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Lisa A. Guion and David C. Diehl2 depends on the individual's level of ethnicity, which is contingent upon many environmental, economic, and social factors (For more information on level of ethnicity, see EDIS fact sheet FCS9223, Thus, educators must identify the learning style preference of the diverse clientele they wish to reach. Enhancing instruction to connect with diverse audiences begins with an awareness of your own preferred learning and teaching styles as well as respect for the way different cultural groups or Social science literature reveals that a person's individuals may prefer to receive, give, and process way of thinking, behaving, and being are deeply information. Educators tend to teach the way they influenced by such factors as race/ethnicity, social prefer to learn. If they are highly visual learners, then class, language, and other cultural constructs (Banks, they tend to use a lot of visual aids and clues in their Cookson, Gay, & Whawley, 2001; Shade, 1997; teaching. It is important that the educators recognize Villegas & Lucas, 2002). Likewise, the preferred way this. It is more important that the educators respect in which information is delivered is also closely tied the fact that all learners, for example, do not learn to social constructs (Banks, Cookson, Gay, & best through visual learning methods and may have a Whawley, 2001). In other words, an individual's preferred learning style that is quite different from the learning style, in most cases, is culturally influenced. educators. The degree that the style is influenced by culture 1. This document is FCS9226, one of a series of the Family Youth and Community Sciences Department, Florida Cooperative Extension Service, Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, University of Florida. Original publication date September 2005. Revised June 2010. Original written by Lisa A. Guion, former faculty member. Revised by David C. Diehl. Visit the EDIS Web site at http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu. 2. Lisa A. Guion, former faculty member; David C. Diehl, Assistant Professor, Department of Family, Youth and Community Sciences, Florida Cooperative Extension Service, Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL 32611.
Enhancing Instruction to Connect with Diverse Audiences 2 The next phase of this process of enhancing instruction is finding out how the diverse individuals prefer to learn. Educators should assess the dominant or preferred learning styles of the diverse clientele whom they are trying to serve through their program. There are two methods for determining the preferred learning style(s) of a group. The first is outlined in this paper and is time-intensive. This article will outline some steps for learning about the clientele and their preferred ways of learning. The other strategy is to consult the literature on preferred cultural learning styles and then validate whether the target audience shares the preferred learning styles of a given cultural group. Validation can occur via the usage of cultural brokers or by surveying (telephone, written, e-mail, etc.) a small, representative sample of the targeted clientele to determine whether the cultural learning style preference holds true for the majority of them. The work of Guion et. al. (2003) provides a summary of the literature on cultural learning style preferences for the four main ethnic groups: African American, Asian American, Hispanic/Latino American, and Native American. The final phase of the process to enhance instruction is a continual integration of various cultural learning styles into the learning process. Essentially, this is referred to in the literature as It is also called, to a lesser degree, The benefits of culturally appropriate instruction include the following: Individuals are more likely to participate and attend future programs if they feel that the material taught was valuable and meaningful to them. The attention span is extended when information is taught via the learner's preferred learning style. There is an increase in knowledge of the subject taught when learners receive education in a way they can readily process and understand. Developing teaching strategies that take into account preferred cultural learning styles demonstrates a true commitment to education and respect for the culture. It takes the emphasis away from the educators (what the educators like to do, their preferences) and instead focuses on what will enhance learning. When diversity is explicitly addressed, it takes cultural diversity from an occasional thought to a natural, ongoing part of the planned learning process. There are some key components that are necessary to enhance instruction in order to connect with diverse audiences: 1. Developing a clear sense of your own cultural identity. 2. Learning about the cultural backgrounds and experiences of diverse individuals you work with or desire to work with. 3. Learning how to be a competent and effective cross-cultural communicator. 4. Becoming cognizant of the divergent styles of thinking and learning of diverse populations. 5. Recognizing the needs, preferences, strengths, and experiences of individuals from diverse cultures. 6. Incorporating culturally relevant curriculum materials and instructional aides. 7. Using multiple modes of teaching to accommodate different learning styles. 8. Having positive expectations of all students.
