Gregorc Learning Styles

Instructor: Brittany Cross

Brittany teaches middle school Language Arts and has a master's degree for designing secondary reading curriculum.

Have you ever wondered how the mind works? In 1969, Anthony F. Gregorc, Ph.D., founded a theory to explain the ways a human brain processes information. Let's take a look at the four categories he devised to describe most learning styles.

Origin of Learning Styles

Where did the concept of Gregorc learning styles originate? The name of professor and researcher Anthony F. Gregorc is synonymous with the idea of phenomenological research, which is the study of human consciousness and self-awareness. He is best known for his work in learning styles, and in 1984 designed a workable model to explain, or categorize, the ways in which the mind learns.

His Mind Styles Model presents four primary learning styles that explain how an individual thinks and learns best. For example, you might ask yourself: Do I like things to be in order or random? Do I want ideas to be black and white, or would I rather understand them with many levels of meaning? The Mind Styles Model categorizes the ways different people perceive and process information.

How Do You Perceive Information?

The ways we take in or perceive information can be broken into two basic subsets: concrete and abstract. Maybe you remember way back in elementary school, when you first began to learn about nouns. These could be either concrete or abstract. Concrete nouns like 'dog,' 'cat,' 'desk,' or 'pencil' are all things that can be seen and touched. Abstract nouns such as 'love' or 'hope' were often a little tougher to wrap your mind around because they were not tangible objects.

  • In the same terms, perceiving something in a concrete manner means that you register something in your mind using sensory detail, or your five senses: sight, hearing, taste, touch, smell. This is not something that is symbolic or works on many levels - it is what it is right in front of you. Therefore, a concrete learner will soak up information through experiences, often kinesthetic, that involve doing, sensing, and feeling.
  • Abstract is quite the opposite. When you perceive something in an abstract way, you visualize and use your imagination or even your intuition to see something beyond the obvious. Abstract learners are the ones who find it easy to believe in something they cannot necessarily see. They like theories and deductive reasoning, a la Sherlock Holmes. This type of learner likes to observe, analyze, draw conclusions, and even speculate on what the right answer may be.

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