Research Proposal: Teaching Theories: An Annotated Bibliography Fleming, Neil

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¶ … Teaching Theories: An Annotated Bibliography

Fleming, Neil. VARK: A Guide to Learning Style. (2007). Retrieved December 9, 2008, at http://www.vark-learn.com/english/page.asp?p=categories.

In Neil Fleming's "VARK: A guide to learning styles," the author reproduces some of the most important work in educational theory. He does this through a presentation of the four learning styles as presented by Fleming and Mills (1992). These learning styles are visual, aural or auditory, reading and writing, kinesthetic, and kinesthetic. He also discusses mixtures, or multimodals. Together, these learning styles make up the acronym "VARK." According to Fleming, a visual learner is one who prefers to see information in pictures that could have been said in words. For instance, Fleming notes that these types of learners like diagrams, charts, graphs, etc. Teachers can also reach the visual learner through patterns and shapes. Thus, Fleming goes on to explain that a better word for this learning style is graphic, as this is what the learner tends to prefer. Fleming also notes that movies or power point presentations are not preferred by this type of learner. Like the visual learner, the auditory learner prefers words that are spoken aloud to other types of learning. When information is spoken in lecture, discussion, and electronic format, these students are able to better grasp it. Interestingly, these students also prefer formats such as e-mail and talking through a problem to one's self or others, according to Fleming. Those learners who prefer to learn via reading and writing similarly deal with words, although these words are written not spoken. According to Fleming, many teachers prefer this type of learner as this learner follows the traditional brand of academic learning, which tends to focus on learning via textbooks and demonstrating learning via essays. Finally, the kinesthetic learner prefers to practice and participate in a skill. In other words, this learner learns best through experience. This learner has a preference for demonstrations, videos, and the like. The experience must be an example, personal experience, or simulation that helps the student practice. In conclusion, Fleming writes that many people cannot be described by one model. Some people, who are "context specific" choose the method of learning appropriate for the lesson, while others want to gain information of all different types to further their understanding.

Fleming's reproduction of this information represents one of the most important educational theories in the body of literature. Though an understanding of these learning types, teachers are able to better change their methods to engage their students. They can also encourage teachers to recognize that students of a certain learning type have been long preferred in the academic world. On the other hand, the contents of Fleming's article may make teachers too concerned with trying to please different learning types that they do not engage all students in different types of media. Regardless, these learning types are a fundamental way for teachers to communicate information with their students.

Bizzell, Patricia. The Teacher's Authority: Negotiating Difference in the Classroom.

1994). In David B. Downing (Ed.) Changing Classroom Practices (pp. 194-201). Urbana: NCTE.

In Patricia Bizzell's "The Teacher's Authority: Negotiating Difference in the Classroom," the author argues that teachers should inform their students that they are trying to change their opinions through certain values in order to engage the students in the classroom. Bizzell does this through three main points. First, she counteracts the argument that classrooms should be value-neutral environments; second she argues that teaching values is more respectful of students; and third she suggests that value-positive teaching has a positive impact on society. In her first point, Bizzell states that value-neutral education can no longer be fathomed. Because teachers have noticed that certain groups have been "systematically...excluded" in reading lists and styles of language taught, their styles of teaching have been influenced by this information (194). Thus, Bizzell writes that it is impossible for many teachers, as a conglomeration of their education and observations, to teach in a value-neutral manner. In her second point, Bizzell argues that value-positive teaching is actually more respectful and beneficial to students. First, she states that it is "more respectful of students beliefs" because it "invites engagement that characterizes...the supposedly value-neutral classroom" (195). Thus, Bizzell suggests that students who are presented with certain values have the opportunity to express their own values by becoming engaged in the class. This not only honors their own values, but also encourages students to become participants in their education. Traditionally, the college classroom has been described as a free-flow of ideas. In this way, the value-positive classroom encourages this view, allowing students to freely exchange their ideas. Finally, Bizzell's third point argues that teaching in a value-positive manner is better for society. She states that, "these values are [not] simply those that the teacher prefers. Rather...these values should be those that are cherished in the society whose culture the educator is paid to reproduce" (196). In the United States, then, Bizzell argues that certain "American" values really do exist, and that it is the teacher's job to promote them in order to cultivate a better American society.

For many readers, Bizzell's argument may sound frightening. Teachers, especially in the elementary and secondary schools, have most likely always been taught that they do not convey their personal beliefs to students. Thus, the very words "value-positive" may be frightening to them. But as Bizzell argues that the teacher's individual beliefs are not those to be passed on, but instead the beliefs of the culture, teachers can rest easier. Although her concept may seem frightening, Bizzell's argument is compelling, and one that could make many changes in the classroom. Not only would it encourage students to be more responsible in society, but also it would encourage the type of classroom that most educators favor -- that which encompasses a free flow of ideas. In a classroom where the teacher does not begin a discussion with a certain value, students are probably not likely to chime in with their own. Instead, they would probably be intimidated that others would make fun of their belief. In an environment in which the teacher introduces values, however, the student should not feel as wary about throwing his or her opinions into the discussion.

On the other hand, Bizzell's theory could be described as the peak of a slipper slope. While many may believe it fine to teach American values upon which most agree, some teachers may hold values that they believe are majority values, values that are actually the polar opposite of the American values that most hold. These teachers may see Bizzell's piece as condoning their teaching according to these values. Thus, ethics and values are a very personal matter. Bizzell's theory of the value-positive classroom may result in social and classroom engagement, but instructors and administrators should be wary about the values they teach.

Corbett, Edward P.J. (2000). Mutual Friends: What Teachers Can Learn From Students and What Students Can Learn From Teachers. In James C. McDonald (Ed.) the Allyn and Bacon Sourcebook for College Writing Teachers (pp.1-9). Needham Heights: Pearson.

In Edward P.J. Corbett's article, "Mutual Friends: What Teachers Can Learn From Students and What Students Can Learn From Teachers," the author theorizes that both students and teachers can exist together in a symbiotic relationship. His main argument is that teachers can learn from their students how to be better teachers. Corbett makes this point using three major arguments. First, he argues that students can learn from teachers in a subject area. Second, he argues that students can learn from teachers in the area of ethics and morality. Third, he suggests that teachers can learn from students' interests and actions as beginning learners how to be better students. In the first point, Corbett argues that anyone who knows more about a subject than another person has become an expert on that topic, and becomes a teacher when he or she imparts that knowledge to the other person. This can apply to any subject, according to Corbett, including negative ones, like using drugs. What separates career teachers from these de facto teachers, however, is the fact that teachers is the fact that career teachers tend to educate students in an ethical manner, encouraging them to be good people. Thus, Corbett enters his second point, that students can learn from teachers in the area of ethics. Corbett suggests that teachers embody their ethical values everyday by the way they act and conduct their classrooms, and by whether or not they are fair and just. Teachers pass on this lesson in ethics and morality to their students even if they do not speak about it in the classroom. Corbett brings up the fact that most people, if asked for someone who has greatly influenced them, would choose a teacher. Thus, Corbett suggests that teachers impart their ethical values to their students when they inspire them to make something of their lives. Finally, Corbett theorizes that teachers can learn from their students the way to become better… [END OF PREVIEW]

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