The Institute for Learning Styles Research (ILSR), a team of instructors, researchers, and individuals interested in the art and science of learning and teaching reported information that I find interesting and appropriate for teacher learning and in-service training and critical approaches to student success.
The members of the ILRS use The Dunn and Dunn Learning Styles Model in their work. This model is believed to be the most used model internationally (Buli-Holmgren, Guldahl & Jensen, 2007; Lauridsen, 2009). It focuses on areas that are significant for learning new and complex information. Since learning styles preferences are a combination of natural and learned patterns of learning, the Dunn and Dunn model is a fitting approach to successful teacher instruction and student learning. Educational practitioners appreciate the notion that identical methods, environments, materials and instruction are effective for some students and ineffective for others – one size does not fit everyone. Individual styles approach distinguishes the elements of learning in significant ways. The elements of past academic achievement (knowledge of what and how the student has learned in other grades) and work habits, gender, age, culture, and information processing strategies inform the style that learning must take.
Research over a forty year period has shown that there are twenty different typologies that can be used to measure learning impact to a 95% level of predictability. The factors can be put in five areas of stimuli: environmental, emotional, psychological, physiological, and sociological (Dunn & Griggs, 2007). To match a strategy with an individual, it is important to be aware of what affects concentration, retention, and motivation. This may require careful preliminary work with the individual to develop awareness. It is important that this be not confused with psychological approaches or related tests.
The aspect of learning styles is significant enough to be a vital part of teacher training and periodic teacher in-service. Success for students could be assured with attention to individual’s learning preferences. With so many children arriving at school from circumstances of emotional and other deficit life situations, it is necessary to adapt approaches to teaching and learning that put the needs of the individual student at the center of the learning experience. Some students will not learn well unless they are taught according to their learning preferences.
Teachers that teach in the “traditional” way – with visual and auditory methods, while the learning preferences of their students are markedly different, may find some students struggling to succeed. To reach most students, teachers may consider the following:
• Distinguish the individual profiles of students as well as the entire class profile. This will assist in determining what a successful teaching approach should involve.
• Interpret the profiles and share the information with the students so that each student can be informed of the best way to learn.
• Encourage individual students to study in the manner that their preferential strengths assert.
• Suggest individual study strategies instead of one type of study approach.
• Personally be available for consultation and feedback for students at school and when students are away from school – technology allows this to occur.
• Allow for sessions to follow-up and provide maintenance of habits.
Success in general is not an easy undertaking. It demands a willingness to commit to the excellence of each student and the personal desire of teachers to give themselves to the highest ideals of teaching and learning, which translates to the success of every student without exception.