ting Creativity by Using Components of Learning Style
LISTS OF ABBREVIATIONS
L1: Native Language
L2: Foreign Language
ESL: English as a Second Language
EFL: English as a Foreign Language
PLSP: Perceptual Learning Style Preference
SILL: Strategy Inventory for Language Learning
ACT: Abedi-Schumacher Creativity Test
BACKGROUND AND PURPOSE
Today, it is almost known that each learner has his/her especial way of learning that may have a fundamental role in his/her success or failure (Fewell, 2010; Zare & Noordin, 2011). Over the recent decades most of the researchers have gradually moved from focusing on teaching paradigms toward exploring individual characteristics (Carson & Longhini, 2002; Oxford & Anderson, 1995). Therefore, the individuals and their differences have been the subject of many studies. Along these lines it seems that there is a highly demanding need to expand studies in these lines (Ghonsooly, Elahi, & Golparvar, 2012; Gilakjani & Ahmadi, 2011; Mohebi & Khodadady, 2011). As Grenbell and Harris (1999) state “methodology alone can never be a solution to language learning. Rather it is an aid and suggestion” (p.10). Most of the theories of learning are all attempts to describe universal human traits in learning (Brown, 2007). They seek to explain globally how people perceive, filter, store, and recall information. Such processes do not account for the differences across individuals in the way they learn, or for differences within any one individual (Brown, 2007) which are very important factors in the process of learning.
Among different personal traits, individual learners’ learning style preferences provide valuable insights into the educational context (Felder & Spurlin, 2005; Sternberg, 1990; Xu, 2011). Learning style is inherent and pervasive and is a blend of cognitive, affective, and behavioral elements (Willing, 1988). Learning style includes four aspects of a person: a) preferred or habitual patterns of mental functioning; b) patterns of attitudes and interests that affect what an individual will pay most attention to in a learning situation; c) a tendency to seek situations compatible with one’s own learning patterns; and d) a tendency to use certain learning strategies and avoid others (Brown, 2000).
Keefe (as cited in Brown, 2000) stated that learning styles might be thought of as “cognitive, affective, and physiological traits that are relatively stable indicators of how learners perceive, interact with, and respond to the learning environment” (p. 114).
Dyer (1995) noted that each preferred learning style has a matching preferred method of instruction. When mismatches exist between learning styles of the learners in a class and the teaching style of the teacher, the students may become bored and inattentive in class, do poorly on tests, get discouraged about the courses, the curriculum, and themselves, and in some cases change to other curricula or drop out of school (Felder, 1996). Therefore, identifying these learning styles, which are stated by Cornett (1983) as the overall patterns that give general direction to learning behavior, might be a key element to raise instructors’ awareness of their weaknesses and strengths and impede negative feedbacks. Accordingly, Reid (1995) states that developing an understanding of learning environments and styles “will enable students to take control of their learning and to maximize their potential for learning” (p. 25).
Also, Brown (2007) believes that every individual approaches a problem or learns a set of facts from a unique perspective. In this view, the learner is considered as an active participant that the effects of teaching will be partly dependant on what s/he knows such as his/her prior knowledge, what s/he thinks about during learning and his/her active cognitive processes (Weinstein & Underwood, 1985). This has brought attention to language learning strategies which an individual learner applies during the learning process to facilitate second language learning (Oxford, 1990; Wenden, 1991).
Learning strategies are “any set of operations, plans, or routines used by learners to facilitate the obtaining, retrieval, storage and use of information” (Macaro, 2006, p. 342).
Many scholars such as Eliss (1994); O’Malley and Chamot (1996); Oxford (1990); Rubin (1978); Stern (1992) have classified learning strategies into categories, but Oxford’s classification is popular (Eliss, 2008). Her taxonomy consists of direct and indirect strategies. Direct strategies are specific procedures that learners can use to improve their language skills. Indirect strategies, on the other hand, include things such as evaluating one’s learning and cooperating with others (Elis, 2008). Furthermore, the frequency use of strategies and particular types of strategies vary among EFL learners. In this respect the influential effect of learning style should also be considered as suggested by Carson & Longhini, (2002); and Littlemore, (2001).
