Capstone/Dissertation Title

The contributing factors of cultural learning styles in the development of a multicultural classroom

Term

2006

Capstone

Thesis

Degree Name

MAEd

Abstract

My research and subsequent paper is a result of a noticeable learning gap in multi-cultural classrooms in the U.S. that primarily emphasize the learning styles of the American education system, but not the learning styles of other cultures represented in the classrooms. Student in our own ESL department at Century College often question how and why instructors present the material and tests. This led me to realize that there was probably something in the students' backgrounds that was causing them to question and resist the American teachers' ways of presenting their curriculum. I chose to investigate the learning styles of six cultures, including our own. I questioned and noted what my community college peers were saying, plus what I observed in my own classes, and I researched professional journals and books to learn more about the subject. I was amazed by the wide range of methods that are used to present information to students. In synthesizing the information that I gleaned from my research and my peers, I discovered many interesting things about the six cultures. Cooperative group work and being allowed to be in control of learning is important to Americans. However, I discovered that the Japanese students tend to value the process of finding an answer and they reject being singled out or standing out from the group, The Hmong have typically learned through storytelling and observation. Group process and consensus are important to the Mexicans, and the Ukrainians focus on memorization and system. Somalis tend to be poetic and involved in role playing. Because of the wide diversity in learning styles that are typically found in the Century College ESL classes, I created a unit plan for an intermediate ESL reading class. It incorporates aspects of these five cultural learning styles while guiding the students toward the American learning style which they will need to be familiar with once they enter other college classes. While the unit plan was developed to teach metaphors and similes, it is important for the reader to be aware that this kind of planning and teaching is definitely not limited to ESL and can be adapted to many other lessons and courses. Students in developmental reading, writing and mathematics would find this process very comforting and useful. However, before effective learning can happen in the classroom, teachers need to know and appreciate the different cultural learning styles that their second language learners bring with them to the American classrooms and be willing to meet them where they are.

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