Supporting Diverse Learning Styles: A Case Study in Student Led Syllabus Design

Supporting Diverse Learning Styles: A Case Study in Student Led Syllabus Design

By Lauren Howard Harding, Tennessee Tech University

Essays? Lectures? Debates? Simulations? Let the students decide! This case study in student led syllabus design examines how empowering student choice helps meet the needs of diverse learning styles in order to improve student outcomes. Students in an Honors American Government course participated in a syllabus design survey in which they selected their preferred learning method, combination of assignments and activities, accountability mechanisms, testing structure and level of active learning. Through this process, students were able to design a syllabus that reflected a diversity of learning styles and a combination of passive and active learning mechanisms including traditional lecture, readings and research-based writing assignments, as well as debate, simulation and small group discussion, tailored to the preferences of the class. These options allowed students to zero in on their learning style, facilitating choices between feeling and thinking or doing and watching in the active experience or reflective observation learning continuums. Research shows that students learn best when their individual learning style is taken into account.

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The Journal of Political Science Education is an intellectually rigorous, path-breaking, agenda-setting journal that publishes the highest quality scholarship on teaching and pedagogical issues in political science. The journal aims to represent the full range of questions, issues and approaches regarding political science education, including teaching-related issues, methods and techniques, learning/teaching activities and devices, educational assessment in political science, graduate education, and curriculum development.


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