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R. Q. 3: What will be the views of the three teachers with respect to the practicality or continued use of the multi-sensory approach based on the results of the test scores after the completion of this study?
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Teachers’ views on the benefits of a multi-sensory Approach to that of a traditional Approach.
The researcher first starts with the perspectives of the three teachers who states that by tapping into the different senses, educators can create a more concrete and complete learning experience for all learners. Teaching learning concepts using two or more of modalities or learning styles at the same time, means that teachers are delivering a multisensory approach to all students in their classrooms. It is the observation of these teachers that as educators some of us may think or feel that multisensory methods or approaches are only useful for students with special needs, however, research has shown that almost all students and teachers can gain great benefits from a multisensory approach in the teaching and learning process.
What’s more is that research has also shown that once teachers are using a multisensory approach to learning they are ensuring and addressing all learning styles and needs of their students. Thus one can be sure that every student in his or her classroom is specifically catered for or to.
It is also the view of both the researcher and teachers in this study that all students benefit from a multisensory approach to learning, not just special education students. Every child processes information differently, and this teaching method allows for each child to use a variety of their senses to understand and process information. The three Teachers also stated that by providing classroom activities that utilize various senses, they have notice that their students learning attention increases which makes and caters for an optimal learning environment.
Research shows that by using varying teaching strategies teachers can address all sensory preference and increases learning regardless of the individual student’s primary preference (Thomas, Cox & Kojima, 2000). Another research also shows that by using multisensory strategies, teachers can engage and sustain the attention of all students. By employing a variety of strategies the teacher may address the mixed efficiencies of those students as well as the dominant and secondary preferences of others. Thus, they reinforce strong preferences and strengthen weaker ones (Silver et al., 2000;Haggart 2003).
Key benefits of the multisensory approach are noted by the three teachers and researcher:
Increased learner engagement
Generating a greater capacity for learning
Encouraging a greater knowledge transfer
Improved attitudes towards learning
Greater student achievement
One of the teachers in this study said to me during the interview and I quote “I had a great feeling of relief when I began to understand that a youngster (student) needs more than just subject matter. Oh, I know mathematics well and I teach it well. I used to think that was all I needed to do. Now I teach the students, not math.” The researcher notes that as teachers, we should know that students learn differently. Some prefer to learn by doing. Others like to watch a demonstration of what they need to do. Some wants to listen to what is expected. Most students appreciate a combination of methods: a little bit of doing it, a little bit of seeing it and a little bit of hearing it. When teachers teach using a combination of methods that appeal to different learning styles (Kinesthetic, tactual, auditory and visual) they are using a multisensory approach which benefits all students involved by equipping them with different learning styles and catering to their development needs.
Effective teachers make a conscious effort to design instruction that incorporates a broad variety of learning preferences beyond their own (Doolan & Honigfeld, 2000; Sadler-Smith & Smith, 2004) Varying teaching strategies to address all sensory preferences increases learning, regardless of the individual student’s primary preference (Thomas, Cox, & Kojima, 2000) Using multisensory strategies, teachers can engage and sustain the attention of all students.
However, it is important to note that like most students remember 20% of what we read, 30% of what we hear, 40% 0f what we see, 50% of what we say, 60% of what we do and 90% of what we see, hear, say and do. Therefore, it is not always possible to provide all four elements but it would be useful to audit teaching approaches and consider how many elements are present all three teachers noted. Maria Montessori was the pioneered of this approach (multisensory approach) in the early twentieth century with young children, who naturally learn by seeing, hearing, touching/feeling, tasting, and smelling.
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The researcher and teachers feel that multisensory teaching is effective and useful at any age. However, age-appropriate resources for secondary students and adult learners have been almost impossible to source. Until now. We really do believe that multisensory teaching techniques coupled with the use of Axis Hands On resources offers all students a Better Ways to Learn.
In concluding, the researcher and teachers have also noted that more recent research has shown that the more senses (multisensory approach) we incorporate into the learning process the more efficient learning becomes for all types of learners. Rhonda Farkus (2003, The Journal of Educational Research, Vol 97, No. 1) states, “The power of evidence supporting the benefits of (multisensory approach) learning-style methodology is compelling. Teachers have also noted that achievement test scores of students taught using their preferred modalities in this study are statistically higher (multisensory approach) than of students who were not taught using their favored learning modalities (traditional approach). Moreover, when students are taught with multi-sensory approach instructional resources, (although initially through their most preferred modality), scores further increased.
Therefore, teachers in this study have also observer that a multi-sensory approach is a powerful tool for reinforcing language Arts teaching in three important ways. First, it helps get the information across. Second, it helps the students process the information. And, third, it helps students more easily retrieve information already learned. Using a variety of senses simply opens up more doorways into the brain.
