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Learning is the "acquisition of knowledge or skill through study, experience or being taught" (Oxford English Dictionary).

My definition, which is perhaps not as concise: "learning is receiving information, making sense of it, understanding it and being able to apply it"

One of the assignments on the CLL Gateway course is to research a topic and present your findings to the class. As I am enjoying learning new things I decided to look at the theory and practise of learning, here are some of the things I found.

It has long been acknowledged that people have learning preferences. Individuals have a better chance of understanding information if it is presented to them in a favourable format. In its simplest form this would be either seeing it, hearing it or doing it themselves.

Neil Fleming wrote extensively about learning theory and describes four main preferences, he uses the acronym VARK:

Visual – Images, photographs, diagrams, video and illustrations.

Auditory – Lectures, podcasts, group discussions, verbal Q+A, recital of key points.

Read/Write – Written text, lists, note taking and further reading

Kinaesthetic – Hands on learning, role play, models, practical experiments

Some people respond well to a blend of these methods, but most have a bias toward one or two preferences. It can be useful to know what your preferences may be, so you can look for the information in a more suitable package e.g. listening to an audiobook rather than reading the text, taking an active part in discussions with your fellow students instead of studying in isolation. Draw diagrams and flow charts to illustrate theories or put theories into context by weaving them into a story of events linked to people. The are many possibilities.

Flemings VARK questionnaire is available to try at:

The research that resonated more with my personal learning was David Kolb's Experiential Learning Cycle. Kolb maintains that one cannot learn without first having an Experience. Following this Experience is a period of Reflective Observation where the learner makes sense of the event and gains an understanding of what has happened. Conceptualisation is next, where the learner concludes, makes amendments and forms the idea into a concept to try out in the last stage which is Active Experimentation, applying the new idea to form the next experience. Then start again and the cycle continues.

Having read this theory it's clear to me that I spend a lot of time in Reflective Observation. Its useful to have this insight and now I can plan this into my study time.

There are many more learning style theories to look at, some linked with personality types and some with basic tests that can be done to help identify how you might learn more efficiently.

I will leave you with the same question I started with,

How do you learn?

About the Author

Steve Lock

I'm Steve Lock and I'm on the Gateway to Higher Education at CLL. I'm not an academic, I've been employed in practical roles throughout my working life. I've been in the Armed Forces and now work in the Emergency Services. My next personal challenge is education, have a look at my blog to see how I'm getting on…..

I started my social studies 2+2 degree in 2015, I have found it really challenging at times, but have enjoyed every minute of it at the same time. I made the transition from Solihull college to Warwick University in October 2017and have just finished my 3rd year, so thought this would be a good time to share some tips I believe will help anyone preparing to transition this year.

  • firstly, don't be afraid to take part in seminars! I took modules in sociology and philosophy, and at the beginning, I felt a bit like an imposter especially in seminars, however, I quickly realized that as a mature student we can offer a different opinion or perspective on certain topics and that we shouldn't be worried about contributing to seminar discussion.
  • My second tip would be to make use of the CLL common room in the social sciences block, you will get to meet other CLL students who are happy to chat, offer support or advice, you will soon find that there are other students that have all been through the experiences you have.
  • finally, make the most of the services available whether it be the various workshops, IT support, or counseling there is always something that can help you progress if you need help or support with anything there is always someone that can help.

anyway, hope these help, good luck with your transition to Warwick.

Last week I attended the 'Introduction to Guidance Interviewing' residential at Warwick, delivered by AGCAS*. This does not form part of my PG Diploma, but is a good introductory session prior to enrolling (hopefully!) onto the Advanced Guidance Skills module towards the end of my CEIGHE, and AGCAS deliver many of the residentials within the CEIGHE.

I found this introductory course to be an incredibly positive learning experience, and a great opportunity to explore and reflect on how I currently support students in my work.

