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Southern drift : the learning styles of first and third-year students of the built environment
journal contributionposted on 2007-01-01, 00:00 authored by Richard TuckerRichard Tucker
This paper investigates learning processes across a built environment design curriculum through the recognition of the four learning styles defined in the experiential learning theory of Kolb, i.e., 'accommodating', 'diverging', 'assimilating' and 'converging.' The paper focuses on the results of a cross-curriculum learning style survey. The results of the survey appear to explain why many prior studies of the personality characteristics, learning and cognitive styles of practitioners and of design students at different stages of their education appear conflicting. The hypothesis tested to resolve these inconsistencies asked whether design-learning styles are fixed or change as students' progress through their studies. The survey provides evidence of a statistically significant relationship between learning styles and year of study. The evidence suggests a southern drift (the term refers to the spatial interrelationship of styles in the two-dimensional Kolb Learning Style Index [LSI] cycle) towards the abstract conceptualisation mode of the learning process as students near the completion of their studies. This fluidity in learning style remains a hypothesis until further research is able to study one cohort for the entirety of a degree program. The paper argues that the possibility of learning style fluidity needs determining if learning style theory is to provide a workable model for informing the teaching of architecture.