Select an ethnic group from your textbook, or outside readings, and discuss how the application of learning theory may vary according to the cultural beliefs and values of this group. Based on the research, justify why you think specific learning techniques could be used by your chosen ethnic group.
In any Ethnic groups need an educator, and learning style, that is culturally sensitive and tailored to their individual needs. It is important to use unique teaching strategies because many have unique experiences. For example, their first language may not be English and, therefore, teachers much be aware of language barriers that may effect the student’s ability to learn. In addition to language style, there are many stereotypes and generalizations surrounding these groups. For example, Asians are all smart and Blacks are less intellectual than Caucasians. These stereotypes are not only hurtful but they also have a negative impact on the self esteem of the student, which has an effect on their academic performance.
To be more specific, let’s talk about understanding Asian students learning styles, cultural influence and learning strategies. The role play by culture in influencing students in their learning cannot be underestimated. Various academics have concluded that Chinese and/ or Asian students tend to be passive learners. They seldom participate in class discussions. In an attempt to help students in their learning, it is necessary to provide a greater into the insight of why students behave in a certain way. By doing so we would open the doors to bridge the gap in students’ learning. There has been much research and studies which seem to indicate that Asian students tend to be dependent learners relying on their teachers to provide content materials in contrast to countries they choose to pursue their education that encourage more independent learning.
Learning style is defined as a set of cognitive, emotional, characteristics and psychological factors that serve as relatively stable indicator of how learners perceive, interact and respond to the learning environment. Essentially, it concerns how learners perceive and receive information that involves knowledge acquisition. Likewise, there are several learning styles which can be categorized into:
1. Perceptual learning styles
This learning style includes learners who learn by visual, auditory, processing (read/ write), tactile and kinesthetic. Visual learning style involves learners preferred learning being by sight such as the use of PowerPoint and video. For auditory learners, learners prefer hearing sound such as teacher speaking or use of audio recording. In processing, learners learn best through a combination of read and write where the learning
process could involve either note-taking or reading either aloud or silent. Tactile learners learn best with the use of physical touch with sense of touch. Kinesthetic learners involves “do-it-yourself” learning style where learning is by trial and error and learning on the job usually apply with skill-based acquisition learning.
2. Cognitive learning styles
Cognitive learning styles could vary from that of focuser to scanner learners; field independent (convergent) versus field dependent (divergent). For focuser, learners pay careful attention into the finer details with in-depth analysis of the knowledge content. This may involve considerable more time and effort. For scanners learners which prefer to scan through the whole materials to form a broad understanding though it may not be in-depth but with less time. In the case of field independent learners, learners adopt a divergent approach by reading through the entire article or passage before “breaking” into smaller parts of the article or passage.
3. Personality learning styles
Personality learning styles include either reflective or impulsive learners. Reflective learners are cautious learners, preferring to gain deeper content knowledge, to ensure they are accurate in their understanding, think more carefully instead of “jumping into quick conclusion” in which mistakes may happen that will lead to embarrassment.
But does ethic group culture influence on learning styles?
For Asians like people in Thailand and Philippines, learning is Teacher-centered that retains much control of class. Students expect teacher to initiate communication, speak when ask to do so and harmony in class. Fair degree of importance place on success and achievement, reward achievement performance for Thailand (masculinity) while for Philippines (femininity) people oriented, caring for others and quality of life. Less distinction made between winners and losers. They preferred Implicit communication or “face conscious”. Use of mixture of assignments and examination with moderate level of uncertainty avoidance are practiced and importance to preserve the status quo and tradition, hence stability as a virtue is described. For this group of people, Success based largely on academic performance, brings pride oneself and family.
In countries where power distance is low, the approach to learning is towards student-centered where there is extensive interaction two-way communication between students and teachers. Students are encouraged to put forth their argument and critique. On the other hand, for high power distance society, teacher-centered is the learning approach.
Also there are challengers especially not all the students would still be in the private education institutions which could be addressed by tracking students. Another limitation could be to fine-tune the results to measure the learning styles of students based on nationalities instead of base on course and level of studies. Moving forward, if efforts are to be made to bridge learning gaps and encourage active, deep and independent
learning, blending both Asian and Western educational system (independent learning, active participation and critical thinker) may yield even a “win-win” situation. Student-centered approach where students where students are active learners and teachers would be more of a facilitator and coach is the way to go through as we progress into 21st century education. An understanding of culture facilitates teachers to adapt the learning strategies that
will motivate instead of demotivate students. For instance, teachers could make a gradual shift in learning strategies. Teachers could better reach out to students since they have a closer and more trusting relationship with students. A number of learning strategies can be used to enable a shift towards student-centric learning like Clarification pause where Instructor pause for a short while after concept or explanation has been made. This is to allow students to digest taught materials and possibly provide space for students to ask questions in areas of doubt. Can use Short quiz or review questions, Students notes with fill in the blanks space where materials partially provided and certain content are deliberately left blank by teachers which would require students to pay attention to fill in during lesson. Students would therefore pay more attention instead of listening to a lecture passively which students may not in fact been attentive. Also Flip classroom that is an n innovative learning method in which lecture materials are uploaded online a few days before actual lesson starts. Students are required to read and understand the lecture content. When students come for lesson, either questions or case study would be given to students to attempt. Students’ summary of other students’ answers, Concept mapping, Visual list, Think-pair share, Jigsaw learning, Collaborative teams, Probing questions and many more.
Recommended readings and sources:
1. Cortazzi, M. and Jin, L. (1996) Cultures of learning: language classrooms in China. In H. Coleman (ed.) Society and the Language Classroom (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press), pp. 169-206.
2. Cross, J. and Hitchcock, R. (2007) Chinese Students’ (or students from China’s) View of UK HE: differences, difficulties and benefits, and suggestions for facilitating transition, The East Asian Learner, 3 (2), 1 – 31.