Assessing preferences for learning:
There is a large body of research on learning styles or preferences for learning new information and connecting it to information you already know. The most impressive and usable system I have experienced is based on a model that identifies preferences for perception on new information and preferences in processing new information. However, it goes beyond identifying preferences for learning and actually builds an instructional model which incorporates learning preferences and right/left brain research. It is called the 4MAT System by Excel, Inc. It evolved as a result of research by a teacher, Dr. Bernice McCarthy, on learning theory, learning styles, and brain research in the 1980's. 4MAT was designed as a tool to train educators in helping teachers and students better understand learning preferences and needs.
The LTM is a tool created and validated by research to assess individual preferences for learning new information based on a model by David Kolb on how we perceive and process new information. It also reinforces research on constructivism and metacognition. The LTM is available online for a fee at aboutlearning.com.
Learning preferences can help you begin to understand and choose strategies that work best for you. Some learning style inventories include preferences for learning visually, auditorily, or kinesthetically (touching, feeling, hands-on) or preferences for working in groups or individually. Other models may include multiple bodies of research on learning theory, brain functions, and the dynamic nature of learning and reactions to changes in environment, study habits, and learning situations.
Any learning preference assessment (also called learning style) is a snapshot or static look at your stated or perceived preferences. As you are a very complex and sophisticated individual comprised of a unique and specific collection of genetics, experiences, learning environments, and attitudes. Thus any assessment is merely a beginning point for better understanding of your own preferences and needs.
The reason I like the LTM of the 4MAT model is that it is grounded in educational research and practices. It recognizes the dynamic nature of learning and connects preferences for learning to practices and strategies for improving learning.