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Teacher Development & Awareness of Learning Styles
by Marjorie Rosenberg
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Mind Organization in the Classroom

The second model we investigated dealt with the taking in of information and its subsequent organization by the learner. Based on a questionnaire researched and created by April Bowie of the Learning Styles Institute, Seattle, Washington, we examined four types of learners. By filling out the questionnaire, working on various questions designed to highlight the differences exhibited by the four learning styles and in discussion of the characteristics of the four types followed by learning and teaching tips, the students had the opportunity to first discover their own learning style preferences and to find out how to work with learners of other styles. Ms. Bowie's model deals with learners she calls "Power Planners" who like to organize everything very carefully. They need structure and plans and are stressed when they encounter chaos. They generally need to work in a neat atmosphere and like to keep their work space tidy. The second type of learner is called "The Expert Investigator". This learner enjoys research and needs background information and facts when learning new material. They need a certain amount of structure, but also more time to complete assignments because the generally want their work to be as perfect as possible. The third learning style is the "Flexible Friend." These learners need contact with other people. They learn best from teachers they like. They like to work in groups, but it is vitally important to them that they feel comfortable in the group. The fourth style is the "Radical Reformer." These learners need a challenge. They take risks and dislike routines. They are happiest in a fast-paced classroom with a great deal of variety.

This model was totally new to all the students at the teacher training college and perhaps for that reason had a great impact on all of them. Realizing that they had unique qualities and that in some cases, they had comrades who were very much like them was in some cases a relief to those who had gone through school thinking that there was something wrong with them. They discovered for themselves that teachers must accept and work with all learner types, not just the learners who are the same type as the teacher. This became clear for these learners for the first time and created enormous enthusiasm for the model and its implications.

As students said in their reflection papers,

"Regarding the Mind Organization model, I am a "Power Planner". This part of the course was even more interesting for me because it really opened my eyes about myself! It's so true and feels so right for me. I always wrote everything down that I needed to do and I thought it was a type of obsession, but now I know that it is normal for a Power Planner to do this. And imagine: There are other people like me! I also can't work without exact instructions and I go crazy if I don't know what I have to do. If I have too much to do on one day and can't finish my work, I am extremely unhappy. I also know that I can be bossy and stubborn and the survey underlined my need to be a perfectionist. These things aren't taught in school which is too bad. It would open many people's eyes and help pupils to learn better and more efficiently. I know that taking this survey helped me to discover that I am not as "alien" as I thought I was. Doing my homework on the day I receive it, doing extra work and enjoying it is simply part of my learning style. I also understand now why I need to find the usefulness in the homework I am given. It also pointed out the areas which are not as strong for me and now I know exactly what to work on for myself." (Dagmar Esther Gumhold)

"I found out that I am a "Flexible Friend". I need many people around me. I am a people person. I try to understand what my friends are feeling because this is important for me. Sometimes it is difficult for me to cope with my sensitivity because if I am criticized unfairly I am very upset. I also try to have friendly relationships with people around me but it is difficult for me to speak to people I don't like as I always want to be on friendly terms with others. I also discovered that my second style is "Power Planner" which explains to me why I hate it when my room is a mess. I need to have everything in the right place. I also need exact instructions and have to work step-by-step so that I know what I need to do next." (Irmgard Göritzer)

"I am an 'Expert Investigator". The Expert Investigator" learning type is very logical, sensible, objective and enjoys research. When I learn, I make sure that I have all the information I need in order to complete a task or activity. I must be sure that I know exactly what is expected of me and how I am expected to do it. When I learn at home, I make sure that I have enough time to complete my assignments in a quiet place without interruptions. When I am very stressed at school, I practice working at home with time limits. Then I can learn to use my time in class more effectively." (Petra Suppanz)

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