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Presented at the 2004 Teaching Assistants/Associates Workshop By Dr. Constance M. Ellison Associate Professor Program Coordinator, Educational Psychology School of Education Department of Human Development and Psychoeducational Studies Howard University August 19, 2004.

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integrating learning style diversity into the classroom

Presented at the

2004 Teaching Assistants/Associates Workshop


Dr. Constance M. Ellison

Associate Professor

Program Coordinator, Educational Psychology

School of Education

Department of Human Development and Psychoeducational Studies

Howard University

August 19, 2004

“Integrating Learning Style Diversity into the Classroom
goal of presentation
Goal of Presentation
  • To provide participants with information to assist in an understanding of classroom competence and its relationship to diversity in learning style orientation among learners.
objectives of presentation
Objectives of Presentation
  • Generate a firm grasp of what diverse learning styles are for culturally different learners.
  • Develop an appreciation for learning styles and the modes in which learners best maximizing their learning potential.
imagine this
  • Take a moment and picture your idea of a perfect teaching year. Imagine how you want to feel, the climate of your classroom, and some of the goals and expectations you have set for yourself and your students.
  • align what you have imagined with your personal educational philosophy. Start your sentence with “My Personal Educational Philosophy is That…”
personal educational philosophy






  • America today continues to be entrenched in its diversity and the ability of its people to work together to achieve great things.
  • At the core of this ideal is the essence of cultural competence.
  • We know that an individual learner's culture, family background, and socioeconomic level affect his or her learning.
definition of terms
Definition of Terms
  • Culture
  • Cultural Competence
  • Learning Style
Student motivation to learn is an acquired competence, but stimulated most directly through:
  • modeling, communication of expectations, and
  • direct instruction or socialization by significant others (especially parents and teachers).

Brophy (1987)

what type of classroom instruction promotes student motivation to learn
What type of classroom instruction promotes student motivation to learn?
  • Diversity, variety, and novelty
  • Over determination for Success
  • Meaningfulness and relevance
  • High Expectations
what type of classroom assessment promotes student motivation to learn
What type of classroom ASSESSMENT promotes student motivation to learn?
  • Clear goals and expectations
  • Multiple assessment methods
  • Good Feedback
  • Opportunities to Improve
  • Good methods of evaluating and reporting student progress


teaching and learning styles the academic culture
Teaching and Learning Styles: the Academic Culture
  • Research shows that student motivation and performance improves when instruction is adapted to student learning preferences and styles.
  • TA’s as educators have a responsibility to understand the diversity of their students and to present information in a variety of ways in order to accommodate all learners' preferences.
diversity uniformity and school practices
Diversity, Uniformity and School Practices
  • More than 50 years ago, Nathaniel Cantor observed that "the public elementary and high schools, and colleges, generally project what they consider to be the proper way of learning which is uniform for all students"
  • In 50 years, too little has changed. Most schools still function as if all students were the same. This view negates the notion that there are many ways to be smart.
is this kind of sameness always wrong
Is this kind of sameness always wrong?
  • Imbalance between uniformity and diversity.
  • At present, schools are heavily biased toward uniformity over diversity.
  • We need to decide intentionally what should be uniform for all students and what should be diverse and strive toward putting into practice what we say we believe. 
  • The current imbalance is easily understood. Sameness is always easier to accommodate than difference, and education practices often have been developed to consciously promote the same education for all students.
is this kind of sameness always wrong1
Is this kind of sameness always wrong?
  • The need to address the balance between uniformity and diversity is urgent because the current imbalance is consistently damaging to many learners and teachers.
emphasis on uniformity
Emphasis on Uniformity
  • Students whose families value collaboration are told to be independent.
  • Students whose culture values spontaneity are told to exercise self‑control.
  • Students who are rewarded in their families for being social aretold to work quietly and alone.
defining learning style
Defining Learning Style

The Drum

daddy says the world is

a drum tight and hard

and i told him

i'm gonna beat

out my own rhythm


diversity of learning styles
Diversity of Learning Styles

So, what do research show regarding the different ways of learning?