Teachers views on the challenges of Multisensory Approaches
As educators we spend a great deal of our time thinking, talking, and learning about how to best teach our students essential spelling, writing and reading skills. You can be sure the conversation between two or more educators will eventually include the topics of learning styles, multi-sensory teaching, hands-on activities and even traditional approaches. Unfortunately, confusion (and sometimes conflict) can occur when these terms are used because they have multiple and overlapping definitions.
The main problem teachers may encounter is that there are too many meanings in common use for the term “learning style”. The original use of this term refers to the sensory pathway or modality through which students find it easiest to learn. There are four generally recognized sensory modalities: visual (sight); auditory (hearing); tactile (touch); and kinesthetic (movement). It is the belief of all three teachers interviewed that it is very vital for teachers to understand that different “learning style” encompasses a much broader look at how our students approaches learning situations and tasks and this must often include a complete profile of how our students functions as a learner. In addition to preferred modality, some of the areas profiled must be optimal learning environment (such as best time of day, lighting, temperature and noise level), how his/her personality effects his motivation (such as the need for or avoidance of competition), his/her natural areas of competencies or intelligence and so on.
The teachers who are part of this study feels that by tracing a word with the tip of ones (students) fingers or feeling the shape of the word is vital to helping the tactile learner master his/her writing, reading skills and spelling words. In this regard, adding pleasant textures or sensations creates a stronger neural impression of the words. Thus in the past, (a traditional approach) tactile and kinesthetic learners were often lumped together. However, some of the most current research on how the brain functions shows that two distinct and separate areas of the brain are responsible for storing these two types of sensory input.
The researcher strongly believes that armed with such information listed above, it may be tempting to assume that teachers should determine their student’s favored learning mode and then teach him/her accordingly. This would be a mistake. Teaching using only one learning modality (traditional approach) could result in the neglect of important reading, writing and spelling skills. Proofreading is an example of an essential reading, spelling and writing skill that is primarily visual. It is a skill that does not come naturally to a non-visual learner. It is the teachers view in this study that is for students to become competent and excellent proofreader, we as teachers must help them to develop excellent visual discrimination skills (multisensory approach). Students must be taught to look at the whole word in isolation, with special attention to its shape or the outline of the word. He/she must also look carefully at the word syllable by syllable to see if there are any peculiar combinations of letters, unexpected spellings or any “silent” letters used to spell the word. Finally, students must be given a systematic approach to proofreading his own and others’ writing. It is therefore, the researcher’s and teachers view in this study that the use of a multisensory approach and not a traditional approach will best assist and develop our students early and latent language Arts abilities which will prepare them adequately for life and the future.
The teachers in this study also feel that our student’s dominant learning modality may also have developmental implications if not deal with in a holistic way more so in a multisensory approach. For example, very young children are known to learn mainly through auditory modalities; early school-aged students (kindergarteners) tend to use more kinesthetic and concrete avenues; and as a student nears adolescence, they tends to rely more and more on the abstract and analytical reasoning along with their visual recall. Skills taught using only one learning modality ( as that in the traditional approach)may need to be retaught using another modality as students enters each new developmental level and begins to depend more on other learning modality (multisensory approach) to store and retrieve information. Teaching using (a multisensory approach) allows for multiple learning modalities which in turn eliminate inefficiency. For this reason a multisensory approach and not a traditional approach is the best technique and strategy for teaching phonic and the alphabet awareness skills to kindergarten students.
Therefore it is this researcher’s view that research has consistently shown that use of a multisensory approach to the teaching and learning processes are critical for all students and students more peculiar those who have moderate to severe learning disabilities. In the mid-1920’s, Dr. Samuel T. Orton and his colleagues Anna Gillingham and Bessie Stillman, first began using multi-sensory approaches with his dyslexic students. Orton was influenced by Grace Fernald and Helen Keller’s descriptions of the kinesthetic methods used by Dr. Maria Montessori at the 1915 Panama-Pacific Exposition at San Francisco. Orton correctly theorized that Montessori’s use of kinesthetic reinforcement of visual and auditory associations would correct the tendency to reverse letters and transpose the sequence of letters his dyslexic students made while reading and writing. Their programme, which includes multi-sensory learning as well as other important concepts, is commonly called the Orton-Gillingham approach.
Teachers view on the actual implementation of Multisensory approach.
In light of the positive results that this programme had produced in terms of students’ alphabet and phonemic awareness skills when taught using a multisensory approach in comparison to a non-multisensory approach. As a result all three teachers expressed their interest in continuing the use of the Multisensory Approach.
The focus of this chapter was the presentation of data collected in this study. The quantitative, qualitative and quasi-experimental data were present using narratives, graphs tables and charts. The data revealed that the reactions to a multisensory approach from both students and teachers were generally positive.
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