Multiculturalism and Learning Style: Teaching and Counseling Adolescents

Multiculturalism and Learning Style: Teaching and Counseling Adolescents

Multiculturalism and Learning Style: Teaching and Counseling Adolescents

Multiculturalism and Learning Style: Teaching and Counseling Adolescents

Synopsis

This text synthesizes the research on the learning style characteristics of five culturally diverse groups: Native Americans, Hispanic Americans, African Americans, Asian Americans, and European Americans. Although each of these groups has distinguishing features and differs from other groups on some of the 22 elements that constitute learning style, there are broad within-group variations that preclude generalizations. Dunn and Griggs identify a multidimensional model of learning style, describe a comprehensive assessment instrument for identifying an individual's learning style, and provide a variety of educational interventions that accommodate diverse learning style preferences.

Excerpt

In recent years, the costs and consequences of the high number of at- risk and dropout minority students in the United States and throughout the world have been major concerns of educators and parents. They are also concerns of governments and communities faced with exorbitant welfare and crime rates.

Analyses of the learning styles of many at-risk and dropout students have revealed that such students learn in a processing style and with instructional strategies that differ significantly from those of adolescents who tend to perform well in conventional schools (Dunn &Dunn, 1992, 1993; Dunn &Griggs, 1988b; Dunn,Dunn, &Perrin, 1994). In addition, dropouts are more likely to be African Americans, Native Americans, and Hispanics than whites or Asian Americans (Paulu, 1987), and they are overrepresented in vocational and general tracks and in special education (Oakes, 1985). Indeed, the high rate of underachievement among minorities prompted suggestions that teachers should "teach to the learning styles of black children" (Hale-Benson, 1982, p. 196).

Allegations that minorities may learn differently from majority Caucasians led to the establishment of a New York State Board of Regents panel to investigate that concept (D'Antonio, 1988). Ultimately, that panel of representatives from diverse disciplines reported that no evidence supported the controversial theory that African Americans shared distinctly different learning styles from those of Caucasians (Gordon, 1988). The panel's conclusions, however, were based solely on examination of a limited number of published studies at that time, selected articles, and personal testimony. Its budget permitted the panel of a dozen authorities to meet for a total of only two full days.

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