How to Maximize Your Learning and Improve Your Academic Performance

Murali Krishnamurthi, Associate Professor
Department of Industrial Engineering, Northern Illinois University, DeKalb, Illinois 60115


  1. Issues Related to Learning
  2. Learning and Teaching Styles
  3. The Learning Process
  4. Learning Through the Cycle
  5. Model of Development
  6. Improving Your Academic Performance
  7. Recommendations

Issues Related to Learning

General Complaints From Students

Finding Solutions to Learning Difficulties

Learning and Teaching Styles

Different Learning Styles (Felder, 1988)

  1. How students perceive information
  1. Input mechanism through which information is perceived
  1. Which organization of information is comfortable to students?
  1. How students process information?
  1. How does the student progress toward understanding?

Similar to different learning styles there are also different teaching styles

Different Teaching Styles

  1. What type of information is emphasized by the instructor?
  1. What mode of presentation is stressed?
  1. How is the presentation organized?
  1. What mode of student participation is facilitated by presentation?
  1. What type of perspective is provided on the information presented?

There are no right or wrong learning styles or teaching styles!

Problems occur when there is a mismatch between teaching and learning styles

The Learning Process

Taxonomy of Educational Objectives: Cognitive Domain (Bloom, 1957)

  1. Knowledge - facts, terminology, basics
  2. Comprehension - translation, extrapolation, interpretation of facts
  3. Application - applying the knowledge comprehended correctly to solve problems
  4. Analysis - ability to analyze the application of knowledge comprehended
  5. Synthesis - putting together elements and parts to form a whole new knowledge
  6. Evaluation - making judgments about the value of ideas, solutions synthesized

Issues Related to the Learning Process

Learning and Teaching Through the Cycle

Kolb's Learning Theory (Kolb, 1984)

Kolb has developed a learning model based on the different learning styles and has identified four types of learners as shown below:

  1. Divergers (Type 1 learners) WHY?
  2. Assimilators (Type 2 learners) WHAT?
  3. Convergers (Type 3 learners) HOW?
  4. Accommodators (Type 4 learners) WHAT IF?

WHY? - Why do we have to learn something?

WHAT? - What information do I need to know?

HOW? - How does this work? or How do I solve the problems?

WHAT IF? - What if the problems were different?

Where do undergraduate engineering students fit in?

Claxton and Ralston (1978) have showed that:

Claxton and Ralston (1978) have showed that similar to students’ learning styles teachers also have different teaching styles:

Claxton and Ralston have concluded from their studies that:

Model of Development

William Perry's Model of Student Development

  1. Dualism
  1. Early Multiplicity
  1. Late Multiplicity
  1. Relativism
  1. Commitment Within Relativism

Ask yourself where do you stand?

Improving Your Academic Performance

It is similar to someone teaching you to bike or swim. They can only give you directions, but you have to find the balance to ride a bike or float to swim