Researchers such as Ehrman (1989) and Oxford (1995) suggest that learning style has a significant influence on students’ choice of learning strategies, and that both styles and strategies affect learning outcomes. But in spite of the diversity of researches on learning styles and strategies, relatively no studies have addressed the relationship between these two variables and another very influential factor in foreign language learning process called creativity (CR).
Humans are all born with a potential for creativity and creativity can be nurtured “at all stages and in all fields of human endeavor” (Sarsani, 2005, p. 47). To this end, according to Agarwal (1992), developing CR at all levels in the education system is increasingly recognized as being critical in improving educational attainment and life skills, particularly in second or foreign language learning and teaching. “Discussion of creativity in relation to language teaching and learning has been extensive and continues to be a very major point of application of a wide range of theories of creativity” (Carter, 2004, p. 213). In fact, “Creativity is an inherent aspect of all pedagogical tasks” (Mishan, 2005, p. 83).
The field of creativity as it is known today has been developed basically thanks to the outstanding attempts made by Guilford and Torrance (Sternberg, 2009). In the modern world, creativity is fundamentally important in all aspects of life and since creativity is complex in nature different viewpoints have been put forward to explain the concept emphasizing different aspects of it (Sarsani, 2006).
“Creativity is generally characterized as the ability to create new and original products which are considered as appropriate for the features and limitations of a given task, where products can refer to a variety of ideas, viewpoints, and innovations” (Lubart, 1994, p.15). “These products must be original as they should not be just a mere copy of what already exists” (Lubart & Guignard, 2004, p. 43).
According to Sarsani (2005), “Philosophy sees creativity as a process of change” (p. 132). Education must thus “Enable people to generate and implement new ideas and to adapt positively to different changes in order to survive in the current world” (Jeffrey, Craft & Leibling, 2001, p. ix). In all actuality, “Creativity is an inherent aspect of all pedagogical tasks” (Mishan, 2005, p. 83).
Correspondingly, the ability to shift between different modes of styles and strategies while performing in a creative setting and understanding the relationship among these variables might provide an explanation on how well an individual corresponds to the phenomena of language learning.
1.2 Statement of the Problem
In learning a second or foreign language, every language learner tries to cope with the problems in his/her own way. That is because every individual learns and organizes information in a unique perspective (Brown, 2007). In fact individual learner variables influence learning outcomes. These variables as Larsen-Freeman (1991) notes include age, socio-psychological factors, creativity, personality, cognitive style, hemisphere specialization, learning strategies, learning styles and other factors such as memory, gender, etc. In a view to the research done over the good language learners, Ehrman (1996) and O’ Malley & Chamot (1990) found that successful language learners are not characterized by their use of special strategies that others do not use, but instead by their ability to coordinate strategies with their own learning style preferences.
Beside language learning styles and language learning strategies, the importance of creativity in learning language cannot be underestimated. Ottó (1998) argues that creativity is an important factor which differs among individual learners.
Despite the indicated support of creativity as a prominent aspect of teaching/learning (Agarwal, 1992; Albert & Kormos 2011; Lee & Kim, 2011; Ormerod, Fritz, & Ridgway, 1999), little effort has been devoted to analyzing the variables that make learners more creative (Carter, 2004). Researches into language learning strategies and learning styles so far has been insufficient to find any relationships among the style preferences of learners, the strategies that learners use and the degree of creativity of language learners (Ghonsooly, 2012; Khaksar, 2008; Pishgadam, 2001; Salehi & Bagheri, 2011). Based on the above-mentioned points, it seems that knowing the possible relationship among language learning strategies, learning style preferences, and creativity may have a positive impact on language learning. Therefore, this study was intended to see whether there is a significant relationship among these three variables -use of language learning strategies,