The course was split into two days. We were a group of six, all engaged in different HE Careers service roles. The first day covered a range of information, such as career theories and models of guidance interviewing. Through role play in the group we were able to start putting new skills to the test. On day two we then each carried out a recorded, and group observed, one-to-one 30 minute guidance interview with a current University of Warwick student, bringing their real concerns and questions to the conversation.

The course was beneficial for reflecting on my current support to students, for testing my interest in more in-depth guidance interviewing, and for the opportunity to network with others involved in HE Careers work.

The course made me reflect on how I currently speak with students, and my dominant focus to give information, a drive to provide practical steps for a student to take in securing a placement. This can be helpful for placements, as students often request suggestions on how to improve their placement prospects, and they have a time limit within the year on securing a role. However, it may not always give a cautious or less confident student time, or the sense that it is a space in which they can, unravel deeper concerns or questions surrounding work experience. It becomes easy to view the placement year as a short-lived early experience of working life. However, at that time in a student's journey a placement year can be a very big decision. Some students have never worked before, some may have never experienced a world outside of home and education. Jumping into a full-time role where their degree knowledge is put to the test, the student is faced with the learning curve of work etiquette and culture, and a whole new routine. Whilst some students throw themselves into the recruitment process and their subsequent placement experience, it can be easy to overlook that a student who seems less engaged about applying for placements may have deeper worries about work experience that they feel nervous to express. Some students may also find it hard to see the placement year in isolation, placing pressure onto themselves about what it means for the bigger picture of their graduate hopes, rather than seeing it as a positive opportunity to gain experience, and learn about the working world.

The course has made me consider how I can approach differently these interactions with students, and not rush straight into information giving. I hope this will enable me to put some of the skills from this course into action, and better develop my support for students in the placement process.

In relation to my CEIGHE, the course was a confidence boost that I am interested in guidance support to students on their career development and awareness. Spending time around students who are looking at placements to gain wider insight and understanding of an area of work, I feel in turn this two-day course provided me with a similar opportunity to gain some insight into different ways of working.

*The Association of Graduate Careers Advisory Services (

About the author

Rose LeekRose Leek is a paid blogger for CLL.

I relocated back near my hometown last year in Surrey, after a decade living near the sea in East Kent. I work in a University Employability & Careers Centre, assisting engineering and science students onto a placement year as part of their degree, and providing administrative support to their academic tutors.

I started the Postgraduate Diploma in Careers Education, Information and Guidance in Higher Education (CEIGHE) in October 2017 and am looking forward to developing a wider awareness of the service I work within, and increasing my confidence and understanding.

I have experienced a year with lots of change, and it is both exciting and daunting to be adding studying back into my life. I have never written a blog and my reasoning for doing so is the hope that it will help me to better reflect on, and share, my experience as a CEIGHE student. My course is mainly distance taught, with a few residential workshops per year. I wanted to also try to share the perspective of being a distance student, and how I will (hopefully!) learn to juggle the balance of study, work and home.

I look forward to the journey ahead!

And if all else fails, maybe the cat can do some of my studying for me?

Well, we’re now in the final stretch! Whether it’s your first year (like me) or your final year, the third term is a busy one. I currently have two 3000-word assignments due in the next few weeks. So, I’m extremely busy and have had my head in the books (constantly) for the past few weeks!

With this term being such a hectic one - with exams and final deadlines looming - I thought that it would be a good time to write a blog about reducing stress.

When things get busy and we don’t seem to have enough time to get everything done, it can start to feel a little overwhelming. This can sometimes lead to anxiety and stress. And, often, when we are so busy, we don’t feel that we have the time to relax and take a breather. Yet, that is the most important time to take a minute for ourselves.

My cousin, Ann Marie Murray, is a Pilates instructor and personal trainer based in Dublin, Ireland. Ann Marie trains clients all over the world, including track and field athletes and Olympic athletes. As she's a big advocate for fitness and self-care, I thought she’d be the perfect person to offer some advice on how to manage stress in the third term.