Various Learning Style Models


Type Indicator


Extraverts and


Sensors and


Thinkers & Feelers

Judgers and



Index of Learning

Styles (ILS)

Visual & Verbal

Active & Reflective

Sensing & Intuitive

Sequential & Global

Kolb’s Learning


Concrete, Reflective

Abstract, Reflective

Abstract, Active

Concrete, Active

Hermann Brain



Quadrant A

(Left Brain, Cerebral)

Quadrant B

(Left Brain, Limbic)

Quadrant C

(Right Brain, Limbic)

Quadrant D

(Right Brain, Cerebral)


Eight Principles of Learning

  • We learn to do by doing
  • We learn to do what we do and not something else
  • Without readiness, learning is inefficient and my be harmful
  • Without motivation there can be no learning at all
  • For effective learning, responses must be immediately reinforced

Eight Principles of Learning Con’t

  • Meaningful content is better learned and longer retained than less meaningful content
  • One's response will vary according to how one perceives the situation
  • For the greatest amount of transfer learning, responses should be learned in the way they are going to be used

Learning Tips for Effective

Instructors As Instructors

We must Remember

  • Learning occurs within each individual as a continual process throughout life
  • Students learn at different speeds, so it is natural for them to be anxious or nervous when faced with a learning situation
  • Positive reinforcement by the instructor can enhance learning, as can proper timing of the instruction
  • Instructors should present materials that stimulates as many senses as possible in order to increase their chances of teaching success
multiple intelligences learning styles paradigm
Multiple Intelligences Learning Styles Paradigm
  • Builds on teacher/student assets and strengths
  • Fosters a Sense of Community
  • Drawing on Existing Knowledge
  • Promoting Ownership, Responsibility, and Accountability

Traditional Definition of Intelligence

  • Intelligence is a uniform cognitive capacity people are born with. This capacity can be easily measured by short-answer tests
multiple intelligences theory theorymm
Multiple Intelligences Theory THEORYMM

Recognizes that different students have different ways to be smart, when a student “doesn’t get it,” we attempt to reach the student in a different way.

Therefore, if there are many ways to be smart, there must be many ways to teach.

multiple intelligences
Multiple Intelligences

The theory of multiple intelligences was developed in 1983 by Dr. Howard Gardner, professor of education at Harvard University. It suggests that the traditional notion of intelligence, based on I.Q. testing, is far too limited. Instead, Dr. Gardner proposes eight different intelligences or ways of knowing to account for a broader range of human potential in children and adults.

multiple intelligences theory

Multiple Intelligences Theory


Central proposition:

“There is not one or two ways to be smart – there are MANY ways to be smart.”

Spencer & Kagan (1998)

multiple intelligences1
Multiple Intelligences

Multiple Intelligences


multiple intelligences theory1
Multiple Intelligences Theory
  • We all are "smart" in different ways within each intelligence area;
  • We are all unique in how our intelligences merge; and
  • While we have multiple intelligences, we are often better in some intelligences than others.
multiple intelligences vision
Multiple Intelligences Vision

Howard Gardner’s (1993)

Multiple Intelligences (MI) Theory

Indicates a new visions of what

education CAN BE.

benefits of infusing mi into the classroom talent development approach
Benefits of Infusing MI into the Classroom Talent Development Approach
  • Provides opportunities for authentic learning based on your students' needs, interests and talents. The multiple intelligence classroom

acts like the "real" world. Students become active, involved learners.

benefits of infusing mi into the classroom talent development approach1
Benefits of Infusing MI into the Classroom Talent Development Approach
  • Students will be able to demonstrate and

share their strengths.

  • Building strengths gives a student the

motivation to be a "specialist."

  • This can lead to increased self-esteem

and heightened student classroom success.

benefits of infusing mi into the classroom talent development approach2
Benefits of Infusing MI into the Classroom Talent Development Approach

When you "teach for understanding," students accumulate positive educational experiences and the capability for creating solutions to problems in life.

fostering a diverse learning environment
Fostering a Diverse Learning Environment
  • In a diverse classroom it is essential to be able to separate worth from behavior. The worth of each student should never be questioned.
  • Enhance the self-respect of individual students by referring to valuable ideas and comments and building on their strengths and assets.
  • View learning style diversity as an opportunity to learn rather than an obstacle.
fostering a diverse learning environment1
Fostering a Diverse Learning Environment
  • Students must be viewed and treated as individuals while respecting their race, ethnic origin, and gender.
  • Students must be assured that one important point of the class is to explore and understand diversity. The strategy must be to celebrate everyone and to denigrate no one.
  • Create an environment of trust and mutual respect so that discussion is not inhibited by fear.
a final word
A Final Word….
  • According to Gay (1994)

"Educators must thoroughly understand how culture shapes learning styles, teaching behaviors, and educational decisions. They must then develop a variety of means to accomplish common learning outcomes that reflect the preferences and styles of a wide variety of groups and individuals. By giving all students more choices about how they will learn--choices that are compatible with their cultural styles--none will be unduly advantaged or disadvantaged at the procedural levels of learning. These choices will lead to closer parallelism (e.g., equity) in opportunities to learn and more comparability in students' achieving the maximum of their own intellectual capabilities (e.g., excellence)." (p. 20))