Tuesday, October 08, 2013

Post 6: Learning styles? Hmmm

So I decided to take the opportunity to comment about learning styles and incorporating them into a session. We recently discussed the important mission we have as a writing center to help students recognize their learning style for writing. This is great, and it’s something I wish someone would have done for me early on; however, back when I needed this information, I didn’t know I needed it. I’m finding that my tutees are similarly in the dark. They don’t know the importance of the information I am giving them, so they really don’t seem to care.

I say this in the wake of an experience I had just after our class on metacognition. I was really into it, ready to start helping students learn about learning. I was excited when I noticed that my tutee could spot errors and make corrections independently if he was allowed to read the sentence out loud. I commented that maybe his learning style was geared toward sound, that he may be an auditory learner, and that this may be how he learns best in regards to writing. I felt great. I had done my duty, and my tutee was equally excited about this new knowledge. He responded with a resounding “hm,” and he continued reading.

This anti-climactic response to my observation took me back a bit. Isn’t the student supposed to have an ah-ha moment? Isn’t my input supposed to change his study habits forever, my one suggestion supposed to be the sole reason he graduates? Well, no. But I had hoped that he would care a bit more than “hm.”

After a quick conference with Claire, I realized that what we are doing in regards to learning styles is the same as what we do with all areas of writing. What I mean is that we help the student take steps towards his or her goal, no matter how small or large that step may be. Maybe my tutee didn’t care at the time whether he understood how he writes/revises best. Maybe he just wanted to get the damned paper turned in, get his passing grade, and move on to more “important” matters. But, maybe my comment will trigger something in his thought process that helps him into the future. And, maybe on another date a different tutor will comment about his learning style, and the idea will be doubly reinforced.

What I really came to understand is that my role as a tutor may have a subtler effect than I had previously considered. Maybe a student won’t care, at the time, about the things I’m trying to help him learn, but then again, maybe the small things I impart will end up making all the difference.


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