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Questions that should be considered when reading this chapter: • What factors contribute to a successful learning environment? • What are the three domains of learning? • What the four learning style modalities? • What is a standard-based curriculum? • What are the six principles of behavior management? The basic goal in education is to establish and maintain a successful learning environment. Educational leaders should consider several factors in the effort of creating a learning environment that is conducive to successful learning. Among these factors to be considered are the allowances made for the student’s learning styles and the acknowledgements of the impact it has on quality education. The needs of the learner should be the basics for all instructional methodologies and curriculum design. Another factor to consider in successful learning environments is effective behavior management. Behavior management is a foundation in successful learning environments.
Learning Domains: A comprehensive definition of learning style has been adopted by the national task force, comprised of leading theorists in the field and sponsored by the National Association of Secondary School Principals. This group defined "learning styles" as the composite of characteristic cognitive, affective, and physiological factors that serve as relatively stable indicators of how a learner perceives, interacts with, and responds to the learning environment (Keefe, 1979). These factors are direct consequences of Bloom’s Taxonomy developed in 1956. Bloom’s Taxonomy defines the cognitive domain as the acquisition of knowledge. It has three instructional levels including fact, understanding, and application. The fact level is a single concept and uses verbs like define, identify, and list. The understanding level puts two or more concepts together. Typical verbs for this level include describe, compare and contrast. The application level puts two or more concepts together to form something new. Typical verbs at this level include explain, apply, and analyze (Vogler, 1991). The affective domain is defined through Blooms as being based upon aspects of behavior. The three levels in the domain are awareness, distinction, and integration. The verbs for this domain are limited to words
like display, exhibit, and accept. The first two levels are cognitive; integration is behavioral and requires the learner to evaluate and synthesize (Vogler, 1991). The psychomotor domain of Bloom’s Taxonomy is skill oriented. The student produces products. The three practical instructional levels include imitation, practice, and habit. The psychomotor domain is based on a demonstration delivery and the first level, imitation, will be a return of the demonstration. The practice level will be a proficiency building experience that may be conducted by the student without direct supervision. The habit level is reached when the student can perform the skill in twice the time that it takes an expert to perform (Bloom,1956). Learning Styles Teaching individuals through their learning-style strengths improves their achievement, self-esteem, and attitudes toward learning (Dunn & Dunn, 1999). Children learn in different ways and should be taught in the method that is conducive to their learning style. These learning styles involve four modalities: auditory, visual, tactual and kinesthetic. Children who are auditory learners find it easy to learn by listening. They enjoy dialogues, discussions, and plays. They often do well working out solutions or problems by talking them out. They are easily distracted by
noise and often need to work where it is relatively quiet. Students often do best using recorded books (Learning, 2000). Often information written down will have little meaning to the auditory learner until it has been heard - it may help auditory learners to read written information out loud. Visual learners make up around 65% of the population (Learning Styles, 2000). Students who have visual strength or preference like the teacher to provide demonstrations. They find it easy to learn through descriptions. They often use lists to keep up and to organize thoughts. They often recognize words by sight. They often have well developed imaginations. Visual learners relate most effectively to written information, notes, diagrams and pictures. Typically they will be unhappy with a presentation where they are unable to take detailed notes - to an extent information does not exist for a visual learner unless it has been seen written down. This is why some visual learners will take notes even when they have printed course notes on the desk in front of them (Dunn & Dunn,1999). Tactile learners are students who have an tactual strength or preference often do best when they take notes either during a lecture or when reading something new or difficult. They often like to draw or doodle to remember. They do well with hands-on such as projects, demonstrations, or labs (Learning Styles, 2000).
Kinesthetic learners make up around 5% of the population (Learning Styles, 1996). Kinesthetic learners are students who have a kinesthetic strength or preference often do best when they are involved or active. These students often have high energy levels. They think and learn best while moving. They often loose much of what is said during lecture and have problems concentrating when asked to sit and read. These students prefer to do rather than watch or listen. Kinesthetic Learners learn effectively through touch and movement and space, and learn skills by imitation and practice. Predominantly kinesthetic learners can appear slow, in that information is normally not presented in a style that suits their learning methods. Curriculum Design Curriculum development is an issue facing many school districts. The accountability issue along with the need for standard implementation has caused districts to feel an urgency to design a curriculum which is assessment driven. Many educators and advisory groups emphasize high standards as an important factor in improving the quality of education for all students. As a result, schools and districts are looking at ways to develop a high-quality curriculum that is based on standards (Pattison & Berkas, 2000).