Enhancing Instruction to Connect with Diverse Audiences 3 9. Encouraging community involvement, as well as parental involvement, in Extension programs. Below are some strategies that you can use to learn about the culture of your targeted clientele so that you can make your instruction more culturally appropriate. These strategies focus on more direct, interpersonal methods. Contact the immediate and extended kinship groups of the targeted individuals, then seek their involvement in program planning, design, and implementation. This will allow you to see how these events are carried out and how information is conveyed and transmitted. Participating will help generate ideas for you as you plan programs for that particular audience. G Use them as cultural brokers who can assist you in planning the learning experiences that will be best received. In addition to making sure that the teaching methods and strategies you employ reflect the cultural learning style preference of the targeted audience, it is equally important that the educational materials be culturally relevant and inclusive. Some educators may contend that a curriculum, lesson, or other educational aid does not need to be customized to different ethnic/cultural groups. For example, some may feel that the principles that guide good parenting are the same for all humans, so a specific curriculum targeting a certain ethnic/cultural group is unwarranted. Others might adamantly object and feel that this position advocates a "one-size-fits-all" approach. This author acknowledges the fact that most basic principles that are addressed in Extension subject areas apply to all individuals, such as what constitutes proper nutrition, good money management practices, and so forth. However, the literature clearly suggests that due to different cultural norms, values, beliefs, practices, and traditions within a given ethnic group, the way the principles are presented and taught in the curriculum may need to vary in order to effectively reach diverse audiences (Allison, 2003; Villegas and Guion, et. al., 2003; Lucas, 2002; McCarthy, C., 1994; Shade, 1997; Sleeter, 1992; Sparks, 2000). Therefore, educators should identify resources for teaching specific subject matter through culturally and ethnically diverse curricula, lessons, games, and activities. Before choosing any curriculum or educational resource for a specific group, educators should ask the following questions: 1. Is the content accurate and research-based? 2. Is the material written at a reading level appropriate for the audience? 3. Are the applications and activities appropriate for the needs of the audience? 4. Does the curriculum cover issues/topics on subjects that are important to the audience? 5. Does it provide interesting application exercises for applying the ideas? 6. Are the examples relevant to the life experiences of the audience? 7. Does the content reflect the norms, values, and preferences of the target audience and avoid negative stereotyping?
Enhancing Instruction to Connect with Diverse Audiences 4 8. When related to the subject content, are the cultural observances acknowledged and/or celebrated? 9. Does the curriculum encourage partnership between educators and participants? Educators must transition from teaching all groups using the same methods and educational materials. Certain teaching styles and learning aids that are appropriate for one group may not be appropriate for a group from a different cultural background. In groups where there are mixed styles of preferred learning, there should be mixed teaching methods and use of mixed educational materials. It may be difficult given time constraints, responsibility for multiple programs, and understaffing; however, small steps can and should be taken to build classroom experiences in which all participants have the optimum chance of learning. Allison, B. N. (2003). Multicultural classrooms: Implications for family and consumer sciences teachers. 95(2), 38-43. Banks, J. A., Cookson, P., Gay, G., & Whawley, W. D. (2001). Diversity within unity: Essential principles for teaching and learning in a multicultural society. 83(3), 196-210. Guion, L. A., Goddard, H. W., Broadwater, G., Chattaraj, S., & Sullivan-Lytle, S. (2003). Gainesville, FL: Florida Cooperative Extension, University of Florida. McCarthy, C. (1994). Multicultural discourses and curriculum reform: A critical perspective. 44(1), 81-118. Shade, B. J. (1997). Springfield, IL: Thomas Publishing. Sleeter, C. E. (1992). Restructuring schools for multicultural education. 43(2), 141. Sparks, S. (2000, May). Classroom and curriculum accommodations for Native American students. 35(5), 259. Villegas, A. M. & Lucas, T. (2002). Preparing culturally responsive teachers: rethinking the curriculum. 53(1), 20-43.