EDUCATORS have been quick to classify students who require special attention with a variety of negative labels - Learning Disabled (LD), Emotionally Handicapped (EH), Emotionally Disturbed (ED), Educationally Disadvantaged (ED), Educable Mentally Retarded (EMR), and so forth.
Even positive nomenclatures, like Special Education (SPED) or Gifted Education (GE), have taken on a negative aura because children categorized as such differ in the amount of attention they require from teachers.
When examining why these youngsters require more attention, it becomes evident that they do not learn like their classmates do. The majority of SPED students are global processors with tactual and kinesthetic-perceptual strengths (Kyriacou & Dunn, 1994).
LEARNING STYLES OF SPED STUDENTS
Early correlational research examined the learning styles of LD students, compared them with those of EMR students and the gifted and found significant differences between those groups.
Later, researchers synthesized the differences between SPED and Regular Ed (REGED) students and contrasted the styles among various SPED classifications. In addition, there were also reported findings on the learning styles of reading-disabled youngsters.
However, even after extensive differences in learning style had been widely documented, it was reported that SPED teachers, who had not been taught to use learning-style approaches in the teacher education programs they attended, resisted using them.
Despite the negativism associated with children who learn differently from their same aged counterparts, practitioners have documented that many officially classified LD, EH, and SPED students significantly improved their achievement after they were taught with approaches and resources that complemented their learning styles.
For example, after only two years of learning-style-based instruction, SPED students in a certain school achieved statistically higher standardized achievement test scores than their counterparts who had not experienced learning-style-responsive teaching.
Some achieved as well as the regular high school students.
According to the research, the Dunn and Dunn Learning-Style Model contributed to statistically higher standardized achievement test scores for SPED students across the nation during the 20-year period (1970-1990) covered by its investigations. …