Effect of Culture on Student Learning
Effect of Culture on Student Learning
A person’s method of learning describes the modes, methods, or strategies one uses to assist in learning tasks and organizing information. Individuals have different modes of learning For instance, some people are visual learners meaning that they emphasize on visual strategies and mental representations for understanding information. Others learn through cooperative learning strategies that involve working in small groups. These different styles of learning are influenced by various factors that shape them in their routine learning activities. Consequently, such factors characterize learning methods among students. One factor that influences learning among students is culture. Culture affects every aspect of learning for the students since it determines the effectiveness of the learning styles and methods utilized by teachers and instructors.
According to the Educational Research Service (ERS) (2003), culture is described as the set of ideas, values, attitudes, behaviors and traditions that exist within large groups of populace. Such components of culture are transferred from one generation to another and are thus resistant to change over time. Cultures vary across the world and locally. The diversity in cultures explains the level of understanding and educational comprehension among students of diverse culture. The mode of learning for American students can be varied from the mode of learning for other foreign students. Usually, in schools where culture is not considered, students from various backgrounds viewed as inattentive and daft are grouped for special education. Thus, it is important to understand different learning styles for different culture students.
The impact of culture in learning is evident in schools. Students’ dissimilar cultures have created imbalance between diversity and uniformity, which is constantly destructive to many students and teachers. Culture is a way of life and it has advocated for different beliefs and norms that are different from the norms and beliefs of the majority culture in schools. The clashes in cultures of the students cause students to clamber in school and yet if their individual strengths were recognized, would lead to success and a boost in esteem and confidence. Furthermore, if such cultural issues were addressed, it would lead to decreased discrimination, labeling, stereotyping of students with different, and minority cultures from the occupiers of the majority culture (Swartz, 2009).
Despite the diverse cultures in schools and other educational facilities, uniformity continues to dominate learning practices. This is because public elementary and high schools generally surmise what they deem to be the proper method of learning which is standardized for every student. Over the years, the education system still regards similar teaching methods due to the notion that all students are the same. Students utilize the same texts and learning materials and apply the same pace on the similar capacity of material. Teachers teach whole factions of students, availing comparable information at analogous time to every student (Sizer, 2004). Such teaching practices dictate that most schools lean towards uniformity disregarding cultural diversity.
Emphasizing on the above, such similar methods that teachers continue to utilize in schools despite the cultural diversity are culturally insensitive and considered traditional. Teachers utilizing such teaching styles do not attempt to learn about the diverse cultures in the classrooms. Usually, such teaching methods are because of the material taught in teacher preparation courses, which is never the best approach. These teaching practices have a negative effect on students since it jeopardizes and restricts the learning process of a student. Consequently, restricting a student’s learning will cause the student to experience feelings of denunciation, isolation and fretfulness. Such feelings can also cause teachers to become frustrated and unable to communicate to their students (Irvine, 2003).
Every student requires to be respected, have an opportunity to maximize his or her potential and benefit from the learning institution. There is the need to call for acknowledgement of cultural diversity in educational institutions. Doing so will lead to the creation of a balanced student atmosphere that will be determined with awareness to the various culture constituents rather than the efficiency of the prevailing teaching system. Furthermore, a balanced student environment will lead to positive cultural responsiveness and easier recognition of various cultural differences that will assist teachers. Consequently, embracing the various cultural differences among different students accrues to cohesion in the schools (Banks, 2004).
Cultural differences involve factors such as facial expressions, body language and physical gestures. Depending on one’s culture, these non-verbal cues have a great effect on student learning. For instance, students from Asian and Latin American cultures denote respect by circumventing the glance of authority personalities. Therefore, a teacher or a lecturer who is unfamiliar with such a norm might interpret the evasive eye contacts as disrespect. Additionally, American Indian students do not answer in front of classes since they are afraid of being assumed as braggarts. However, teachers that do not understand this norm find the student as inattentive or unmotivated (Koppelman & Goodhart, 2011).
Culture also influences attitudes regarding physical contact, whether it is a greeting or a hug. In America, students involve themselves individually and competitively in learning activities. Consequently, majority of Native American students engage in cooperative learning activities that involve incorporating groups in learning activities (Ingalls & Hammond, 2006). Additionally, some learning activities involve direct contact between students. For instance, Asian female friends often hold hands while men occasionally embrace each other in public. This is different from Americans who occasionally feel uncomfortable with such behavior. Therefore, if teachers do not put such norms into practice, students might be viewed as reluctant to participate.
Moreover, culture also dictates teaching practices in schools. This is because different cultures employ different teaching styles that familiarize with the students. Usually, teachers have a propensity to read a narrative in small sections. They avail information and then verify students’ comprehension with questions and discussions. However, this method could be dissimilar with American Indian students since they are taught to listen to all the information available and then arrive at a conclusion. Furthermore, teachers quiz students on novel skills they are learning in order to analyze a student’s degree of acquisition. However, American Indian students are educated to study through modeling and application. Therefore, it is exact to state that teaching practices cannot be constant for every student (Ingalls & Hammond, 2006).
