Learning Styles Research: What Really Works A Review of Differentiating Instruction for At-Risk Students: What to Do and How to Do It

By Cohan, Audrey | Delta Kappa Gamma Bulletin, Winter 2011 | Go to article overview

Learning Styles Research: What Really Works A Review of Differentiating Instruction for At-Risk Students: What to Do and How to Do It


Cohan, Audrey, Delta Kappa Gamma Bulletin


Learning Styles Research: What Really Works A Review of Differentiating Instruction for At- Risk Students: What to Do and How to Do It Dunn, R., & Honigsfeld, A. (2009). Differentiating instruction for at-risk students: What to do and how to do it. Lanham, MD: Rowman and LittlefiekL

To meet the needs of all learners, while improving student achievement, educators are encouraged to differentiate instruction. It is not uncommon to hear teachers comment that it is nearly impossible to use a differentiated approach on a daily basis due to time constraints, Rita Dunn and Andrea Honigs feld's book, Differentiating Instruction for At-Risk Students: What to Do and How to Do It, offers hands-on strategies for teaching the struggling student, Dunn and Honigsfeld's methods are grounded in the following definition of learning style:"the way in which each student begins to concentrate on, process, internalize, and remember new and difficult academic information" (p, 11),

Teacher-friendly and visually appealing, the book offers scenarios, clear descriptions, and potential plans of action for working with diverse learners, At the beginning, the authors clearly identify which students are typically at risk and describe 21st century students as having significant, yet somewhat different, needs than students in the past. With an understanding that students of today possess a wide range of academic strengths and weaknesses , the authors outline suggestions for integrating learning- style-responsive approaches in meeting the needs of at-risk students.

The strength of this book lies in the knowledge base that the authors share about understanding that students possess different ways of learning, often referred to as perceptual preferences, and may use them to improve academic achievement. For instance, knowing the differences and similarities between analytic and global learners can help to reshape the thinking, and ultimately the teaching approaches, of educators. The authors organize the instructional activities around perceptual differences and individual needs, rather than focusing on one technique or strategy standardization.

The book is divided into 13 chapters with supportive appendices, In addition, the authors include a list of outstanding references that support the research base for learning styles. The programmed learning sequences are illustrated within Chapter 9 and exemplify the use of games as structured materials in which learning can occur in small increments. This games-based teaching approach most definitely benefits the at-risk child as well as the student with special needs or the English-language learner, Robin A, Boyle wrote the 13th chapter in an effort to help readers understand the relationship between learning styles theory and the individualized education plan (IEP), With a concern for the high-stakes testing movement in the United States, she comments, "Despite the rise in concern over standardized test scores, parents, students, and educators should strive to include within their IEPs a working definition of learning styles" (p, 153-154), In this chapter, Boyle provides a unique and helpful legal perspective to the definition of learning styles for atrisk students. …

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