Practical Approaches to Using Learning Styles in Higher Education

By Rita Dunn; Shirley A. Griggs | Go to book overview
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Chapter 4

Educating Secondary Teachers to Work with Students’ Diverse Styles

Nancy Montgomery

This description of how global and tactual students might follow directions for assembling some new gadget makes my skin crawl:

They merely empty the box, let every piece fall where it may, and then proceed to pick up each interesting part, one by one—and sometimes several at a time—and push, pull, jab, alter, cajole, threaten, and eventually make each piece fit somewhere. When they are finished, leftover parts may still be lying on the floor or on the table, but the ‘‘mechanic’’ views them as not really necessary because the gadget works without them. (Dunn & Dunn, 1993, p. 102)

Rita and Kenneth Dunn proceed to explain that whatever strategies are used to put together anything new that comes with parts, all adults generally ‘‘will get the job done. How they do it depends on their processing style and perceptual strengths’’ (p. 402). Over 500 research studies at more than 115 universities confirm the reliability and validity of the Learning-Style Model (Research on the Dunn & Dunn Model, 1999). As strong a believer as I am in the authority of expert opinion, I still need to repeat these findings over and over to myself. It is difficult to understand how some people could live with leftover parts and how, for global processors, this simultaneous rather than sequential approach to solving a problem or completing a task is not only all right (p. 410), but also necessary—in fact, the only way they can do it!

I am one of the prototypical analytic/visual and auditory learners. Although it was 30 years ago, I still remember with amazement how my sister could claim to have ‘‘read’’ a 600-page novel and not recall the names of

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