There are various learning styles in the World. This is because people are different and all have differing levels of cognitive and information integration ability. A number of factors influence this ability. These range from genetic and up bringing to environmental requirements. These factors affect the way an individual absorbs information by either doing acting feeling and sensing or by observation, thinking and analysis.
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The differences in people’s cognitive ability have enabled psychologists to classify learning into different types. Not all these learning styles can be restricted to a specific person (Mantle, 2001). Even though these learning styles are specific to individuals, culture plays an important role in influencing what individuals embrace as their favorite learning styles.
Culture also may restrict people to embrace certain learning styles. This makes people who share cultural background to have somewhat similar learning styles. Culture has some effect on people’s learning styles.
There is no specific definition for learning styles. Learning is the process of acquiring knowledge by studying. A learning style, therefore, is a distinctive manner in which an individual acquires knowledge by means of study.
It comprises of a number of factors, which include characteristic cognitive, affective and physiological factors that show how an individual apprehends, interacts with and react to issues surrounding his/her learning environment (Cagiltay & Bichelmeyer, 2000). Researchers in psychology have developed models to enable them explain learning styles of individuals or groups of individuals.
Since these models have a number of generalizations and assumptions, they may not give the measure of learning styles in a particular group. This is also due to the fact that variations and differences in the way they acquire their knowledge.
In this case, it is important to understand “learning styles” as the strategies or approaches individuals prefer using in the knowledge acquisition process rather than the models the researchers offer.
This should take into account the strategies an individual or a group of individuals employ in processing information and the common preferences as they approach learning in a distinctive manner (Cagiltay & Bichelmeyer, 2000).
Culture on the other hand has many definitions depending on the context in which the term is used. In the human context, culture is generally the way of life of a group of people defined by their learned behavior, believes and convictions.
People inherit culture from the society in which they are born into, grow and develop. The culture of a place has norms and other cultural traits that its people identify with. These traits are normally common to all people in that particular group.
These include language, classification of people, rules regulating various aspects of life, distribution of roles, leadership structure and roles, among many others. People generally learn their culture from tradition or religious background.
Culture plays an important role in determining the way people within a specific culture bring up their children. The norms of a culture also affect the way children born to that culture treat their seniors and this in turn affects how these children learn from their seniors and from their environment.
There are numerous types of culture in the world, which in turn form many distinct classes of culture in different localities within the globe. These cultures tend to influence the education and learning systems countries use to educate their students.
In cultures with a highly authoritarian family structure, this is likely to be the same structure the people use in their education systems. In such cultures, the children born to a family need to respect their parents and elders.
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They are also required to take in what their elders tell them without much questioning on with no questioning at all. Children in these settings have no opinions of their own and they take their seniors as authority in whatever field they are involved. This is likely to affect the children’s learning by questioning and individual research into an issue to gain more understanding.
When the governments transfer this type of leadership to learning institutions, the students respect their teachers mostly to the point of fear. This sometimes makes it hard for the students to make inquiries from their teachers about any issue they do not well understand.
Teachers in such settings, normally, do not welcome or entertain contrary opinions from students. This authoritarian form of education gives students only the option of rote learning, where they memorize and recall what their teachers teach them. Students in this setting take a passive role in learning.
An example of this traditional rote learning is the Turkish education system (Cagiltay & Bichelmeyer, 2000). According to the research by Cagiltay and Bichelmeyer (2000), this country has a centralized education system, which is under the control of the Ministry of Education. Teachers are the main source of information and students depend on them for all their learning needs.
Teachers assume a paternalistic figure in school and expect students to respect them and learn from them without questioning. Religion also has an influence on the county’s culture where the majority of the people have embraced the Muslim religion.
Such believes force students to accept what they receive from their teachers without questioning. They affect the student’s learning style by restricting them to specific means of learning which may, sometimes, restrict the learning process and hinder full learning.
Some cultures allow democracy right from the family level to the learning institutions. In such cultures, students have the right to question whatever their teachers or elders teach them in order for them to come to an understanding.
They also have a right to challenge the teacher’s opinions if they feel that they are not right. Such kind of learning style enables students to research more into an issue to understand it fully rather than taking it the way they receive it from a teacher or from one source.
Students in this kind of setting tend to prefer individual working to team work. This kind of learning strategy opens up the students to diverse viewpoints and ideas increasing the level of learning and makes the students more open-minded.
An example of this learning strategy is the learning system the American people use. In this culture, the children have a right to question whatever their seniors or parents tell them. The basis of this system is democracy and everybody has a right of expression. Students have a right to challenge their teachers/lecturers in matters they have a contrary opinion.
This system encourages individualism in learning making individuals to focus more on individual success and less in collective work. Such system opens up the mind of students to acquiring and processing diverse information necessary for their learning.
In other cultures, parents teach their children to acquire skills necessary their survival and application in their immediate environment. People in hunting areas have to develop their visual skills and use concrete and active perception skills to learn. This is necessary for them to survive in their hunting environment.
This is the case with the Eskimo hunters who have to develop their learning skills to adapt to their long distance they walk and to improve or catch up with the hunting prowess (Kleinfeld, n.d).
Other people for example in Agricultural areas have to learn to work in groups to acquire knowledge on better agricultural practices and learn how to handle their agricultural organizations. In these cases, the culture of the people can dictate which learning style this people use. This does not mean that the culture will restrict the people to those specific learning styles.
In conclusion, there are many cultures in the world and all these have specific groups of people attached to them. These cultures direct the way people live and carry out their day-to-day activities. Children inherit and learn the culture of their parents and this shape their learning style (Reid, 2005; Ostrom, 2002).
This makes children from the same cultural background to have similar interests and respond in almost the same way to their learning environment (Guild, n.d). It is important to note that individuals have their learning preferences, which makes individuals in the same culture to prefer and utilize different learning styles in acquiring knowledge.
Individuals brought up in one culture and used to its teaching and learning techniques and styles are likely to have problems when they change to anew environment that uses a different culture. This is because of their cultural influence on their first learning experience. Culture has some effect on people’s learning styles but this does not make people from similar backgrounds to prefer the same learning styles.
Cagiltay, Kursat &Bichelmeyer, Barbara (2000). Differences in Learning Styles in Different Cultures: A Qualitative Study. Indiana University, Bloomington. Web.
Guild, Pat (n.d). The Culture/Learning Style Connection. Web.
Kleinfeld, Judith (n.d). Learning Styles and Culture. Web.
Mantle, Stacy (2001). The Seven Learning Styles. Web.
Ostrom, Elinor (2002). The drama of the commons. National Research Council (U.S). Committee on the Human Dimensions of Global Change. Washington DC: Academic Press.
Reid, Gavin (2005). Learning styles and inclusion. Paul Chapman Publishing. SAGE Publishing Inc.