’
Title: Teacher’s Journal – Session 4 - Inclusive Learning, Individual Learning
Styles (VA(R)K and PRAT Analyses)
Author:...
In one of our sessions we were given a communication exercise where one learner
would sit with his or her back to another ...
place where we play out our sympathies, in our choice of genre for example. And
there is a certain song whose character co...
Bibliography

Black, F. and AlecEiffel.net (1997) Lyrics: Trompe Le Monde, [Online], Available:
http://aleceiffel.free.fr/...
Teacher’s Journal – Session 4 - Inclusive Learning, Individual Learning Styles (VA(R)K and PRAT Analyses)
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Teacher’s Journal – Session 4 - Inclusive Learning, Individual Learning Styles (VA(R)K and PRAT Analyses)

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NOTE: This is an original and personal journal entry that ‘cites’ the work of others in a “Bibliography” (see below). A Bibliography like mine is one way of giving authors credit for their work. A Bibliography can take many forms; there are various different styles. However you choose to do this in your own writing, it’s the “giving credit” that’s important. If you wish to quote me, or use my original elements for inspiration, please acknowledge this source using the information above and the address of this website, as I have acknowledged my sources. This way, you will not be infringing copyright or plagiarising. Also, if you like anything you see here, I’d be grateful if you could drop me a line or leave a comment. Information about citing (a.k.a. referencing) is abundant on the internet – try http://www.essex.ac.uk/myskills/skills/referencing/referencingSkills.asp by Essex University, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Citation by Wikipedia Contributors, or the automatic bibliography maker at http://www.easybib.com/, by ImagineEasy Solutions.

Thanks,
Peter Buckley.

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Teacher’s Journal – Session 4 - Inclusive Learning, Individual Learning Styles (VA(R)K and PRAT Analyses)

