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A Systematic Approach to Understanding Learning Styles in Students with Disabilities

Three People Holding Question MarkThe method in which people understand info and course of it in alternative ways has an impression on studying. The understanding that every particular person possess a singular set of organic and developmental traits that help their potential to study isn’t a brand new idea, nevertheless the way in which these wants are met academically can turn out to be a controversial matter. “Not everybody learns the same way — we all have our national preferences as to how we acquire and store the information that we learn”, so how do educators make it work for all college students, together with these with studying disabilities? (Learning types of youngsters, 2009).

Although the overall concept for the existence of particular person studying types has turn into a extensively accepted premise in trendy schooling, “there are a number of extensions and/or variations… particularly in relationship to the nature of the specific types of learning styles and how the elements are assessed” (Dunn et al., 2009). It is with these variations that the questions of why college students with numerous disabilities develop a choice in the direction of some studying types over others, is posed. By understanding why totally different college students develop preferences in the direction of totally different studying modalities, academics can develop curriculum packages that work with much less trial and error, and extra success.

Learning Styles Defined

Understanding a scholar’s choice for a selected study type is a sophisticated enterprise which frequently includes experimentation with numerous studying types in order to unfold which type will greatest serves the wants of a person scholar. There are numerous instruments which might be used in the sector of schooling to determine numerous varieties of studying choice together with these outlines by Gardner’s (1983) eight Multiple Intelligences. It was the assumption of Gardner that there are a number of kinds of intelligences that may exist and that identification of intelligence by way of IQ (Intelligence Quota) alone doesn’t successfully cater to the wants and skills of all learners.

Kolb presents one other mannequin based mostly on two choice dimensions theorizing that folks develop preferences for various studying types in the identical method that they develop another kind of type.

Why Learning Styles are Important for Students with Disabilities

Not everyone learns in the identical approach, all of us have pure preferences and tendencies as to how we purchase and retailer the knowledge. The cognitive improvement of scholars with disabilities is usually starkly totally different then that of scholars with out disabilities, nevertheless understanding the way it differs from conventional baby improvement is essential to understanding how studying fashion identification can help college students with disabilities. Why and the way does college students create lodging to account for disabilities and the way college students with comparable disabilities make comparable lodging are threads that may weave a greater understanding of how people study.

It is the argument of Christie (2000), that there’s a neurological rationalization for the event of particular studying types. Christie explores the mind in addition to neurological and psychological processes concerned in cognitive improvement and the way these cognitive processes can clarify the event of particular preferences in human studying.  

Christie explains that hemisphere dominance is usually demonstrated in studying and the event of varied expertise, for instance, expressive and receptive language, reasoning and sequencing are all discovered in the left hemisphere, whereas geometric determine identification, visible varieties and facial id are situated in the suitable hemisphere. What does this imply for college kids with disabilities? When wanting on the neurological results of particular disabilities, a relationship could also be discovered that college students with comparable disabilities may additionally have an identical hemisphere dominance which causes them to gravitate in the direction of studying types that accommodate for his or her specific incapacity.

A research on irregular mind improvement by Escalante-Mead, Minshew and Sweeney (2003) gives compelling proof for Christie’s argument.  This research found that disturbances in lateral choice in people with autism probably make clear mind maturational processes in this dysfunction. Individuals with autism and a historical past of early language disturbance confirmed extra atypical cerebral dominance than each wholesome individuals and people with autism who had regular early language expertise. The arguments by Christie (2000) in addition to Escalante-Mead, Minshew and Sweeney (2003) supply scientific reasoning and rationalization for the event of studying types. “A critical relationship between our students and learning in the classroom is association…In education it is absolutely imperative that we assist our students to draw associations from sensory input to neurological processing to expressive output” (Christie, 2000, p. 328).

Christie accounts for affiliation in college students with disabilities by suggesting that the mind dominance of scholars with disabilities could also be broken or in any other case effected and subsequently these college students should use a way of affiliation to overcome or over compensate for a incapacity. It is thru an evaluation of those works (Christie, 2000; Escalante-Mead, et. Al, (2003), that one can perceive the argument that studying fashion choice is a neurological phenomenon which may supply insist into how the mind is concerned in studying fashion choice improvement in people with disabilities.  

The compelling argument posed might supply incite into why college students with Autism are sometimes tactile learners. Does their incapacity and improvement supply a clue? Is it a cognitive adaptation?

Perhaps one of the convincing examples for the position of the mind in studying type improvement in college students with disabilities is in people with dyslexia.  A case research by Norris and Kershner (1996) gives further validity to the neurological understanding of studying type choice improvement in people with dyslexia.  This research assessed the neuropsychological validity of the modality choice (studying fashion) of people with dyslexia with relating to to studying. The concept that studying types are linked to the mind and that particular associations could be made to accommodate several types of studying is a sentiment that can also be shared by Christie (2000). According to the analysis in this research, college students who have been thought-about fluent readers rated their studying types to be extra strongly auditory and visible than youngsters with dyslexia. The authors of this research “assume that left-hemisphere engagement implicates a preference for auditory processing and that right-hemisphere engagement implicates a relatively greater preference for visual processing” (Norris & Kershner, 1996, p.234).  This analysis on dyslexia additional helps the concept by understanding what space of the mind is effected by a selected incapacity; academics can be higher in a position to decide a scholar’s studying type choice and higher help that youngster to study.

