Focus on Curriculum Development Learning Styles
Introduction: There are different learning styles that have developed with accompanying tests that helps individuals to understand their learning styles. A learning style is a method that is used to educate which is particular to a specific individual and which is assumed that if used by that individual, it will help them to learn their best. It has been described as that particular style that helps individuals to process the stimuli of their mind which helps them to understand what they are being taught.
Though the concept of learning style is relatively young having gained ground in the 1970s, it has become an important process in the modern education especially on matters concerning how teachers use it in the curriculum and how it is used in the development of the curriculum. It has been found out that if teachers understand the learning styles of their pupil, they can help their students to adapt to the needs of their classroom work and hence make the process of learning interesting to them. Therefore it has been found quite important to integrate the various learning styles of students in the curriculum in order to ensure that the curriculum meets the needs of the various students who are taught using the same curriculum. (Wang and Nagy, 2007)
This paper looks at different learning styles that have been identified. It will try to relate the learning styles with how they are being in the curriculum. Hence the focus will be on the learning styles and how the curriculum has been developed to cater for the needs of different learning styles. But first let us look at learning styles.
Models and theories of learning styles
There are more that 80 learning styles that have been proposed but all of them consist of some basic styles. There are three basic learning models that have been identified and that are used by learners. Let us look at these models.
This is a model where student learn through seeing. It is a method in which ideas, concepts, and other information are closely associated with the images that are represented in a graphical manner. The learner just need to see the body language of the teacher and the facial expression that the teacher in order to understand what they are teaching. This method is mostly used by those students who are able to concentrate for a long time and who prefer to sit in front of their classrooms in order to avoid any distraction to their visual aids. These students may think in pictures and at the same time learn form the visual displays like diagrams, overhead transparencies, videos, flip charts, and other materials which use visual aids to communicate. The learners are usually very much attentive during the classroom lessons and they take notes in order to absorb most of the information that is being given by the teacher. (Lawrence, 1999)
Researches have found out that visual learning theory helps students to improve in many education areas including critical thinking where they are likely to link graphics with verbal and visual information and draw understanding from such a relationship, retention where these students are likely to remember most of the information which was visually or verbally represented, comprehension where student can understand new ideas and connect then to their previous experience or knowledge, and organization where the students can actually use diagrams in order to organize large amount of data in a way that it can be easily understood. The base of this learn style lies in the way a student can visualize the data and later interpret it and build literacy along that data. (Sather, 2007)
Auditory Learning Style
This is a style where students learn through listening. In this style, students learn through verbal lectures which include a variety of discussions, talking and listening. The student who uses this style may not strive to be in front of the classroom but they like staying at a distance where they can get most of what is happening. They are able to interpret the meaning of a speech through interpreting the underlying tone of teacher voice, pitch, speed and other nuances of speech. They may not concentrate on writing what is being said but they are very keen on listening what is being said. They don’t rush to take notes but they take time to write their notes. The learners also can benefit a lot from reading aloud texts and also use a tape recorder. This style is used by about 20 percent of the population. In most instances, when these students are learning, the read but they cannot understand if there is no sound in the background. Therefore most to them will be reading and at the same time listening to music or any other background noise. Some of the students have been found to read when there is noise in the background. These learners focus more on the sound that they are hearing that what they are learning. When they are spelling, they usually use sounds. In case they meet with individuals, they are likely to forget their faces but remember their names. These students also like to talk a lot. (Kolb, 2003)
Tactile or Kinesthetic Learners
These can be described as learners who learn by moving, doing or touching. They have been descried as learning best through a hands approach in which they actively explore the physical world around them. Although they may appear like restless students how finds it hard to sit still for long period, they use their restlessness in moving and touching to learns. In this regard, this learning style is said to take place when student carry out the physical learning activity instead of taking their time to listen or watch the demonstration of a learning activity. Student who use this learning styles have been said to the some of the natural discoverers learners as they are able to achieve most of their learning through practical applicability of the theories unlike having thought over something for along time and then initiating the concept. However there is not evidence that has been shown to support the efficacy of the kinesthetic theory of learning.
Going by the above learning theories, the visual learners makes up to 30 percent of the population while the auditory learners are around 20 to 25 percent. There fore kinesthetic learners could make up majority of the population in this regard making up to about 45 percent of learners. Kinesthetic learners have been found to be more efficient in the other physical activities at school and in other areas of application.
