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The Secrets to Raising a Smarter Child
- By Inderbir Sandhu, Ph.D


Show me the way I learn - Dunn's Powerful Learning Theory

By Andrew Loh

Children learn in different ways. What works for one child may not work for the other. Every child is different in his or her learning style. Several learning theories suggest different learning methods for different children. Before understanding any of these learning theories, you should try to know the exact meaning of a specific learning style.

The learning style is a unique method a child chooses to process, evaluate, analyze, probe, internalize and study all new and challenging study materials. As mentioned before, several learning styles enable a child learn in its own way. A child learns in an effective manner by using his or her preferred learning style. Of all the learning theories and styles, nothing can beat the sheer practicality and usefulness of Dunn learning style.

The essence of Dunn learning style lies in its simplicity and flexibility. According to this model, most learners can learn and master new subjects and they have their unique and individual methods of gaining mastery over new, complex and difficult subject matters. For example, a child finds it very difficult to learn a lesson in math and the math subject as a whole becomes a big challenge. In a sense, the challenge of learning becomes extremely excruciating if the manner in which children learn math does not match the manner in which they learn.

The Dunn couple (Rita & Kenneth Dunn) suggested this learning style for the benefits of learners. The learning theory proposed by this couple has some very interesting features to offer you.

According to them,

  1. Everyone has his or her own learning style and each one of us have our own strengths too.

  2. The perceived strength is just like an individual's signature.

  3. No learning style is better or bad than the other.

  4. There are hundreds of differing learning styles, irrespective of learner's religion, creed, culture and nationalities.

However, the theory could be somewhat difficult to understand, as one has to learn about as many as 21 different elements that affect learning process. Many of these elements are biological in nature while others are developmental. In other words, learning styles may change over time and according to the 21 elements. Here are more details about some of the important elements that influence learning:

Environmental factors

Surrounding environmental factors play an important role in learning process. Some of the environmental factors are light, sound, temperature and seating system in the classroom. For example:

  • Some learners like lots of ambient light while reading and writing.

  • Some children like to listen to soothing music while they are studying.

  • Some children learn well even with surrounding noise

Emotional factors

Several emotional factors like internal/external motivation, dedication, persistence, responsibility and continuity could easily influence learning process. All these emotional factors are very critical for an effective learning process.

For example,

  • Some children will never touch a fresh project unless they finish the earlier one.

  • On the other hand, some of them can work on multiple projects at a time and in fact they work diligently and with a sense of purpose.

Sociological factors

Sociology plays an important role in establishing social skills and social relationship with others. How children interact with others is an indication of how well they acquire various social skills. Social interactions occur among peer groups, within a peer group or with different groups outside the learning environment.

  • Some children learn well in groups and with peers.

  • On the contrary, many of them prefer to learn alone and in solitude.

Physiological factors

Physiological factors that affect learning process in children are numerous. Issues like different perceptions, existing energy levels, food intake and physical activities affect the way in which child learns.

For example,

  • If the child is chronically weak and physically fragile, he or he may not learn to the optimum possible levels.

  • Some children can study up to 10 PM in the night while others study well early in the morning.

Psychological factors

Right and left-brain abilities, general brain developmental conditions, IQ levels and other related issue could affect the way in which a child learns a subject. Cognition, Imagination, creativity and impulsive/reflective styles will also influence the learning.

For example,

  • A gifted child may never perform very well in the classroom while he or she will perform extremely well in a specific area of learning.

  • Children with superior IQ may learn better than the ones with very low IQ levels.

Learning styles and their effectiveness may also vary with age. Similarly, gender also plays an important role in learning process. Male children possess very strong visual, tactile and kinesthetic abilities while female ones are auditory and formal in their approach. Make children are mobile while female children are sedentary. Female children are more authoritative, conforming and self-motivated in their approach. To summarize, Dunn theory of learning seeks to identify and detect key earning styles of individuals and create course content based in their individual styles. Continue to read Parents' Tips to Use Dunn Theory of Learning.


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