Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Technological Learner?

As an undergrad at Mount St. Mary's College, I contributed to the development of the training and coursework of the Women's Leadership Program. During that time, we tested out many leadership theories and style inventories in an attempt to find the best match for our program. We found that many useful inventories were available that supported the leadership theories we were investigating. We also found that we could not just select one inventory to address all our needs. When using inventories to assess learning styles, it is best to test and compare results from a variety of sources.

So, I completed three learning style inventories. According to the Multiple Intelligences for Adult Literacy and Education's "Assessment: How Are You Smart?", my learning styles are interpersonal (86%), naturalist (71%), and kinesthetic (69%). My results on Richard M. Felder and Barbara A. Soloman's "Learning Styles and Strategies" assessment, state that I am far more active than reflective, more intuitive than sensing, much more visual than verbal, and barely more sequential than global; my overall strengths are visual and active. According to Neil Fleming's VARK Inventory, I am multimodal, but my strengths are kinesthetic and visual. Overall, I am amused by the results of these surveys. I completely agree that I am social, active, intuitive, and kinesthetic. However, I also teach high school English, so I am also very capable and interested in linguistics, read/write, and verbal.

When I taught middle school support classes, I incorporated a learning styles inventory into my curriculum. It was called Shape-Up! and divided the students into four learning styles; hearts, diamonds, circles, and squares. The groupings combined learning styles with teacher and student styles. At the beginning of the school year, my students completed the assessment to determine their style and completed activities to assist students to successfully work with other "shapes" when completing projects. (This curriculum was created by a local San Diego County teacher. I will post more information when I am able to access my manual.)

If I were to select an online inventory to use in my current high school classroom, I would use "Assessment: How Are You Smart?" provided by Multiple Intelligences for Adult Literacy and Education. This inventory is based on the work of Howard Gardner, and includes social, nature, body movement, self, language, spatial, logic/math, and music styles. The results of the assessment are very easy to understand. For example next to my interpersonal rating, it stated, "effective techniques of enhancing your learning using your social intelligence include taking part in group discussions or discussing a topic one-to-one with another person" (Assessment, n.d.). Additionally, a practice resources are available, which give ideas such as, "Set up interview questions, and interview your family" (Practice, n.d.). My students could independently use this resource.

One element that seems to be lacking in the learning style inventories is the inclusion of technology. It seems that these styles are all based on pre-technology classrooms. Though many of the categories can be stretched to include technology, current tools are not mentioned in the implementation or development of these learning style strengths. I would actually best classify myself a technological, social, kinesthetic, read/write learner.

Assessment: How Are You Smart?. (n.d.). Multiple Intelligences for Adult Literacy and Education . Retrieved June 3, 2010, from literacyworks.org/mi/home.html
Felder, R., & Soloman, B. (n.d.). Felder & Soloman: Learning Styles and Strategies. NC State. Retrieved June 3, 2010, from http://www4.ncsu.edu/unity/lockers/users/f/felder/public/ILSdir/styles.htm
Fleming, N. (n.d.). The VARK Inventory. Honolulu Community College. Retrieved June 3, 2010, from http://honolulu.hawaii.edu/intranet/committees/FacDevCom/guidebk/teachtip/vark.htm

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