This analysis gives us the three major types of learning styles that are used. This shows diversity that exists in the student population and therefore there is need to understand this diversity in order to be an effective curriculum instructor. This indicates that though a teacher may be having student in the same class, they m ay be having diverse needs than the physical needs that the teacher can actually see in the students. Therefore as was said in the introduction, there is need for the teacher to have full knowledge of the diverse learning styles of each and every student in order to cater for their needs. Without such and understand of the learning styles of students, it would be hard for a teacher to identify students and classify them into their respective learning styles. This would help the teacher to serve them well. Let us now look at how the curriculum is developed in order to cater for the needs of these students. (Fang, 2002)
Curriculum Development and Learning Styles
Curriculum is used to support the effort of the teacher in education. A curriculum is just a set of program that gives detail on how students should be taught. It acts as guideline that is systematically made to allow learner to understand concepts it stages. It is an important tool not only to the teacher but also to the learners. Educators place so much emphasize on the design of the curriculum since it has impacts on the education of the students. Curriculum and instruction are some of the most important sectors in education. Hence we can say the curriculum is the base of any education process. (McCarthy, 2004)
As we have said learning theories are very imprint in the education process. This is because they have an impact on the design of not only the curriculum but also instruction and assessment. Learning theories are considered when coming up with the process since they are important in supporting the education process. Learning theories are important in the curriculum since educator place a lot of emphases on the intuition, feeing, sensing, imagination and other aspects that are important in helping the student understand what they are being taught. In the curriculum learning styles are also important in analyze, reason and the problem solving process.
In the instruction, learning theories have an impact in that teachers should come up with their own instruction methods which will help the students understand what they are being taught. Teachers should come up with instruction methods that caters for the needs of the students using the above four learning styles. This means that it will first take the teacher time to understand the kind of learners who are in the class and try to address their needs in the process of teaching. A teacher will use various experiences that have been gained over time. In addition a teacher will be expect to use reflections, conceptualization and experimentations in coming up with the best teaching method that will help the students understand. As instructors of the curriculum, teachers can introduce variety of experiment elements in the classrooms like sound, music, visuals, body movement, verbal lecturing and other methods which will cater for the needs of the students.
For a teacher to know whether they are giving needed curriculum and instruction to the student, they are likely to assess the students. This is a part of the curriculum which shows the effective of the design and implementation of the curriculum. In this regard, teachers must understanding the needs and learning styles of different students in order to come up the proper assessment techniques. Because teachers cannot give different assessment tests to different students according to their learning style, they should therefore employ various techniques in the assessment that will help them to develop all the brains in their classroom. In their regard, the assessment tests should be balance such that it addresses all the needs of students without giving undue advantage to others.
The curriculum is made up of the above mentioned three aspects. That means that there is the curriculum content, there must be defined was in which the curriculum shall be instructed to the students, and it must provide means of assessment for the contents of the curriculum. Therefore the provision of the curriculum must be based on the learning style as had been illustrate above.
Consideration of the learning styles is very crucial in the learning environment since it dictates the way the curriculum is developed. In developing the curriculum, there must be effort to address the needs of each and every student. As we have seen from our analysis, the biggest percentage among the student population perhaps the kinesthetic learner who constitute about 45 percent of the population. Therefore the curriculum must take into consideration this proportion of the population in order to have relevant and effective contents. The content of the curriculum must give specific details which ensure that the deliver of the contents will have more practical work than theoretic work. This is in order to work with the percentage of the population that is high in the population.
Unfortunately many curriculums that have been designed have not kept to the issue of learning theories in the population. This makes many of the curriculums unable to meet their expectation. The expectation of any curriculum is to impart knowledge to the students in the simplest manner possible. This will help them to gain knowledge easily. Therefore if the curriculum is to meet its goals, it must be designed in a way that it addressed the needs of each and every learner in the population. In this regard the curriculum may be having the contents that take care of the learners but the instructors may fail to implement these provisions. This makes learning ineffective and student underperforms.
As we have seen there are various learning styles that are used by students. These learning styles are important since they help each and every student to understand the contents of the curriculum in the simplest way possible. Teachers as the instructors of the curriculum must understand the learning style of their students in order to give them the best instructions that they need in their learning process. The design of the curriculum must also take care of the needs of each and every student. Therefore the curriculum should be developed in a way that its content, instruction and the assessment guides must give each and every student an advantage. This means that teachers as the instructors of the curriculum have a role to play to ensure that the needs of each and every student is met.
Fang, A. (2002). Utilization of learning styles in curriculum development. New York State
Kolb, D. (2003). Experiential Learning: Experience as the Source of Learning and Development. New York: Wiley
Lawrence, G. (1999). Practical Guide to Learning Styles; Oxford University
McCarthy, B. (2004). Teaching to Learning Styles; London: Routledge
Sather, A. (2007). The benefit of principals and teaching of supporting youth engagement in school; NASSP Bulletin December 2007
Wang, N. & Nagy, J. (2007): The alternate route teacher transition to the class. NASSP Bulletin, March 2007