Constructing a comprehensive learning style flexibility model for the innovation of an information literacy module

15 Feb 2013

The Department of Information Science in the Faculty of Engineering, Built Environment and Information Technology at the University of Pretoria is responsible for offering a semester module on Information Literacy to all first-year students across all faculties. The Department has embarked on a process of curriculum innovation of the module. For this purpose the learning style theory of Herrmann (1995) and related principles are implemented. At the same time we have expanded the learning style model, referred to as the Whole Brain learning model that Herrmann has developed. We constructed a comprehensive learning style flexibility model or comprehensive whole brain model based on our scholarly engaging with the application of the related principles in numerous contexts. These contexts include our own teaching practices and research and supervision of postgraduate students. The Information Literacy module serves as an exemplar of curriculum innovation based on the concept of learning style flexibility or whole brain learning as it is reflected in our comprehensive model. The model answers the question of how a comprehensive teaching and learning model can be constructed to serve as a guideline for facilitating learning in a learning style flexible/whole brain fashion, accommodating differences in terms of learning preferences and developing students’ and lecturers’ full potential? The differences in terms of learning preferences referred to in the question were scientifically determined by means of the Herrmann Brain Dominance Instrument (HBDI) (Herrmann 1995). However, the model was not constructed based on this quantitative data only. Through different qualitative methods, such as text analysis, observations, student feedback and interviews, used in different contexts, we as authors extracted from our own work and students’ work the ideas that helped shape the model. A constructivist approach was followed as it is embedded in the process of action research.