Meaning of learning style model on team performance
As a team develops from a group of individuals into an effective learning system, members share the functional roles necessary for team effectiveness (Sabre Corporate Development 2002). To learn from its experience, a team must have members who can be involved and committed to the team and its purpose (concrete experience), who can engage in reflection and conversation about the teams experiences (reflective observation), who can engage in critical thinking about the teams work (abstract conceptualisation), and who can make decisions and take action (active experimentation). Teams develop through a creative tension among the four (individual) learning styles. In an idealized learning cycle or spiral, the team and its members “touch all the bases” - experiencing, reflecting, thinking, and acting - in a recursive process that is responsive to the learning situation. Team development is thus a process in which a team creates itself by learning from its experience (Adams, A. B., Kayes, C. D. et al. 2007).
According to the preferred way of acquiring knowledge Kolb divided learners into four learning styles:
- Diverging: The diverging style’s dominant learning abilities are concrete experience and reflective observation. These people are best in viewing problems from many different points of view. Diverging style may be especially helpful during phases of creating new ideas and broadening the view of groups. For diverging type group learning as brainstorming and discussions is preferable.
- Assimilating: The assimilating style’s dominant learning abilities are abstract conceptualization and reflective observation. People with this learning style are best in summarizing a wide range of information into concise, logical form. Assimilating type is best in model building, reading papers, and thinking alone.
- Converging: The converging style’s dominant learning abilities are abstract conceptualization and active experimentation. People with this learning style are best at finding practical uses for ideas and theories. Converging type prefers real life projects, labs and problem solving.
- Accommodating: Accommodating style’s dominant learning abilities are concrete experience and active experimentation. People with this learning style preference learn best from “hand-on” experience. Fieldwork, simulations and games, could be used effectively.
In the first experimental study on the effect of learning styles on team performance, In 1977 Wolfe examined how homogeneous three-person teams of accommodators, divergers, assimilators, or convergers performed on a complex computer business simulation compared with heterogeneous teams (Adams, A. B., Kayes, C. D. et al. 2007). The four groups of homogeneous teams had similar performance results. However, the teams that had members with diverse learning styles performed significantly better, earning nearly twice the amount of money of the homogeneous learning style teams. Similarly, Kayes (2001) found that teams made up of members whose learning styles were balanced among the four learning modes performed at a higher level on a critical thinking task than teams whose members had specialized learning styles (Kayes, C. D. 2002).
Sandmire and Boyce (2004) investigated the performance of two-person collaborative problem-solving teams in an allied health education anatomy, physiology, and pathology course. Students were assigned randomly to two-person groups, beeing either similary or oppositely paired based on their Kolb LSI-2 Y-axis scores (see Figure 3) (Sandmire, D. A. and Boyce, P. F. 2004). They compared a group of high abstract/high concrete (AC-CE) student pairs with a group of abstract pairs (AC-AC) and a group of concrete pairs (CE-CE). The abstract/concrete (AC-CE) pairs performed significantly better on a simulated clinical case than the abstract pairs and slightly better than the concrete pairs (CE-CE), indicating the value of integrating the abstract and concrete dialectics of the learning cycle. However, a similar study by Sandmire, Vroman, and Sanders (2000) investigating pairs formed on the action/reflection dialectic showed no significant performance differences (Adams, A. B., Kayes, C. D. et al. 2007).