Thursday, February 17, 2011

Using Learning Styles to Increase Effectiveness of AT

How do your students learn? Have you taken the time to analyze whether a student you are evaluating for AT is kinesthetic, auditory, tactile, visual, etc?
I was observing a student this week that has a cleft palette. He is a primary student learning phonics and sounding out words. As I watched the class drill sight words flashing on a screen, all reading out loud, this student had delayed response, listening to the class then trying to say the word. It didn't take long before he gave up and was looking around the room completely off task. Now I had sat with him all afternoon and saw that he was a hard worker and was able to focus and do good work - so he didn't have attention deficits. What I did see was a style of expressing mastery of a skill that was actually not his forte. In fact it was his main disability - pronunciation and expressive language. No wonder he gave up!
This prompted me to think about how I watched him learn skills and look at his learning style. After class I asked the teacher how he learns best, what his style of learning is. We discussed it and I challenged her to think of multiple modalities to express mastery and drill and practice. How will this student be able to be successful? If he can't say the word, is he missing a step in finalizing the process neurologically to build those neural pathways and connections? How can he " finalize the learning" in another modality so it seals the deal?
I would challenge you to look at learning styles, differentiated instruction, strategies for multiple intelligences, multi-sensory learning and apply AT that supports finalizing the learning so the concept becomes second nature.
Some resources can be explored at the CAST website where you can explore several self-paced modules that will help you think in this way.

All the best to you!

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T_Sommer said...

This is an excellent point! Sometimes we take AT for advantage, thinking that it will "fix" the student to learn better, but we have to take into account the WAYS in which the student learns.

Can't we apply this principle to all students to help them learn best?

adjenri said...

I think if the student can't say the word and struggles with expressive language then there should be other options offered for the student. For example, he could write down the answer, type up the answer, use an AAC device, or a communication board. The student should not be limited by his disability.