"The standards-based movement in America is on solid footing and is slowly but surely changing the way we think of teaching and learning in America's classrooms," states the American Federation of Teachers (1999). "Nearly three-fourths of the teachers who have worked with standards for at least six years say the standards have had a positive impact on their schools." (p. 12). Ravitch (1995) adds, "Standards can improve achievement by clearly defining what is to be taught and what kind of performance is expected" (p. 25). Many efforts to improve education begin with the process of integrating standards into the curriculum. "The idea behind standards-based reform is to set clear standards for what we want students to learn and to use those academic standards to drive other changes in the system," notes the American Federation of Teachers (1999). Standard-based curriculum development includes not only curriculum but it includes instruction, and assessment but also professional development, parent and community involvement, instructional leadership, and the use of technology and other resources. Curriculum development is a continual process.
Behavior Management Management of student behavior is a major concern of teachers because of its importance in establishing a successful learning environment. Creating the opportunity to learn and develop both academic and behavioral skills is essential to an effective classroom. The overall purpose of behavior management is to aid students in displaying behaviors conducive to learning (Instructional Resources, 2000). Behavior management is a process that involves strategies that assist in managing students and promoting positive behavior. There are six principles that should be considered in the process of creating a successful learning environment: Negative consequences sometimes change behavior, but they do not change attitude. Only positive reinforcement strategies produce long-term attitudinal change. Negative consequences do not improve the behavior of impulsive children and frequently increase the frequency and intensity of misbehavior. Cognitive control of behavior can be learned through the use of appropriate positive reinforcement systems.
Positive reinforcement systems must be incremental in nature such that the child can directly observe even small improvements in behavior. You must always reinforce the final compliance with adult authority no matter how long it takes to get there (Walker, 1997). Behavior is a concern for educators because it is related to effective learning from both the student's and teacher's perspective. When a classroom is free of behavior disruptions, students can use classroom time for effective learning. A successful learning environment is the ultimate goal of all school districts. Certain factors should be considered in the quest for this ultimate goal. Individual learning styles, curriculum aligned with academic standards and maintaining effective behavior management are factors that should be used in the analysis of successful learning environments.
Definitions: • Learning Style: the composite of characteristic cognitive, affective, and physiological factors that serve as relatively stable indicators of
how a learner perceives, interacts with, and responds to the learning environment (Keefe, 1979). • Cognitive domain: the acquisition of knowledge (Bloom, 1956). • Affective domain: based upon aspects of behavior (Bloom, 1956). • Psychomotor domain: based upon skill acquisition (Bloom, 1956). • Standards-based reform: is to set clear standards for what we want students to learn and to use those academic standards to drive other changes in the system (AFT, 1999). • Behavior management: the process that involves strategies that assist in managing students and promoting positive behavior (Walker, 1997).
Links Learning Styles and Domains: Applying What We Know Student Learning Styles:
http://www.csrnet.org/csrnet/articles/student-learning-styles.html Learning Styles: Nurturing the genius in each child: http://www.geocities.com/~educationplace/ls.html How Your Learning Style Affects Your Use of Mnemonics: http://www.mindtools.com/mnemlsty.html Curriculum Design: Critical Issue: Integrating Standards into the Curriculum http://www.ncrel.org/sdrs/areas/issues/content/currclum/cu300.htm What a Curriculum Should Contain: http://www.ils.nwu.edu/e-for-e/nodes/NODE-72-pg.html Behavior Management: Behavior Articles: http://cpt.fsu.edu/tree/behavior.html Six Principles of Behavior Management: http://www.wm.edu/TTAC/articles/challenging/six.htm Behavior Management: http://www.para.unl.edu/para/Behavior/Intro.html
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