Cognitive style identifies the ways individuals react to different situations. They include stable attitudes, preferences, or habitual strategies that distinguish the individual styles of perceiving, remembering, thinking, and solving problems. Individuals dynamically process and modify incoming information, organizing recent knowledge and assimilating it within the memory structure. This method adds to the individual’s intellectual development and extends the range of cognitive abilities that have been increasing throughout life. Zhang and Sternberg (2005) proposed a Threefold Model of Intellectual Styles in which they defined “intellectual styles” as individuals’ selected methods of processing information and dealing with tasks. They also stated that “intellectual style” is an all-encompassing term for different style constructs, including cognitive style, learning style, thinking style, and teaching style. The nature of styles and strategies provide information about children’s cognitive styles. This information can be used to improve (1) learning activities provided to children, (2) the teaching of children, and (3) children’s learning in school. One dimension of cognitive style is field dependence versus independence (FDI), which describes the individual’s way of perceiving, remembering, and thinking as they apprehend, store, transform, and process information. It distinguishes between field dependent (FD) and field independent (FI) students in a classroom situation, their learning behaviors, social situations and how FDI influences in the early childhood classroom, including. The cognitive styles’ characteristics define the individual’s way of understanding, thinking, remembering, judging, and solving problems. An individual’s cognitive style determines the cognitive strategies that are applied in a variety of situations and need to be considered when teaching students. Some teaching strategies and materials may increase or decrease achievement and learning based on the students’ cognitive styles. Thus, FDI cognitive styles have implications for teaching and learning
Olivia N. Saracho
Rob Webster, Paula Bosanquet, and Peter Blatchford
The early 21st century has seen a considerable increase in both the number and presence of teaching assistants (TAs) and learning support staff in classrooms. In the United Kingdom and elsewhere, TAs have assumed responsibility for teaching lower-attaining pupils and especially those with special educational needs or disabilities (SEND). This drift has occurred in a largely uncritical way and has attracted little attention because of the attendant benefits additional adult support has for teachers. However, evidence from research in the United Kingdom and the United States have revealed troubling and unintended consequences of this arrangement in terms of impeding pupil progress and increasing the likelihood of pupils’ dependency on adult support. Of particular concern are research findings that show how a high amount of support from TAs for pupils with high-level SEND leads to a qualitatively different experience of schooling compared to pupils without SEND, particularly in terms of having fewer interactions with teachers and peers. Heavy reliance on the employment and deployment of TAs to facilitate the inclusion of pupils with often complex learning difficulties in mainstream settings can be seen as a proxy for long-standing and unresolved questions about how teachers are prepared and trained to meet the learning needs of those with SEND and the priority school leaders give to SEND. Future efforts to meaningfully educate pupils with SEND in mainstream schools must attend to teachers’ confidence and competence in respect of this aim. In addition, extensive and collaborative work with schools in the United Kingdom is offering a more hopeful model of how TAs can supplement this endeavor. Improving how teachers deploy TAs and how TAs interact with pupils, together with addressing persistent problems relating to the way TAs are trained and prepared for their roles in classrooms, schools can unlock the potential of the TA workforce as part of a wider, more inclusive approach for disadvantaged pupils.
Dalun Zhang, Yi-Fan Li, and Melina Cavazos
Self-determination refers to a set of skills that helps individuals with disabilities control their life and achieve better inclusive outcomes. In special education, self-determination is often conceptualized as an educational outcome, which recognizes the important role that education plays in the development of student self-determination skills. Consequently, a number of educational practices have been developed to teach students with disabilities these essential skills. Some of the practices focus on helping students to acquire and maintain these skills; others focus on developing a conducive environment that allows and encourages individuals with disabilities to apply and exercise self-determination skills. Research has provided empirical evidence to support the need for teaching self-determination skills to students with disabilities. A number of evidence-based practices have been recommended for schools and parents to use in teaching these skills to students with disabilities. Some of the strategies focus on creating conducive environments that provide opportunities for individuals with disabilities to apply and exercise self-determination skills; others provide suggestions to families regarding what they can do to promote self-determination. A particular focus is on instructional practices because of the strong link between education and self-determination. Some popular instructional practices include teaching choice-making, self-management instruction, involving students in the transition planning process, and teaching self-determination skills through a self-determination curriculum such as the ChoiceMaker Curriculum, Steps to Self-Determination, Whose Future Is It Anyway?, Next S.T.E.P. Curriculum, Self-Advocacy Strategy, and Self-Determined Learning Model for Instruction (SDMLI).