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Seventy-five percent (75%) of all students in learning support are boys with eighty percent (80%) of boys being referred to the office for discipline

Seventy-five percent (75%) of all students in learning support are boys with eighty percent (80%) of boys being referred to the office for discipline

June 06, 2011 Dr. Derek Tully

Seventy-five percent (75%) of all students in learning support are boys with eighty percent (80%) of boys being referred to the office for discipline. Given that research conclusively demonstrates that boys are not auditory learners (learning by listening), teaching them the way they do learn is central to student success. Because these boys are not taught according to their individual learning style, they tend to fidget by being made to sit for too long and they become disruptive when they are unable to engage their whole body in learning activities. The end result is that when there is a lack of individualized student learning, boys routinely end up being sent to the office for disciplinary action. There is a rather simple solution; boys will succeed in school when taught according to their individual learning strengths.

Research shows that every person has a learning style, regardless of IQ, achievement level or socioeconomic status. Some learning-style elements are biologically imposed and others are developmental. If education is going to succeed for all, leaving the "one size does not fit all" at the entrance to the learning space, whether that space is a classroom, a garden or a hands-on workshop, reshaping the landscape of teaching strategies for these boys will lead to increased motivation to learn and improved achievement.

In July 1609, an English ship on its way to the Colony of Virginia was shipwrecked on Bermuda's reefs. The survivors built a rescue vessel, which left Bermuda in 1610. Four hundred years later in Bermuda, a group of 8th graders using a learning-styles approach researched the mystery ship and constructed a five-foot model named Patience. The outcome was so impressive that the students won a National Award in Bermuda and "sailed" the vessel onto the pages of the prestigious Junior version of National Geographic Magazine.

The boys involved in the project were challenged with traditional "chalk 'n' talk" lessons. Consequently, the students repeatedly were referred to the office for discipline matters. The project at Clearwater Middle School integrated math, technology and ELA lessons into both the research and building of the five-foot model, Patience. The boys often chose to remain after school to work on Patience and even volunteered to come in on weekends. The boys learned math through the measurement and fashioning of ribs, timbers, and masts of the model. They measured angles and semi circles and the boys constructed their own scale diagrams. One boy wrote a story which appeared in the School's Young Observer section of Bermuda's daily newspaper, the Royal Gazette.

The girls however were not left out! Using a global learning-styles approach to Family Studies in addition to traditional curriculum, the girls studied 17th century diet, recipes and dishes. The girls made 17th century costumes in sewing class and were part of the 400th Anniversary Celebrations, which took place in Bermuda in May 2010.

Using a learning-styles approach to lessons in addition to traditional curriculum makes learning fun, enjoyable, motivating and so much more attractive to learners of all ages. In the case of the Patience project, middle-school students excelled.

Patience now sits in the St. George, Bermuda Town Hall

Dr. Derek Tully, Deputy Principal
Director, Center for the Study of Learning and Teaching Styles, Clearwater Middle School
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References:

Dunn. R. (1987, Spring). Research on instructional environments: Implications for student achievement and attitudes. Professional School Psychology, 2 (1), 43-52

Dunn. R. (1990b, October). Rita Dunn answers questions on learning styles. Educational Leadership, 48(15), 15-19. Alexandria, VA: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development.

Dunn. R. (1990e, Winter) Teaching underachievers through their learning style strengths. International Education, 16(52), 5-7, New Wilmington, PA: Association for the Advancement of International Education.

Dunn. R. (1991b). Hands on approaches to learning styles: A practical guide for successful schooling. New Wilmington, PA: Association for the Advancement of International Education.

Dunn. R. (1993f, September). Teaching the..."I don't like school and you can't make me like it" learner International Education., 20(65), 4-5

Dunn. R ., Beaudry, J. A., & Klavas, A. (1989). Survey of research on learning styles. Educational Leadership, 46(6), 50-58