Different Strokes for Different Folks: Connecting with Students for Academic Success

By Gilbert, Michael | International Journal of Education, October 1, 2014 | Go to article overview

Different Strokes for Different Folks: Connecting with Students for Academic Success


Gilbert, Michael, International Journal of Education


Abstract

Schools are challenged to provide meaningful learning experiences to prepare students for immediate and long-term success. The controversial Common Core is an attempt to institute a national curriculum in the United States to align with other countries.

Regardless of the approach, academic content is an important starting point for schools. Varying delivery methods are the companions to connecting with students for successful learning experiences. This article addresses how teachers might consider personality aspects in delivering curricula effectively. The methodology of doing so is explained by examining the Process Education Model, its components and implications. Also included are outcomes of several research and application projects.

Keywords: Effective communication, Instructional delivery, Perceptions, Motivation, Classroom interaction

1. Introduction

The issues of how to prepare students to compete in a global economy are primary in education today. The "Common Core" is one possible approach for education in the United States. It was the adopted curriculum in 45 states. It is the closest the U. S. has come to a national curriculum, unlike most countries the world, where there is a national educational policy. However, issues regarding how to measure the results have spawned some crucial questions (Altman, 2014). While the "jury is still out" on the Common Core, the focus on delivering a meaningful curriculum remains. A formula to consider for academic success might be:

Content + Process = Academic Success

Traditional approaches to instructional delivery may no longer be effective.

"OK! Today, yon are going to be working by yourselves. If you have any questions, raise your hands, and I will come to you. "

This scenario has been seen in classrooms all over the U. S. It demands that students conform to the way that the teacher wants them to behave. However, not every student is comfortable with static or limited delivery methods or constraining rules. We have learned that students have differing learning styles and ways of processing information (Gregore, 1982; Kolb; 1984; McCarthy, 1980). Preference of intake modes (auditory, visual, and kinesthetic) (Barbe & Swassing, 1979) and access to different abilities (analytical, creative, and practical) (Sternberg, et ah, 1999) are other considerations for looking at student learning. Also, students may be more adept with some learning styles or focal areas, or "intelligences" (Gardner, 1983).

Classroom structure and limited instructional delivery may be problems in dealing with students who bring home-life baggage to school. They see their "success" as their ability to "shut up and listen to the teacher" (Knaus, 2013, p. 16).

Personality characteristics (Myers & Briggs, 1943, 1976, 1985; Noland, 1978) may also factor into classroom interactions. Most of these models attempt to depict an individual with regard to one or several aspects of personality and suggest that the individual functions in life and in learning situations with the manifestations of those characterizations.

Kahler (2008), extended his doctoral research on Miniscripts (Kahler, 1973) and described the six personality types of his Process Communication Model (PCM): Harmonizers, Thinkers, Persisters, Imaginers, Rebels, and Promoters. (These are the current descriptors.) None is better or worse, more or less OK, more or less intelligent. He likened personality structure to a six-story condominium, where the first floor represents our foundation, or base - strongest personality type - and where each remaining floor represents the other personality types in order of the strength of each. This generated order of personality types is firmly established about age seven, and the ability to move to the different "floors" of our personality is measurable and predictable. Each personality type has a different set of needs, perceptions, and behaviors that influences how we learn and how we teach. …

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