Saturday, October 14, 2006

To fulfill a requirement for EDSE 600, I gave one of my classes a learning styles inventory. Although I see the concept of "learning styles" somewhat limited and a little touchy-feely, it was my hope that I could learn something about my students from such a survey. In this vein, I decided to give the inventory to my "worst" class, the one that seems to have not only the most discipline problems, but also the lowest achievement levels.

Most of my students seemed to be visual learners, which does not surprise me. More recent generations - mine certainly incuded - watch so many hours of television, and spend so many hours on the computer, and play so many hours of video games that I am not surprised they would associate the distribution of information with visual media.

Auditory being the second-most commonly occuring learning style amongst this group of students. I don't really know how to interpret this data, but perhaps it speaks to the passivity of current teenage life. Listening, like watching, is an activity that does not require any kind of physical movement. Given the lack of physical activity amongst this generation of students, I am not surprised that auditory and visual are the preferred learning styles.

What was most fascinating to me was that the absolute worst students, in this my worst class (so, the bottom of the barrel in 10th grade) were tactile learners. I was really interested in seeing the responses of two students in particular because they are doing so poorly in my class, in regards to both discipline and academics. Both of these students were tactile learners. The fact that both these students feel the need to always attempt to leave their seats or make comments without raising their hand should have foreshadowed their preference for tactile learning; their bodies and mouths always have to keep moving.

To be honest, I don't really know how to react to this information. If I was a science teacher, or a math teacher, or even a history teacher, perhaps I could design lesson plans to fit these students' preference for tactile learning. However, English is English. There are certain things these students have to learn, and there are certain ways they must learn them. This is particularly true in regards to reading comprehension, with which the students need the most help. Though I try to vary my lessons as much as possible, learning is hard work. If the students don't want to work in the first place, it doesn't really matter if they are tactile, auditory, or visual learners.


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