An analysis of teaching styles in primary and Secondary School teachers based on the theory of Multiple Intelligences.

Author:Sulaiman, Tajularipin


The notion of style could be defined as a person's preferred way of using one's ability and its one of the contributing factor of the nature of differences between individuals in terms of ways in thinking, learning, teaching as well as carrying out duties or tasks (Sternberg and Grigorenko, 1997). The concept of style is always being associated and linked with the nature of individuality and is used to describe an individual quality, form, activity or behavior sustained over time (Rayner and Riding, 1997). The idea of style could exist in all areas and domains in the field of education, be it cognition, thinking, teaching and learning and it is undeniable that all these will influence the performance of students in both academic and non-academic settings (Rayner and Riding, 1997; Sternberg and Grigorenko, 1997).

According to Biggs (2001) Fan and Ye (2007), the term teaching styles was introduced around the 1970s when the role of styles in teaching and learning were increasingly drawing the attention of educators due to their significance in influencing the quality of teaching and learning process. Teaching styles emphasizes on teachers and their distinct individual approach to teaching (Evans et al., 2008). Based on Kulinna et al. (2000) in Evans et al. (2008). Aydin et al. (2010) did a study on pre-service teachers and identified some factors that affect teaching methods selected: their mentors, the topic taught, pedagogical knowledge, students' demands, personal characteristic, time, subject matter knowledge, material available, classroom management, own experience and courses taken. Bahar and Tangac (2009) found that teaching approaches is related to concepts associations in students' minds. Through an awareness of their preferred teaching styles, teacher will be able reflect and gain better insight into themselves and how their teaching styles could be modified, revised or complemented to improve their interaction with students. However, researchers in this field had work independently and developed their own set of indicators for identifying the different types of teaching styles and had led to the various dimensions in measuring teaching styles (Evans et al., 2008).

Throughout the years, several researchers had examined the nature and scope of teaching styles adding to the set of literature and contributing to the advancement or growth in related fields (Fan and Ye, 2007). For example, Stensrud and Stensrud (1983) examined the teaching style preferences of 95 public school teachers between visual, auditory and kinesthetic teaching styles and findings showed that 84.2% of teachers preferred the visual style, while 80% stated that kinesthetic was their least preferred teaching styles. Another example would be a study conducted by Henson and Borthwick (1984), where they proposed a model for teaching styles that consisted of 6 approaches: task-oriented, cooperative-planner, child-centered, participant-centered, learning centered and emotionally exciting. These styles were found to be mutually inclusive where each style complements one another yielding an effective teaching style when collaborated in different manners. It is in consensus between all educators and researchers that a possessing an extended repertoire of teaching strategies and styles would be beneficial to both teachers themselves as well as students to cater to needs of individual students and reach out to a wider range of students.

Another concrete research example on teaching styles is conducted by Sternberg (1997) where he proposed seven teaching styles consisting of Type1 and Type II styles (Type I: creativity-generating and complex; Type II: norm-favoring and simplistic) based on the theory of mental self-government proposed by Sternberg (1997), being compiled and functionalized through the Thinking Styles in Teaching Inventory. The seven styles in teaching consisted of (1) legislative style, (2) executive style, (3) judicial style, (4) local style, (5) global style, (6) liberal style and (7) conservative style. Based on literature, a variety of factors could affect the choice of teaching styles between educators or teachers. The factors may include educational experience, professional level, dedication to teaching, teachers' age, gender, subject areas (Evans, 2004), socio-cultural background and attitudes (Finn, 1999), as well as grades taught (Fan and Ye, 2007). According to a study by Egel (2009), he looked into the issue of teaching styles by examining the dimensions of primary school students' language learning styles and the ways in which these styles influence the teaching styles of teachers. Based on the findings of the study, private school teachers were better able to recognize the learning styles of students and adapt their teaching styles to accommodate the needs of students compared to public school teachers where classes in public schools are generally overcrowded.

In recent years, although a variety of teaching styles had been identified through different inventories proposed by researchers in different studies, the practice of contemporary teaching methods had started to dominant most classrooms. With the emergence of the contemporary teaching methods, teachers had taken an eclectic approach towards the 'traditional classroom' approach and the contemporary teaching methods. The principle of traditional teaching method which tends to classify learners as a homogeneous group where teachers 'transmit' knowledge to all the students in the classroom with a similar set of teaching method and by the end of the term, teachers expect all the students to excel in the standardized test being conducted, vary with the idea of contemporary teaching methods which emphasized on individual differences.

Educators in the last decade had hence faced with the issue of students not being able to meet the assessment criteria of standardized exams where standardized exam focuses solely on 'basic skills' which comprises of linguistic and logical-mathematical intelligences among students, overlooking other variations of intelligences that exist. But a divergent voice belonging to Harvard's cognitive researcher Gardner (1989) asserted that a redefinition of intelligence would enlarge the understanding of how children learn and become successful students (Jordan, 1996). Teachers struggle with finding ways to reach the diversity of individual learning styles and needs, hence teachers and educators had turned to the MI approach in teaching as a solution to teaching students with differences (Gouws, 2008; Klein, 2003; Reiff, 1997; Thompson and MacDougall, 2002) through eight varied pathways making MI a powerful tool that helps in achieving educational goals more effectively (and Hurry, 2000). This has led to the objective of the study that is to examine the differences that exist between the Multiple Intelligence profile as well as the teaching methods adopted between primary and secondary school teachers.

Personal characteristics of a teacher affects his/her teaching performance, effective teaching characteristics and teaching efficacy (Magno and Sembrano, 2008). According to the study conducted by Wu and Alrabah (2009), it was found that the Multiple Intelligence (MI) profile of an individual is very well related to their...

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