Trainee teachers' cognitive styles and notions of differentiation


Purpose – To compare the cognitive styles of trainee teachers with their notions of differentiation and perceptions of its place/location within their teaching and learning during a PGCE programme of ITE. Methodology – 80 trainee teachers completed the Cognitive Style Index (CSI) (Allinson & Hayes, 1996) at the beginning and at the end of their course. After completing the CSI measure trainees received instruction on cognitive styles. To assess their initial understanding and prior knowledge of differentiation, all trainees completed a questionnaire at the beginning at the end of their course. Findings – At the outset rudimentary understandings of differentiation were found to be held by the trainees, as well as stylistic differences between the four style groupings. Gains in understanding of differentiation and the use of cognitive style in school were evident in all trainees. Moderate changes in style were evident, with all trainees becoming more intuitive over the course of the programme. Research limitations – The sample size may be seen as a limitation in terms of generalisability. Practical implications –The predominant direction of cognitive style movement was from analytic to intuitive. The suggestion that cognitive style whilst relatively fixed is also something that can be developed, is a feature which should offer encouragement to those developing university courses through interventions such as this. Originality - Teaching sessions on how cognitive styles can be used in the classroom were used to enhance trainee understandings of individual learning differences and increase awareness of own style to facilitate understanding of differentiation

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