the current study aimed at discovering the differences in the use of English language learning strategies by gender. To this end, the Persian version of Oxford’s (1990) SILL was administered among 25 male and 41 female students majoring in environmental health, public health, and occupational health and safety at Shiraz University of Medical Sciences. Regarding to the overall use of strategies, the results showed that Iranian ESP students can be categorized as medium strategy users. Regarding to the use of each of the six strategy categories, findings revealed that the students used metacognitive strategies significantly more than any other category of strategies, with memory strategies ranking last on students’ preference scale. The current study also found that gender did not affect the overall strategy usage of Iranian ESP students and the six categories of strategy.
Another study by Nikoopour, Farsani, Nasiri (2011), investigates the relationship between critical thinking and the use of direct and indirect language learning strategies by Iranian learners. To this end, two survey instruments, the Strategy Inventory for Language Learning (SILL), and a questionnaire of Critical Thinking, were administered among 100 college students majoring in English translation at Karaj University. The findings reveals a statistically significant relationship between specific direct and indirect language learning strategies such as cognitive, metacognitive, and social with critical thinking, while memory, compensation, and affective strategies appeared to have no relationship with critical thinking.
2.3 Language Learning Style
2.3.1 What is Learning Style?
Learning style (LS) is the way in which each person begins to concentrate on,process, and retain new and difficult information through different perceptual channels. Styles pertain to the person as an individual, and that differentiate her/him from someone else. It is generally assumed that LS refer to beliefs, preferences, and behaviors used by individuals to aid their learning in a given situation (Brown, 2000; Dunn & Griggs, 1998; Hohn, 1995). People may learn in slightly different ways or extremely different ways (Dunn & Griggs, 1998). For example, think about how you learn the names of people you meet. Do you learn a name better if you see it written down? If so, you may be a visual learner, one who learns best by seeing or reading. If you learn a name better by hearing it, you may be an auditory learner (Slavin, 2000).
Although some gifted people may learn proficiently without using their learning style preferences, low achievers perform better when they do, rather than when they don’t. A decade of research demonstrates that both low and average achievers earn higher scores on standardized achievement tests and attitude tests when taught through their learning style preferences (Dunn & Griggs, 1998).
Students have different characteristic strengths and preferences in the ways they take in and process information. Their learning styles will be influenced by their genetic make-up, their previous learning experiences, their culture and the society they live in. Some students may focus on facts and data; others are more comfortable with theories and mathematical models. Some respond strongly to visual forms of information, like pictures, diagrams, and schematics; others get more from verbal forms like written and spoken explanations. Some prefer to learn actively and interactively; others function more introspectively and individually
Even among family members, learning styles may vary. Mothers and fathers tend to have completely opposite learning styles, children often reflect the partial style of one parent but not the other. Siblings learn differently from each other, and offspring do not necessarily reflect either parent’s style. Apart from genetic make-up, students develop their learning styles by means of their experiences. Developmental elements of learning styles include motivation, a need for less or more structure, conformity or nonconformity, sociological preferences for learning. Preferences for learning styles change over time. However, during a period in which an individual has strong style preferences, that person will achieve most easily when taught with strategies and resources that complement those preferences (Kraus, Reed, & Fitzgerald, 2001). Although many people can learn basic information through an incompatible style, even accomplished professionals learn most easily through their learning style strengths. No single style is better or worse than any other (Dunn, 1999; Dunn & Griggs, 1998).
2.3.2 Development of Learning Style
Nowadays researchers try to find out successful, cheap and practical ways to practice in classrooms. There are various studies some of which support the aim and some others may not achieve the expected results. Anyway, achieving their aims or not, all the theories serve the educational system.
Learning-style theory which has its roots in psychoanalytic community is just one o f these enterprises and emphasizes the different ways people think and feel as they solve problems, create products, and interact with other people (Silver, Strong & Perini, 1997).
Learning-style theory begins with Swiss psychologist Carl Jung in the second decade of the 20th century with his psychological types, another way in which he looked at the process of individuation (Arraj, 1991). He reconceptualized human difference as perception (how we absorb information), and judgment (how we process the absorbed information). He claims that information is perceived either concretely through sensing or abstractly through intuition. Then, information is judged either through the logic of thinking or the subjectivity of feeling. These are
Jungian four functions -sensing, intuition, thinking, and feeling- exist in every individual. One of these functions is dominant, one is auxiliary and ranks as the second most used function, and the third is the tertiary function that is not used too often and demands more energy to use. The fourth function is a person’s inferior or shadow function and is too weak to use (Silver, Strong & Perini, 2000).
Isabel Myers and Katherine Briggs, who created the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) and founded the Association of Psychological Type, applied Jung’s work and influenced a generation of researchers trying to understand specific differences in human learning (Schroeder, 1993). They indicated the psychological type in individuals as introversion/extraversion, sensing/intuition, thinking/feeling, and judging/perceiving (Mamchur, 1996).
The term “learning styles” is generally assumed to refer to beliefs, preferences, and behaviors used by individuals to aid their learning under the classroom or environmental conditions (Borich & Tombari, 1997; Hohn, 1995). Learning styles appear to occur in three areas: cognitive, psychological, and affective (Borich &Tombari, 1997; Hohn, 1995; Slavin, 2000). Cognitive styles have been defined in terms of the way a person perceives, remembers, thinks, and solves problems. Psychological styles are biological and include reactions to the physical environment that may affect learning (e.g., being a “night person” or preferring to study in a warm or a cold room). Affective styles include personality and emotional characteristics such as persistence, preferring to work with others or alone, and rejecting or accepting external reinforcement (Borich & Tombari, 1997; Hohn, 1995; Slavin, 2000).
There are several other differences in learning styles that educational psychologists have studied. One has to do with field dependence versus field independence. Field-dependent individuals tend to see patterns as a whole and have difficulty separating out specific aspects of a situation or pattern; field-independent people are more able to see the parts that make up a large pattern. Field-dependent people tend to be more oriented toward people and social relationships than are field independent people. For example, they tend to be better at recalling such social information as conversation and relationships, to work best in groups, and to prefer such subjects as history and literature. Field-independent people do well with numbers, science, and problem-solving task (Brown, 2000; Borich & Tombari, 1997; Hohn, 1995; Slavin, 2000).
Field-independent learners prefer to work alone, are able to more effectively organize their efforts in working on projects and problem-solving tasks, and prefer to set their own goals. Field-dependent learners, on the other hand, prefer to learn in groups, prefer to interact frequently with the teacher, and require more external reinforcement and teacher structuring of tasks (Borich &Tombari, 1997; Brown, 2000; Hohn, 1995; Slavin, 2000).
Another cognitive style entails conceptual tempo. It is common for us to show in our personalities certain tendencies toward reflectivity sometimes and impulsivity at other times. Impulsive learners work fast to get an answer, are more easily frustrated and more distractible, and are more likely to take risks than reflective children who work more slowly to avoid errors (Brown, 2000; Slavin, 2000).
Reflective learners are slower but more accurate than impulsive learners especially in reading (Brown, 2000; Hohn, 1995).
Another key researcher in this area is Anthony Gregorc (1987), and the third cognitive style is Gregorc’s thinking style. Grecorc categorizes thought into two dimensions: concrete-abstract and sequential random. He delineated four learning/teaching channels: concrete sequential (hardworking, conventional, accurate, stable, dependable, consistent, factual, organized) abstract sequential (analytic, objective, knowledgeable, thorough, structured, logical, deliberate, and systematic), abstract random (sensitive, compassionate,