Student Effort and Learning Styles - Steve Barkley

Student Effort and Learning Styles

I just finished three days at the ABA IB World School in Muscat, Oman working with students, teachers, and parents examining the topics of student effort and learning style preferences. Students and staff all completed the Kaleidoscope Learning Styles Profile prior to my arrival. In a full day session staff examined strategies that might increase student effort from the book, Tapping Student Effort… Increasing Student Achievement.


We then considered how an understanding of teacher and student learning styles could impact effort. Since teachers were previously working with peer coaching, the day ended with pairs planning observations in each other’s classrooms around the day’s work.

Mona Nashman-Smith, the superintendent of the school, planed for the key elements of effort and learning styles from the teachers’ study to be presented to students in grade 3-12 and to parents. She is seeking a three way partnership that increasingly empowers students to lead their learning supported by parents and teachers.

Teachers were encouraged to rotate their instructional strategies providing multiple learning options and to empower students through reflection about their effort and approaches to learning/studying.

Students explored how they could assess their effort (rate it 1-10), identified study strategies linked to personal learning preferences, and consciously identify when extra effort was required to work outside their preferences.

Parents looked at ways to support studying in their child’s preferred style and considered possible conflicts when they tried to insist on studying in the parent’s style.

Mona provided me the following feedback:

“The students roared with laughter as you provided them with examples of learning styles that the students easily related to….You captured the attention of children as young as eight and adults well into their fifties!”

“A grade four student who was listening to Mr. Barkley was so excited to know that her tendency to move or jiggle is totally normal for the highly kinesthetic learner…” (Elementary Principal).

“The students I spoke to found the talk very rewarding as they were able to make connections between their successes and challenges and the way in which they think and learn…” (Secondary Principal)

“Yesterday evening I felt quite tired and was discussing with my husband whether I should attend Mr Barkley’s workshop. Our son, who overheard the conversation, said “You should go; the guy is great. We had him in this morning”. And so I went and did not regret it! In fact, time flew by and I could easily have listened to Mr Barkley for another hour. On returning home, I felt refreshed and was happy to find our son still awake. We had a vivid conversation and exchanged our views, and, finally, he told me all about the time Mr. Barkley spent with the 5-graders! He remembered the specific terms and the equation, so I could tell he really profited from the workshop. It made him find out more about himself and even his peers in the class!…”(ABA parent)

“This was the best presentation I have ever heard.” (Grade 11 student)

“I finally feel like all my personality quirks are normal.” (Teacher)

ABA will definitely bring you back to continue to build upon the work we started with the faculty, students and parents in an effort to make learning meaningful, simple and understandable.
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