While the analysis accomplished by Norris and Kershner, Christie and Escalante-Mead, Minshew and Sweeney all use a neurological rationale to clarify why college students with comparable disabilities typically share a standard studying type choice, arguments have additionally been made outdoors the world of science as to why studying fashion choice coincides with particular incapacity varieties.  Heiman (2006) addresses the variations which exist amongst numerous college students on the college degree assessing the totally different studying types which develop in college students with and with out studying disabilities. The outcomes of this research discovered that college students with studying disabilities most popular to use extra stepwise processing, together with memorization and drilling apply. In addition, these college students reported a better want for self-regulation methods than their non-learning disabled friends.  

The presupposition that, college students with studying disabilities face educational difficulties which provoke using totally different studying types than college students with out studying disabilities is a standard problem that causes a standard lodging to develop in college students with disabilities is a compelling one.

Learning Styles for Students with Both Abilities and Disabilities

The line between those that are gifted and people who are disabled just isn’t all the time one that’s clear in the sector of schooling. Often these college students who’ve a incapacity which inhibits a number of areas of studying are in a position to uncover an space of giftedness as properly.  This giftedness in flip supplies them with a way of studying and understanding by way of a studying type choice that may be universally tailored into an schooling plan resembling an Individual Education Plan (IEP).

The work of Reis, Schader, Miline and Stephens (2003) explores how college students with Williams Syndrome have used music as a way of studying improvement. This concept of instructional packages that target “remediating their deficits” is a daring one which has the potential to unlock hidden potentials for a lot of college students. The authors pose the thought of utilizing studying type choice to unlock these college students’ potential slightly than utilizing a program that works to handle what are seen as deficits.

The thought frightening knowledge supplies help for the thought for studying types as a way of aiding college students to study, in addition to the argument that particular disabilities typically promote the event of widespread and particular studying fashion preferences.


The advantage of unlocking why particular studying type preferences exists is in the power of educators to discover a curriculum that works for college kids with disabilities utilizing fewer trials and errors, and subsequently minimizing the frustration of failure. “According to Dunn (1983) learning style assessment enables educators to avoid the ‘hit or miss’ approach in determining which instructional techniques are appropriate for each student” (Yong & McIntyre, p. 124, 1992).

The developmental nature of how and why particular studying types develop in college students with disabilities is critical for the way forward for schooling of scholars with disabilities. This information may also help researchers and educators to develop plans and curriculums which are designed to extra successfully meet the wants of varied learners. With this info it turns into attainable to develop work packages that use studying modalities for job coaching packages for people with alternative ways of studying.  This info will help college students with disabilities turn out to be extra built-in into their very own communities and turn into an important a part of our society. The query that wants probing after figuring out how and why studying types develop is; how can this info prolong previous the classroom and into the world outdoors faculty?


Christie, S. (2000). The mind: Utilizing multi-sensory approaches for particular person studying types. Education, 121(2), 327-330.

Dunn, R., Honigsfeld, A., Shea-Doolan, L., Bostrom, L., Russo, Okay., Schiering, M., Suh, B., Tenedero, H. (January/February 2009).  Impact of learning-style educational methods on college students’ achievement and attitudes: Perceptions of educators in numerous establishments. The Clearing House 82(three), p. 135. doi: 10.3200/TCHS.82.three.135-140

Escalante-Mead, P., Minshew N., & Sweeney, J. (2003). Abnormal mind lateralization in high-functioning autism. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 33(5), 539-543. doi: 10.1023/A:1025887713788

Heiman, T. (2006). Assessing studying types amongst college students with and with out

studying disabilities at a distance-learning college. Learning Disability

Quarterly, 29(Winter), 55-63.

Kolb, D. (1984) Experiential Learning: expertise because the supply of studying and

Development. New Jersey: Prentice-Hall.

Learning types for youngsters. (2009). In About Learning Disabilities. Retrieved from http://www.aboutlearningdisabilities.co.uk/learning-styles-for-children-with-learning-disabilities.html

Norris, A., & Kershner, J. (1996). Reading types in youngsters with dyslexia: A neuropsychological analysis of modality choice on the studying type stock. Learning Disability Quarterly, 19(Fall), 233-240.

Reis, S., Schader, R., Miline, H., & Stephens, R. (2003). Music and minds: Using a expertise improvement strategy for younger adults with williams syndrome. Exceptional Children, 69(three), 293-313.

Yong, F., & McIntyre, J. (1992, February). A Comparative research of the training fashion preferences of scholars with studying disabilities and college students who’re gifted. Journal of Learning Disabilities, 25(2), 124-132.

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