Thinking Styles in Student Learning and Development

Authored by: Li-fang Zhang

The Routledge International Handbook of Learning

Print publication date:  December  2011
Online publication date:  May  2012

Print ISBN: 9780415571302
eBook ISBN: 9780203357385
Adobe ISBN: 9781136598562


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For the past seven decades, scholars have been investigating the roles of intellectual styles in human learning and development (Morgan, 1997). Intellectual styles, a general term for different constructs with or without the root word “style”, such as cognitive style, learning style, conceptual tempo, and thinking style, refer to people's preferred ways of processing information (Zhang and Sternberg, 2006). Although various intellectual styles are conceptually different (Sternberg and Zhang, 2001b), they are similar in a fundamental way: all of them are different from abilities. An ability refers to what one can do, whereas a style refers to how one prefers to use the abilities that one has. Major theorization and research on styles has been summarized in several recent publications (e.g. Jonassen and Grabowski, 1993; Riding and Cheema, 1991; Sternberg and Zhang, 2001a; Zhang and Sternberg, 2006, 2009a).

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