5200 SW Meadows Rd. Ste. 150 Lake Oswego, OR 97035 info@cmasas.org
(888) 832-9437 Student Login

Beyond Learning Styles with Tamra Excell

14 Apr

Beyond Learning Styles with Tamra Excell

Posted By: 
Kaitlyn Guay

Johnny has fifty-four apples and six friends. What would each friend get if he divided the apples evenly among them? Nine apples, you say? Interesting theory. The answer is actually a stomach ache. (Sorry, had to!) But that’s not the point of this exercise. The point is to ask you this: when you read the question, what was your process? Did you find you had to picture the apples? Did you wish you had fifty-four apples to physically sort? Did you repeat the question aloud? Your answer may reveal your learning style. Or, as Tamra Excell, co-founder of Christa McAuliffe School of Arts and Sciences would say, your learning needs and preferences.

Excell speaks on the importance of learning styles on her website, www.TamraExcell.com, including why she prefers to call them a learning need and/or preference instead of a “style.”

In her latest article entitled “Beyond Learning Styles: Preferences and Needs”, Excell explains,“Communication is important for learning, and word choice is important for communication. The phrase “learning styles” has been defined and applied in a variety of ways, making communication and research about learning styles problematic at best.”

This, Excell says, is why “Learning needs and preferences is better terminology than learning styles. Most can agree that a student who is blind is not likely to learn from visual means, and that a person who is Deaf will not likely learn through auditory means. They have learning needs that seem obvious, wouldn’t you agree? Where do we draw the line though? How about a student with a processing disorder confirmed with fMRI scans; would this be accepted evidence of a learning need? At what point do we draw the line between a need and what we would instead define as a preference? Or should we?

There’s value having students experience learning in a variety of ways, and even growing skills and strategies for different approaches and scenarios. Active reading strategies help with processing text. Note-taking practice to help process auditory information, or using technology such as recording and speech to text can also be a great tool to discover. Learning how to work independently is important. Learning how to work with others, or even to oversee a group in a project management capacity, can be valuable skills. Some students will be more capable of using certain learning approaches than others, both due to learning needs and preferences.

Why would preferences matter?

What it comes down to is this: emotions count. If you get a student who needs to be detoxed from previous experience, or who is coming to you from trauma or simply a poor self-image as a learner, having that student begin the learning process in ways most comfortable and manageable could be vital for that student to move toward a growth mindset. Some students don’t have bootstraps; and if they did, what happens when you try to lift yourself up by your own bootstraps? You fall. That’s the original meaning of this phrase.

Emotions impact motivation, as well as the ability to learn in the moment no matter how motivated. Affirmation, being seen or validated, and gaining a sense of self-awareness can lead to an empowered learner. A sense that success is possible – an increasing internal locus of control – and that one’s own unique strengths and traits are valuable, makes it easier to try. Starting with preferred ways of learning, experiencing success and building upon that foundation, can put the student in the position to stretch and try new things later. It’s part of a complete recipe for success.”

Read the entire article here!

*** 44% of middle and high school students don’t feel a sense of worth at school. That’s why on April 25th, educational researcher and co-founder of CMASAS Tamra Excell will be hosting a free webinar to help parents and students who are looking outside the box discover the world of personalized education. We’d be honored for you to join us for our webinar “Exploring School Options” on Tuesday, April 25th at 4pm PST/ 7pm EST! Through this webinar, you can expect to:

  • Discover the most important questions you need to ask first when considering your educational options
  • Explore what it really means to offer students a personalized education, and learn how to avoid bait-and-switch marketing tactics
  • Empower your child with the skills really needed to excel in our dynamic, modern world. Deciding which option to pursue once you’ve jumped out of the traditional schooling nest can be overwhelming, frustrating, and even a little bit scary. Whether you decide our school is a good fit for your child or not, we hope this webinar will hand you the tools you need to ensure the best education for your child’s needs.

To sign up and learn more, head over to: https://goo.gl/Wj4vQZ