Blind Men and the Elephant Research Paper

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Blind Men and the Elephant

An Integrated Approach to learning

In contemporary psychology, learning is one of the key topics; however, defining it is a very complex thing. According to the general accepted definitions of learning, it is "understanding," "knowledge," or "comprehension" that is achieved with experience or practice. Due to the ill-defined terms such as mastery, comprehension, and knowledge that it contains, many psychologists would call this definition improper. Rather, we choose a description of learning that refers apparent behavior changes. Gregory A. Kimble (1917-2006) suggested one of the popularly accepted definitions that describe learning as a comparatively lasting change in behavioral potentiality that happens due to reinforced practice (Kimble, as cited in Olson and Hergenhahn, 2013). Even though this meaning is well-liked, it is far from accepted across the world. Let's look at it more vigilantly before reviewing causes of disagreement over Kimble's description (Olson and Hergenhahn, 2013).

According to Stewart (2004; P.55), a learning method "depicts a person's preference for how to learn new skill or information." Some of us prefer listening and reflecting on what we hear: and some people choose to monitor i.e. The visual approach. Other people might state their preferences by telling that unless they truly experience it, attempt it, and sense what it is like, they do not learn something. Some people prefer learning better with music playing in the background, others might prefer total silence. People clearly differ commonly in their way of learning, thinking and behaving. Hence, considering a particular method for learning is useful to consider.

We all learn in a number of methods, but with specific preferences as emphasized by McCarthy, Kolb, and other learning style educationalists. What we all choose to learn is associated with the way or manner in which we learn and the way in which we go about learning (Herrman, 1988). It was suggested that frustration and boredom will result if the learning modes are not matched with cognitive style and thus, would also require more effort for learning. The style preference that an individual has for learning is usually more or less related to their own level of competence. The basic assumption underlying this statement is that people tend to do those things better which they have a liking for (Herrmann, 1988). Still it cannot be guaranteed that simply having a preference for a certain learning style does not imply that the prospect is good at what he/she has learnt.

Argyris and Schon (1978) believe that learning occurs when one corrects their errors after detecting them. Initially, when bad things tend to happen, most of us normally start looking for other options that for the time being will be applicable. It can also be thus deduced that plans as well as rules are, instead of being queried, consciously taken out. The name Argyris and Schon (1974) gave to this phenomenon is single-loop learning. Another differing response is questioning the dominant variables, and subjecting to a thorough critical analysis (double-loop learning).

Single-loop learning takes place when strategies, frameworks, values, and objectives are taken for granted. The major implication is on "techniques and how they can be made more efficient" [Usher and Bryant: 1989; P. 87]. All the considerations that occur have a clear focus on trying to increase the effectiveness of the strategy, which is why other theories of learning do not explain learned behavior under the same circumstances and situations. On the other hand, in double-loop learning, the learning system's functioning is critically examined and questioned and thus results in the formulation of concrete strategies and goals. This is primarily the reason why other theories of learning do not explain learned behavior under the same circumstances and situations.

Another tool also referred to the cognitive taxonomy which was formulated by Benjamin Bloom is proving to be a very important tool. "Clear guidance and supervision is provided to processing diverse learning experiences as well as various thinking levels" [Frangenheim, 2005]. It is suggested by Bloom's taxonomy of learning (1956) that the range of learning is very complex; for instance, it can start from simple understandings and end at complex evaluations. The aspects of this taxonomy presented by Bloom are: recall, familiarity, understanding or grasp, implementation, assessment, fusion, and valuation [Tuan and David, 2006; P. 156], alongside a greater emphasis being placed on each new level which is primarily the reason why other theories of learning do not explain learned behavior under the same circumstances and situations..

The Kolb Approach
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A model was also developed by David Kolb which has since then been expanded and adapted numerous times. It was determined by Kolb that 4 methods of learning are usually employed by people: active experimentation, reflective observation, abstract conceptualization, and concrete experience. Honey and Mumford (1992) also further elaborated these slides as theorizing, practical application, reflection, and action. It was stated by Kolb that "people tend to develop those learning styles over time that seem to have certain learning abilities in comparison to other people" [Kolb, 1984; P. 68]. For the 4 different modes that a respective person might opt for, the learning style inventory is utilized. Furthermore, the learning style inventory scoring card depicts how a person perceives him or her as a learner [Kolb, 1984]. Once the graph is plotted on the chart, the results calculated through the inventory suggest that I tend to have a natural tendency towards Reflective Observation (RO), while the preferential learning style is Divergent. The major implication is that the characteristics I possess provide me a vivid imaginative capability, the ability to generate out of the box ideas, viewing things differently than most other people, and being interested in different cultures and people.

The 4 Mat System

Another tool was developed by McCarthy (1981), which is called the 4 Mat System, which presents a certain model that can be used to assess and then accordingly address different kinds of styles. This is primarily the reason why other theories of learning do not explain learned behavior under the same circumstances and situations. The basis that has been used for developing this tool is the work that has been carried out by Kolb (1984) and Gregorc and Butler (1981). The basic proposal of the system is that normal people tend to have a certain dominant learning style that is determined considering 3 certain trends: left-brained or right-brained tendencies, concrete or abstract tendencies, and reflective or active tendencies (McCarthy, 1981). This is also why other theories of learning do not explain learned behavior under the same circumstances and situations.

However, it is incredibly important that these various theories are adequately assessed in the first place as these would be utilized in determining and evaluating how I tend to learn. It was moreover also recognized by Kolb that this learning style inventory might not be always accurate.

It was suggested by Kolb (1984) that the cycle of learning of any particular person is involved in a continuous cycle and the concepts of the person are dependent on the level of experience that has been gained. The two skills that have been chosen for evaluation are presented below: Negotiation and Communication. These skills are used on an everyday basis and thus they are incredibly precious for every individual. These skills will further be evaluated in consideration of the level of personal past experiences and effort will also be made for applying the theory.


I believe that negotiation is a very vital skill for any individual, especially in Lagos markets where the price of offerings is usually not based on the cost that has been incurred in producing the product plus a certain appropriate margin. Good negotiation skills can make the vital difference of being made a fool and devising a deal that presents a win-win option to both parties involved. Specific examples cannot be provided as all the past experiences have more or less taken place in the same locations and even in the same situations, thus a more general approach will be used. My first experience with negotiating occurred when I used to go shopping for things with my mother. Usually it would occur that I would secure a price that is almost half of what was originally asked by the seller, as most of the time such sellers are present in the market to exploit ignorant customers. The basic tricks while approaching such a seller is appearing to look disengaged and disinterested while the target has already been chosen from a few meters away. The basic idea is to appear as if you do not have a need for the product or item that is being offered and it is usually wiser to let the seller begin the conversation as it can later be used as leverage against the seller; for instance, by implying that it is incredibly important for the seller to generate the sale and thus I am only a possible prospect that can allow this profitable exchange of goods or products to take place. It is usually…

Sources Used in Documents:


Argyris, C. And Schon, D. (1974). Theory in practice: Increasing professional effectiveness. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Argyris, C., & Schon, D. (1978). Organizational learning: A theory of action perspective. Reading Mass: Addison Wesley.

Deborah A. Stewart. (2004). Effective Teaching: A Guide for Community College Instructors. Community College of Vermont. Amer. Assn. Of Community Col Publications.

Eric Frangenheim. (2005). Reflections on Classroom Thinking Strategies. Practical Sage Publications.

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