Learning Styles & the Perfect Teacher

As we embark on this “Midterm” week, I am faced with students who are performing well, who could perform better, and who are currently under performing. At this point in the semester, I tend to evaluate my students grades, my performance in the classroom, and any other factors that might be helpful or hinder the process. I have come up with two lessons I have learned from this time of reflection.

Lesson 1: Learning styles and the maturity of the student.

I believe it is important to understand and teach to a variety of learning styles. I find that some students with hate group work while others believe it is the only way they truly learn. I am ok with that and I teach using a variety of different methods in my courses. However, I have encountered a new dynamic in teaching…Teaching students how to mature intellectually in their junior and senior year of college. I find that many students get stuck in the “Dualism” stage and never mature past memorizing facts, taking notes, and “studying for the test”.

Learning styles are a great way to start evaluating your teaching, but the bigger question is … is your teaching style maturing your students’ learning on the comprehension and critical thinking levels.

This is a struggle for me right now, because it seems that my students are fighting my attempts to help mature them in learning the material on a deeper level. Give them a multiple choice question and they can answer it. Give them the same question in a short essay response… they freeze up and don’t know how to express their “memorized” knowledge using a real life example. They experience a disconnect from the knowledge/comprehension level to application level.

I know this is “growing” pains. I know it is part of the process.  I know I can continue to do more essay practice questions & open discussion. It’s a painful process at this point in the semester (for me and for them).  But this is what I believe is important for them.

Blooms Taxonomy of Cognitive Levels would say that my F’s are at the knowledge stage, C’s & D’s are at the Comprehension stage, and the A’s and B’s are at the Application stage.

Lesson 2: The perfect teacher syndrome

It is imperative that we focus on meeting the needs of our students. I believe that we can learn from each interaction within each course and develop teaching strategies specific to the class. However, I do not believe that we can become the perfect teacher for every student. For example, I have done several group discussion activities. Half the class loves it and the other half is irritated at this type of learning process. I change it up the next time and another (different type) of complaint is given. You cant please everyone, but I do believe that you can be aware and evaluate each situation.

I have reflected on what qualities that help me be a better teacher, or those qualities I admire in other people. I believe a level of each of these attributes are needed to be the ideal teacher.

  • Maturity is needed as a teacher to endure the ebbs and flows of the classroom.
  • Humility is needed to be willing to change or accept something is not working.
  • Caring is needed in order to want to meet student needs.
  • Effort is needed to try new assignments.
  • Passion is needed to stay interested in what you are teaching.
  • Patience is needed to give any change an opportunity to be effective.
  • Confidence is needed to be an effective leader.
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Laci McRee

Assistant Professor of Kinesiology at East Texas Baptist University

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One thought on “Learning Styles & the Perfect Teacher

  1. I agree completely with what you say, especially with the nicely chosen traits at the end. I taught English at Howard Payne Univ. in Brownwood for 26 years, and now I am teaching in my first year at a different college, in a city where I relocated to be closer to my aging parents. I would say that my midterm grade distributions are pretty much like yours–the lowest grades have gone to those with the most basic understanding. My new school, however, seems to have a much higher number of students in comp who seem to make no effort at all. I have never encountered so many students who simply do not turn in required papers. It’s a bind that worries me–how to try to get these people to work without being unfair to the others who have met deadlines–and all the while wondering if a high number of failing grades will stigmatize me as a new teacher. I have always thought as a teacher that I can work with and get some kind of good result from a student who doesn’t necessarily meet me halfway but who still makes some kind of genuine effort, but this semester is showing me how stressful it is when no effort seems to be there. I partly blame myself since I keep thinking that if I made the right comment or reworked the assignment just right, the effort might then be there, but then I also think that even Socrates would need some attention and effort from the person on the other side of the desk for a good result to come about. I enjoyed your post and the ideas it raises.

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