Ann Marie has kindly provided me with the following tips, on keeping stress-free in the final term (or at any point when you are feeling a little overwhelmed or stressed):

Get enough sleep - one of the first things we can do at home is to get enough sleep. 7-8 hours are recommended. It is very important to rest the brain especially for women, as we have a more complex brain than men. Sleep is so important for mind and body.

Drink plenty of water - keeping the body hydrated during stressful periods is very important. It helps stop the body and mind from becoming sluggish.

Meditate - when you start to feel stressed, take a few moments to meditate. Breathe deeply and let oxygen run through your whole body. It’s very easy to breath when you’re in the library or sitting at your desk with books and notes, or any place where movement is limited.

Breathe – take deep slow breaths - breathing in for 5 counts and out for 5 counts. Doing this 10-15 times will start to relax the body.

Light movements - do a little twist from your waist, side to side, to flush out the system. Move the body in a few different directions. Stand up, take a gentle walk, stretch the arms and legs. If the body is getting tired, the brain is getting tired. You need to keep your body active to keep your mind active.

Exercise - by bringing some light exercises into this stressful time of your life it will give you more focus and a clearer path ahead.

I, for one, will certainly be taking this advice on board. And, hopefully, it’ll also help you guys to have as ‘stress-free’ a final term as possible! :)

For my wedding anniversary (mid-May) I usually plan a weekend away with my husband and daughter. One thing we can’t guarantee though, is the weather! So, this year, we decided against a trip to the seaside and spent a weekend in the Cotswolds instead. We stopped at the lovely Eynsham Hall, in Witney. It’s a stunning country house, with beautiful gardens. A perfect base for exploring the Cotswolds.

Eynsham Hall

Eynsham Hall

During the weekend we went out and about, exploring some of what the Cotswolds has to offer. We visited Witney, Bourton-on-the-Water and the Cotswolds Wildlife Park and Gardens.


Witney is a market town in Oxfordshire. It’s a nice place to while away a few hours. There are plenty of shops and restaurants to keep you busy. Witney Lake and Meadows is just a short walk from the town centre, and Blenheim Palace is only a few miles away. Plus, the town centre offers free parking.
For more information on Witney, like what to do and where to stay, visit the Witney website:



I loved Bourton-on-the-Water. It’s such a lovely village. The river Windrush runs through the village and there are benches and grassy areas where you can sit and enjoy the river. Plus, there are bars, restaurants and tea rooms dotted along the riverbank, making good use of the lovely views. Two attractions to visit in Bourton are: the Model Village (which I visited as a child) and Birdland (which I plan to visit with my family later in the year). However, these are just a couple of ideas, there's a lot more to see and do there. For more information, visit

Cotswolds Wildlife Park and Gardens

Our visit to the Cotswolds Wildlife Park and Gardens was probably my favourite part of the weekend. It was recommended to me by a friend, and it certainly didn’t disappoint. The park is so well laid out and the gardens are stunning. The park is home to over 250 different species of mammals, birds, reptiles and invertebrates. The park is involved in numerous captive breeding programmes (to help threatened and endangered animals), and it helps fund conservation work in the wild (in countries such as - Madagascar, Uganda, Mongolia and Thailand). A highlight of the visit, for me, was that you can get really close to a number of the animals. The walk-through lemur enclosure was great. We were there for the lemur feeding and talk. To get that close to the lemurs was just wonderful. Also, there is a viewing platform to see the giraffes, making you pretty much at eye-level with them. I thought that was such a good idea. There is a train that takes you around the park, you can watch the penguins being fed, there’s a children’s playground and farmyard area, and a nice restaurant for when you fancy a bite to eat (and plenty of picnic areas, if you prefer to bring a packed lunch). There is loads to see and do there. It certainly makes for a great day out. I can’t recommend it highly enough. Plus, it offers student discount, which is even more of a bonus! For more information, visit

Penguin feeding


There is so much more to see and do in the Cotswolds. A weekend break only really gives you a taste of what’s on offer. With the Cotswolds only being about an hour drive from Coventry, I definitely recommend it for a visit. We’ll certainly go back.