  1. 1. ’ Title: Teacher’s Journal – Session 4 - Inclusive Learning, Individual Learning Styles (VA(R)K and PRAT Analyses) Author: Peter Buckley Date of last revision: 3/8/2009 NOTE: This is an original and personal journal entry that ‘cites’ the work of others in a “Bibliography” (see below). A Bibliography like mine is one way of giving authors credit for their work. A Bibliography can take many forms; there are various different styles. However you choose to do this in your own writing, it’s the “giving credit” that’s important. If you wish to quote me, or use my original elements for inspiration, please acknowledge this source using the information above and the address of this website, as I have acknowledged my sources. This way, you will not be infringing copyright or plagiarising. Also, if you like anything you see here, I’d be grateful if you could drop me a line or leave a comment. Information about citing (a.k.a. referencing) is abundant on the internet – try http://www.essex.ac.uk/myskills/skills/referencing/referencingSkills.asp by Essex University, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Citation by Wikipedia Contributors, or the automatic bibliography maker at http://www.easybib.com/, by ImagineEasy Solutions. Thanks, Peter Buckley. In this journal, I will offer a personal account of where I stand within the veritable matrix of learning styles that exist and how I have demonstrated them in class. “We all have preferred ways of learning and learn better from some activities than others”. (http://www.peterhoney.com/, 30th July 2009) Honey and Mumford broke learning down into four learning types. As we learnt in Session 4, the learning styles are as follows (Excerpted from http://elc.polyu.edu.hk/CILL/styles.htm, 30th July 2009) • ‘Pragmatist' - A person who likes to learn practical things. Pragmatists like relevance to real problems, immediate chances to try things out and experts they can emulate. • 'Reflector' - A person who likes to observe, analyse and research. Reflectors like thinking things through, careful research and unemotional observation. • 'Activist' - An active person who likes new things. Activists like new problems, being 'thrown in at the deep end' and team work. • 'Theorist' - A person who is interested in theories and research - Theorists like interesting concepts, structured situations and opportunities to ask questions.
  2. 2. In one of our sessions we were given a communication exercise where one learner would sit with his or her back to another and describe a shape or object to a fellow learner, who would have to draw it. It is my belief that our choice of images was telling in terms of our respective learning styles. My colleagues’ chosen picture was an intricate, precise and geometrical pattern. I might guess that the learner who described this pattern has a tendency towards Theorist and - due to the pattern’s complexity - Activist learning styles. I, on the other hand, described a naïvely simplistic evocation of a house. The nostalgic element of this may suggest ‘Reflector’, but the practical element (it is a well known shape of some architectural coherence) may also be indicative of a Pragmatist. This is an abstract understanding of learning styles, yet it is worth reporting here since my colleague and I both commented on this possible significance of the task in relation to Honey and Mumford’s theory. Neil Fleming’s defined learner types in terms of learner’s preferred styles of learning, and learning strategies. These (‘VARK’) strategies are as follows (excerpted and adapted from Fleming’s VARK help sheets at http://www.vark- learn.com/english/page.asp?p=helpsheets, accessed 31st July 2009): • Visual Study Strategies (V) - receptive to pictures, videos, posters, slides. interested in drawing, colour, layout and design. Holistic rather than reductionist. • Aural Study Strategies (A) – The learners prefer to have things explained through speech. More receptive to sound, and what is heard/spoken rather than written. • Read/write Study Strategies (R) – Word-orientated. In Fleming’s words, “talk is OK but a handout is better.” • Kinaesthetic Study Strategies (K) – Concerned with the “practical, real, and relevant”. Understanding through “doing”. Action-orientated. • Multimodal Study Strategies (MM) - multiple preferences In my peer evaluations of our microteaching day, I praised a fellow colleague’s session for its kinaesthetic element. I admire this, in the main, because it’s a style of learning and teaching which is not my strong point. Historically, when the opportunity has arisen, I have chosen to learn art and literature over sport; disciplines that play to my learning style. As such, my own microteaching session was focussed on Visual (PowerPoint slides with high pictorial content) and Read/Write styles (inherent in its subject of poetry). I tried to appeal to Aural learning styles by explaining things verbally and encouraging learners to “shout out” examples of personification. Kinaesthetic strategies, I feel, were noticeably absent. As a result of my recent university studies, my teaching and learning styles are still influenced by the conventions of that environment. This is a bias I will work to avoid in future. As teachers must be aware of their biases, my own learning style preferences might be best explained with an example from my music collection. Music often seems the
  3. 3. place where we play out our sympathies, in our choice of genre for example. And there is a certain song whose character could be a learner in a class. The song Alec Eiffel, from the 1991 album Trompe Le Monde by Pixies, tells of a future “Pioneer of aerodynamics” who learns in an idiosyncratic way (http://aleceiffel.free.fr/lyr_tlm.html, 31st July 2009). He spends a lot of time standing in an archway - reflecting on, thinking of, staring at who-knows-what, to the extent that he attracts ridicule from those who are not inclined towards this learning strategy. Alec Eiffel is, in Honey and Mumford’s terms, a Reflector, who is able to convert the result of his reflections into theory. In terms of VARK, he is a visual learner, who is intellectually stimulated by the shape of the archway. He is described as “panoramic” – or “Holistic rather than reductionist” in Fleming’s definition of visual learners. As an adult he is able to apply this to practical kinaesthetic action. Though I don’t spend so much time staring at archways, I believe that a VARK analysis of my own learning could look a lot like Eiffel’s. My choice of this song as an example also demonstrates my investment, to a greater or lesser extent, in a certain prevalent but naïvely romantic ideal of learning, which as I continue my journey into “real” experience in the classroom, may be a help, a hindrance, or both. During the sessions of this PTLLs course, I have been frantically taking written notes. What I have been trying to capture in each session is a synthesised combination of what was spoken by the tutor, and the text of the slides. I suspect, given my inclination towards the “R” in VARK, the text of the slides “won out”, or at least framed my understanding of the spoken content. In previous courses, I have also used a Dictaphone to capture the aural aspect of lessons, but even then, I was likely to transcribe them. The piece I am most proud of in my portfolio is my Scheme of Work. It was this I most enjoyed. I surprised myself in that I enjoyed the practice of record-keeping. During the creation of my Scheme of Work, I was able to visualise the content of my course. If something did not work in my mental visualisations, I discounted it. If it did, I committed it directly to my Scheme of Work. I could have recorded and played back some of what I might say to learners in my sessions, and “heard” the Scheme of Work this way, aurally. There are kinaesthetically-minded people who might pace the floor while planning their Scheme of Work, gesturing to learners he or she imagines occupying a certain space in the room. He/she might even go to the classroom prior to the lesson to walk around it, “get a feel for it”, spatially, before committing anything to paper. Teachers must avoid their biases negatively restricting the ‘learning-style opportunities’ available to learners. For example, the kinaesthetic learner-teacher may be tempted to let his/her persuasions inform the tasks that he/she provides for learners. However, this is not in learner’s best interests. To nurture an inclusive learning experience, teachers must differentiate their teaching and session content to suit all learning styles on the VARK and PRAT spectrums.
  4. 4. Bibliography Black, F. and AlecEiffel.net (1997) Lyrics: Trompe Le Monde, [Online], Available: http://aleceiffel.free.fr/lyr_tlm.html [31 July 2009]. Centre for Independent Language Learning, (2004) Learning Styles, [Online], Available: http://elc.polyu.edu.hk/CILL/styles.htm [30 July 2009]. Fleming, N. (2007) The VARK Helpsheets: Study Practices Keyed to VARK Preferences, [Online], Available: http://www.vark- learn.com/english/page.asp?p=helpsheets [31 July 2009]. Peter Honey Publications, Honey & Mumford Learning Styles Questionnaire (LSQ), [Online], Available: http://www.peterhoney.com/ [30 July 2009].

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