This paper discusses different instructional criteria that can be used to accommodate different styles of learning within a standards-based curriculum environment. Before the development of the various criteria, it is important to understand the nature and complexities of different learning styles and how these complexities are affected by the standards based curriculum. Learning styles It is important to realize that all people are different and also that their interior and exterior communication processes differ, often in a massive way.
The learning styles and message relayed by the teacher is interpreted in different ways by each student. However, by identifying certain traits about the methods used by people to learn, it has become possible to group certain styles under a common heading. The seven different styles of learning are: 1. Visual (Spatial): Use of images and pictures to understand 2. Aural (auditory-musical): Preference to use music and sound 3. Verbal (linguistic): Understanding by use of words, written and spoken 4.
Physical (Kinesthetic): Preferring to use your body and hands and getting a sense of touch 5. Logical (Mathematical): Understanding through use of logic and systems and sound reasoning 6. Social (interpersonal): Learning in a group environment and in the presence of others 7. Solitary (intrapersonal): Preference of self study and working alone (Overview of learning styles) The problem of different learning styles becomes even more pronounced in a global environment where people of different cultural, ethnic and religious backgrounds are seated in a single classroom.
For instance, Japanese people are known to possess very strong mathematical skills so probably they would prefer a logical/mathematical style of teaching, whereas for Americans, social style of teaching might be more preferable. The problems associated with different learning styles It becomes very stressful for teachers to adopt different teaching styles for different students. If a person’s nature is such that the person prefers to teach using one style and then has to switch due to lack of effective communication, it may become very difficult for most teachers.
On the other hand, students familiar with one style and having to alter their style due to the indifference or incompetence of the teacher also find it highly distressful and de-motivating. Take for example, Chinese students who are normally more comfortable with rote learning. They might have trouble conceptualizing and understanding various subjects not due to their lack of capability, rather non-familiarity with the western teaching methods.
Further compounding the misery of the students is that they are perceived as being “inferior” in terms of their intellectual development by the teacher (who often make it absolutely clear with embarrassing ease how they feel), whereas its mostly the teacher’s own ineptitude that he or she is trying to hide. As Tobias (1990) says: “they’re not dumb, they’re different” (Science for all) Standards-Based Curriculum The aforementioned problems with the difficulty that teachers have to face with different learning styles is one of the reasons for the introduction of Standards based education.
Standards based curriculum system was primarily devised to give every person an equal opportunity to work hard and reap rewards. In standards based education system, goals are set and students should be able to achieve those goals to progress further. This form of teaching has sometimes been dubbed as “backward mapping” as the process has been reversed and it is already known to the assessors what the students should be capable of at that point in time (Standards based curriculum development, 2000). Instructional criteria
To manage the complexities of teaching to students with different backgrounds and different preferences in terms of preferred learning styles is not at all an easy task. Nonetheless, it is not impossible, and in my opinion, is the responsibility of the educational institute to provide the teachers with sufficient training and guidance to make sure they understand the task at hand. Several types of criteria are possible that can be used to cater to the needs of students with different learning styles in standards based education system.
Firstly, the teacher must realize and understand the fact that every student is different in most ways – background, understanding capacity, motivational capacity, personal experiences, and so on and so forth. It is the responsibility of the teacher as a mature and responsible adult to build the esteem and familiarize the “weak” student with the new style of teaching. Secondly, and importantly, anecdotes are recommended as they increase the level of interest for students and make understanding relatively easier for the student.
Third, a teacher should communicate clearly, and in a more neutral accent so that the students from diverse backgrounds do not find it difficult to understand the message. The teacher should also refrain from using words with too many syllables and make it as simple as possible for the student so that he or she is not lost in the middle of the discussion. Fourth, and perhaps most important, the goals should be flexible. After all, the purpose is not to fail the student – on the contrary it has to be seen that true progress has been made.
There has to be a stronger emphasis on conceptual understanding rather than the marks or grades received in the assessment. Often students who score low marks fail to express what they have understood when they have actually achieved the gist of the concepts. In such cases, it is highly recommended to frame objective questions rather than descriptive with clear and simple wording. Fifth, counseling needs to be provided to students who consistently fail to meet the standards. Private meetings with the student are often advisable.
In these meetings, it is important to gauge and ascertain the root causes of the lackluster performance of the student. Is it due to some domestic situation that the student is underperforming? If so, a meeting with the parents is in order. Other reasons for poor performance can be lack of interest, reading disability or some other unfortunate deficiency such as dyslexia. Finally, Adam Kinory, a New York school teacher says that all projects should end with an assessment asking students the following questions: 1. What did I learn in this lesson? 2. How does this relate to real life? 3.
What does this tell me about myself and how can I can use that in the next project (Teaching Methods, 2003) Things to keep in mind It needs to be reiterated that the purpose of the standards based system is to provide everyone with an equal and fair chance to excel. The purpose is to increase the general educational level across the nation. But some experts claim that the system kills creativity and innovation by not allowing students the liberty to express themselves properly. Teachers have to be mindful of this aspect and accordingly manage those students so that their skills are not left ignored. List of References
Overview of learning styles. (n. d. ). Retrieved 2 2, 2009, from learning-styles-online. com: http://www. learning-styles-online. com/overview/ Science for all. (n. d. ). Retrieved 2 2, 2009, from How can different learning styles be addressed: http://www. pbs. org/teacherline/courses/rdla130/pdfs/edth_learning_styles. pdf Standards based curriculum development. (2000). Retrieved 2 2, 2009, from The planning process: http://www. bused. org/rsabe/rsabe03. pdf Teaching Methods. (2003). Retrieved 2 2, 2009, from Teaching Practice: http://newali. apple. com/ali_sites/ali/exhibits/1000328/Learning_Styles. html