In spite of the efforts of which educators contribute for the developing of holistic approach concerning learning styles for children of any age, there are only bits and pieces of cognitive controls do exist for the kids’ benefit especially among special children in local private and public schools that uses mainstreaming mechanism and an individualized education program. The controversy on the subject of measuring learning styles and its application led to the investigation of studying the effects of learning styles on the performance of special students who have been selected from a local private and public institution that holds both regular and special classes.
The study covered the total population of special education classes in the private and students classified as mentally retarded in the public mainstreaming classes. The school heads have volunteered to participate on the questionnaires and the interpretations were made possible using descriptive statistics, correlation analysis and paired t-test.
As for the results in a local private school, the data shows evidence that tactile learning has more effectiveness towards the performance of special children, followed by auditory and visual learning styles which both have mean score of 0.92 compared to the public mainstreaming classes that shows evidence in practicing the conventional visual style. Using visual learning style in public institution becomes the closest interest of special students that affects their total performance. Interventions borne from the results of the study addresses improvement towards class activities, adaptation of teaching techniques and promotion of community-based programs to impose parents and community awareness.
Special education has been an encouragement for developmentally challenged individuals to study and learn despite of disabilities. This came possible after having passed the “All Handicapped Children Act” known as Public Law 94-142 by the United States Congress in 1975. However, this later became amended as “Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) and reauthorized in December 2004 to align with the federal law which is No Child Left Behind Act. This means that all children are capable of benefiting from education. This revolutionary development of education has led educators to study the nature of their disabilities, review the role and responsibilities of SPED educators, evaluate learning needs and implement individualized education program. The physical, cognitive, academic and behavioral difficulties are carefully measured and become basis for the necessity to receive special education.
To support this investigation, some theoretical bases have been considered to explain the need for developing and implementing learning styles for a special child. According to the efforts of R. Pierangelo, the perceptual abilities of a child can be evaluated as we study the deficit in some area of the learning process that may be slowing down the processing of information by interfering in the child’s ability to receive, organize, memorize and express information and this information is delivered to the senses through several foregoing channels like auditory, visual, tactile and kinesthetic, gustatory and olfactory channels. Another study adapted from the work of B.F. Skinner is the reward system for improving individual’s behavior using an operant behavioral technique known as token economy. He stressed out that the development of personality is primarily the result of an individual’s history of reinforcement. Based on the underlying principle by which the personality or the behavior can be changed, these ideas have now been using in education through programmed learning and for the special education of retarded and autistic children. Lastly, the inspiring study of Carl Rogers who deliberately revealed the advantage of providing familial supports to increase the self-esteem of a child. He suggested that parents providing conditions of psychological safety and freedom is more likely to develop creative potential than children raised by parents who do not practice positive parent-child interaction.
Today, children with special needs in the face of poverty, discrimination and unawareness of community and the family could be detrimental factors in a threatening possibility of abuse, maltreatment and neglect. These conditions created an impact for this research to move forward in understanding the special child’s needs according to their potential and capacity to learn. By using primary and secondary data to gather information about special students’ behavioral assessment, clinical profiles recorded by a developmental pediatrician and competencies of special education teachers would serve as basis for the implementation of learning styles, development of teaching strategies and community programs to fulfill the purpose of this research.
This research study aims to assess the effects of learning styles on the performance of developmentally challenged students of a local private and public schools, specifically the objectives are: (1) to determine the degree of importance among learning styles, (2) to verify how variables are significantly related, and (3) to conclude on the evidence of differences in implementing learning styles in both local private and public special education schools.
There were a total of 26 SPED students selected from a private and public school which currently implementing mainstreaming classes. These students were examined in terms of assessing their overall performance in school using learning styles. The data collected were supported by questionnaires and the school heads have volunteered to answer it. The two sets of questionnaires have been conducted in a day and the statistical treatment of data used were descriptive statistics to answer the 1st objective, correlation analysis to answer the 2nd objective and paired t-test to answer the 3rd objective of the study. There were three subscales on the learning style assessment questionnaire that includes auditory, visual and tactile learning style. To find the score on the visual learning style, simply add responses on items 2, 7, 8, 10, 13, 15, 16 and 20. For the auditory, obtained by adding together the responses on items 1, 3, 6, 9, 14, 17, 21, 23 and finally, the tactile learning style is found by adding together the responses for items 4, 5, 11, 12, 18, 19, 22 and 24. The SPED teachers who answered the questionnaires for the students selected the following choices that includes always, sometimes, seldom and never by checking the corresponding space provided. The higher the score in one area, the more the child prefers the learning style. If the child rate similarly across all three learning styles, that means he uses all of them equally to grasp information. A low score in any area means the child hardly ever relies on that learning style. SPED educators answered the interview schedule for record purposes and as supporting information.
Discussion of Results
(1) As for the results in a local private school, the data shows evidence that tactile learning has more effectiveness towards the performance of special children, followed by auditory and visual learning styles which both have mean score of 0.92 compared to the public mainstreaming classes that shows evidence in practicing the conventional visual style. Using visual learning style in public institution becomes the closest interest of special students that affects their total performance.
(2) There is a strong correlation between student’s performance and learning styles implemented in both private and public schools.
(3) There is no evidence of differences in learning styles implemented in both private and public SPED schools.
Summary and Conclusions
Parents significantly have a special role in assisting their special child in the effort of discovering the capacity to self-management, learning new abilities and interacting with the environment. Family supports are important for the development of child’s personality and increase on self-esteem. This would lead to a healthy emotional development. Sending them to a special education school could be a great help for the child to learn well, be guided and adapt. With the professional assistance of SPED educators, parents are secured that their children would benefit most to the individualized education program and other special learning techniques.
Special educators on the other hand, is suggested to hone themselves in terms of identifying their core competencies and develop skills that would advance them to new heights of proficiency and expertise in the field. This way a SPED educator can easily get along with behavioral assessment, understanding more the nature of the disability of special students and how to develop and use interventions appropriate to the special child’s learning needs.
Private and public schools may establish school projects for the enhancement of the special education initiative and for the benefits of SPED students who have the following nature of disability: autism, hearing impaired, cerebral palsy, ADHD, slow learners, learning disabled, Down syndrome and mental retardation. The projects may include regular in-service training program for teachers, parenting seminars with topics focusing on responsible parenthood, proper discipline, home management and supervision of students with special needs, instilling proper values and attitudes among children, developing every child’s potential and partnership in learning. Other programs that may be implemented are medical and dental mission and free counseling on child care and home management with special needs.
For community awareness, non-governmental or non-profit organizations (local, regional, national and international organizations) and other private sectors (business and industry) who are concerned in the welfare of developmentally challenged community may organize and develop a community-based rehabilitation program or CBR as one of the strategies within the sphere of community development that provides for the rehabilitation, equalization of opportunities and social integration of people with disabilities.
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