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Module 6: Student Diversity

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Student Diversity – Summary

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Development and diversity have to be understood jointly, not separately. There are indeed similarities woven among the differences in students, but also differences woven among students’ commonalities.

Field dependence and independence can be important in understanding students because the styles affect students’ behaviours and preferences in school and classrooms.

Field dependent persons tend to work better in groups, it seems, and to prefer “open-ended” fields of study like literature and history.

Field independent persons tend to work better alone and to prefer highly analytic studies like math and science.

Other cognitive styles are impulsivity and reflectivity. As the names imply, an impulsive cognitive style is one in which a person reacts quickly, but as a result makes comparatively more errors. A reflective style is the opposite: the person reacts more slowly and therefore makes fewer errors.

For nearly a century, educators and psychologists have debated the nature of intelligence, and more specifically whether intelligence is just one broad ability or can take more than one form.

Howard Gardner’s theory of multiple intelligences proposes that there are eight different forms of intelligence, each of which functions independently of the others.

Each person has a mix of all eight abilities, more of one and less of another, that helps to constitute that person’s individual cognitive profile.

The idea of multiple intelligences leads to new ways of thinking about students who have special gifts and talents.

Supporting gifted and talented students usually involves a mixture of acceleration and enrichment of the usual curriculum.

Acceleration involves either a child skipping a class level, or else the teacher redesigning the curriculum within a particular class level so that more material is covered faster.

Enrichment involves providing additional or different instruction added on to the usual curriculum goals and activities.