Individual Learning Styles and Unique Learning Needs of Diverse Learners
There is a variety of ways to determine the specific learning styles of students. For instance, a teacher may focus on the type of data that the learners accept in the fastest and most efficient way. Alternatively, the way in which the learner prefers to behave in the academic environment (e.g., active participation, reflection, etc.) can be used. However, in a diverse environment, the choice of the assessment tool depends largely on the unique characteristics of the target population and their background. Thus, their learning needs can be identified accurately and met accordingly.
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Tools for Assessing Learning Styles Appropriate for Inclusion in a Health Assessment Course
As long as a teacher is aware of the environment in which a learner can fulfill their potential to the fullest, rapid academic progress is guaranteed. For this purpose, it is crucial to realize in what way the essential data should be represented to the target audience. With the adoption of specific assessment tools for different groups, an educator will be able to design the program that will allow meeting their needs completely.
In order to determine the way in which international students can acquire, process, transfer, and use the required information, one will have to apply the VARK tool. The test helps the teacher to determine what type of information must be provided based on which ability – either visual, or aural, or read/write, or kinesthetic – the student has developed best (Stirling, 2017). Thus, learners will develop the necessary health literacy skills fast and efficiently. Similarly, the VARK tool can be suggested to identify the needs of physically challenged learners since it will shed light on the basic physical needs that the target population has.
When considering the tool that will allow determining the preferred learning style of adults, a teacher must keep in mind that the specified population prefers to be independent in their learning (Fang & Zhao, 2013). Therefore, it is necessary to use the tool that will inform not only educators but also learners. Particularly, the Index of Learning Styles by Richard Felder and Barbara Soloman must be considered as an opportunity. The framework provides the foundation for evaluating the learning style based on four key aspects: “active/reflective, sensing/intuitive, visual/verbal, and sequential/global)” (Fang & Zhao, 2013, p. 1). Consequently, the tool will help understand the significance of health literacy and the acquisition of relevant skills.
To evaluate the learning styles of multicultural students, one should use a combination of the VARK framework and the Honey and Mumford Learning Styles Questionnaire (LSQ) as the basis for evaluation. Thus, the teacher will find out whether the student tends to use reflection, abstract conceptualization, concrete experience, or active experimentation as the basis for their academic development (Manolis, Burns, Assudani, & Chinta, 2013).
For at-risk learners, the self-assessment based on the Kolb Learning Style Inventory (KLSI) is advised. Thus, the learners will be able to develop a responsible attitude toward the acquisition of essential health literacy skills (Sadik & Rojas, 2014). Alternatively, the VARK test can be used as the extension of KLSI can be suggested.
The task of learning styles assessment becomes more complicated once nontraditional students are viewed as the target demographic. Seeing that a wide variety of learners from students with disabilities to ethnic minorities fall under the specified category, one will have to consider using the general framework that will, later on, become the foundation for designing a more accurate assessment device. The VARK tool is suggested as the basic framework so that the appropriate set of strategies for teaching efficiently could be determined.
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Individual Learning Styles and Unique Learning Needs Assessment (with Health Literacy Considerations)
Both international and multicultural learners need a deep understanding of the difference between their culture and the health standards that are currently accepted as essential on the global level (e.g., by WHO and similar organizations) (Stirling, 2017).
When considering the needs of learners with disabilities, one must bear in mind that the information-related ones are the primary source of concern. Therefore, it is imperative to provide the target population with an opportunity to access the relevant data whenever needed. In other words, the active use of IT devices should be viewed as essential (Knibbe, Biddiss, Gladstone, & McPherson, 2016).
At-risk learners, in their turn, need to be encouraged actively so that they could feel motivated. Furthermore, it is essential not to remind them of their past negative performance or behavior; otherwise, the students will feel discouraged and unwilling to accept new health-related knowledge and skills (Sadik & Rojas, 2014).
Adults require that the teacher should recognize their independence. Furthermore, flexibility is required to make sure that the target demographic can include learning in their busy schedule (Muscat et al., 2016). To enhance the process of knowledge and skills acquisition among physically challenged students, a teacher must encourage the learners not to focus on their limitations and, instead, embrace the available opportunities. Finally, nontraditional learners have to be supported throughout the course and be provided with the available resources. The combination of the approaches above may need to be considered in case the target population can be linked to one or more of the groups mentioned earlier (Manolis, et al., 2013).
Fang, N., & Zhao, X. (2013). A comparative study of learning style preferences between American and Chinese undergraduate engineering students. Oklahoma City, OK: Frontiers in Education.
Knibbe, T. J., Biddiss, E., Gladstone, B., & McPherson, A. C. (2016). Characterizing socially supportive environments relating to physical activity participation for young people with physical disabilities. Developmental Neurorehabilitation, 1(1), 1-7.
Manolis, C., Burns, D. J., Assudani, R., & Chinta, R. (2013). Learning and individual differences. Learning and individual differences, 23(1), 44–52.
Muscat, D. M., Smith, S., Dhillon, H. M., Morony, S., Davis, E. L., Luxford, K.,… McCaffery, K. (2016). Incorporating health literacy in education for socially disadvantaged adults: An Australian feasibility study. International Journal for Equity in Health, 15(1), 84-93.
Sadik, A., & Rojas, L. (2014). How to identify at-risk medical students based on learning style, personality indicator, and learning strategy tests: A mixed method for a pilot study. Medical Science Educator, 24(1), 111-115.
Stirling, B. V. (2017). Using VARK to assess Saudi nursing students’ learning style preferences: Do they differ from other health professionals? Journal of Taibah University Medical Sciences, 12(2), 125-130.