The effects of culture on learning are numerous. However, such implications should motivate teachers to respond to such unresolved issues. The essential application for teachers to ensure effective learning is accommodation of cultural differences and learning styles. This means that teachers have to be aware of the different cultural backgrounds of their students. However, teachers require an in-depth knowledge regarding diverse learning styles in order to accommodate for the difference in culture (Irvine, 2003). This will enable them to develop fascinating learning experiences. Such learning experiences, on the other hand, will assist students to be able to employ their strengths to be successful. Additionally, accommodative learning experiences ensure the students adapt in their environments further increasing their chances of success since they are more comfortable with their learning locale.
Moreover, awareness of cultural differences enables teachers to cooperate and function together on various curriculums with a learning style viewpoint. This leads to selection of new materials, development of new discipline policies and prominence of questions regarding individual style and diversity. By adapting new teaching techniques, teachers will become motivated to create new methods of accommodating the needs of certain students in the classroom. Moreover, teachers will discover that focusing on learning styles would aid them in understanding whether a specific technique is successful. For instance, cooperative learning is successful since it allows different students to work together on a single objective.
According to Irvine (2003), the implication of being aware of a student’s culture and learning style assists teachers to assess and analyze their individual instructional practices and become responsive to providing diverse learning experiences. Improved instructional diversity will be advantageous for all the students regardless of culture. Additionally, teachers who are successful with culturally different students expound more on knowing about their students thus creating improved instructions that will greatly benefit the students based on their needs and preferences. Therefore, awareness of a student’s culture does not only involve analyzing the student’s biography but also incorporating the needs and wants of the student concerning cultural differences.
Moreover, for teachers to promote cultural infusion among students, they should be able to embrace the students’ diverse cultural characteristics. This method will enable students to be more open with their instructors and develop positive emotions regarding the classroom. Additionally, by appreciating the different cultures, the teachers will become culturally responsive by being knowledgeable about the various cultures. Embracing such cultural characteristics will lead to the development of new learning styles in response to different learning methods for the students. Furthermore, teachers will desist from becoming frustrated and be able to reach to their students (Irvine, 2003).
Teachers should also become flexible to devising teaching approaches that develop group-oriented classrooms (Irvine, 2003). Such academic groups enable students from different backgrounds to function together and increases cohesion among students in the classroom. Additionally, the classroom groups ensure that students cooperate positively with each other leading to the accomplishment of set tasks and activities. By working together, students are also able to know about each other’s cultures as well as foster new methods of learning in classrooms, which will increase their academic performances. Furthermore, the group oriented classrooms assist in avoiding focus on individual students, which draws out the collective ability of students working together.
Finally, teachers should understand the various cultural practices students adapt in their learning styles. Instead of publicly addressing such practices that may seem disrespectful, the teacher should exercise privacy and communicate with the student on the importance of participating in class. In addition, by privately conversing with the student, the teacher and the student are able to forge a student-teacher relationship that will allow the student comprehend the essence of participating in the classroom and also guide the teacher in understanding the student for improvement in cultural teaching practices.
With the impact of culture on learning being adequately focused on, it is necessary to focus on the improvement of teaching in schools by incorporating culturally responsive techniques. On a higher level, teacher preparation courses and training agencies in service delivery should focus on utilizing the solutions aforementioned to encourage cultural diversity and improve learning in schools. Without this sort of attention, the education system will continue experiencing consecutive drop out rates and low graduation rates in high school as well as an inconsistent representation of learners in special education courses.
Banks, J. A. (2004). Handbook of research on multicultural education. San Francisco, California: Jossey-Bass.
Educational Research Service. (2003). Culture and learning. Arlington, VA: Educational Research Service.
Ingalls, L., & Hammond, H. (January 1, 2006). Teachers’ Cultural Knowledge and Understanding of American Indian Students and Their Families: Impact of Culture on a Child’s Learning. Rural Special Education Quarterly, 25, 1, 16-24.
Irvine, J. J. (2003). Educating teachers for diversity: Seeing with a cultural eye. New York: Teachers College Press.
Koppelman, K. L., & Goodhart, R. L. (2011). Understanding human differences: Multicultural education for a diverse America. Boston, Massachusetts: Pearson/Allyn & Bacon.
Sizer, T. R. (2004). Horace’s compromise: The dilemma of the American high school; the first report from a study of high schools. Boston, Massachusetts: Houghton Mifflin.
Swartz, E. (January 1, 2009). Diversity: Gatekeeping Knowledge and Maintaining Inequalities. Review of Educational Research, 79, 2, 1044-1083.
1. What is the effect of culture on student learning?
According to Swartz (2009), culture, which is mainly comprised of different sets of beliefs, practices and attitudes, affects the learning process of students. This is because the different attributes of culture create an imbalance between diversity and uniformity in schools. Additionally, most schools attempt to achieve uniformity in schools but diversity is fundamental in order to cater for the needs of students form minor and different cultures.
2. Are teachers affected by students’ diverse cultures?
It is factual that teachers are also affected by the cultures of the students in their respective schools. This is because diverse students require the use of diverse learning styles and methods that will enable them understand the different areas of study. According to Irvine (2003), teachers require adequate knowledge of the students’ cultures to provide efficient learning styles. This helps them understand certain behaviors among the students.
3. What is the importance of culturally sensitive education?
Culturally sensitive education employs the use of learning styles that conform to diverse student cultures in a typical classroom setting. This type of education is important because it allows students to express themselves in the classroom. Moreover, teachers employing culturally sensitive styles know more about the students’ culture and are thus able to understand peculiar classroom behaviors exhibited by such students (Irvine, 2003).
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