Teacher's experiences of a learning styles approach to curriculum implementation : Dunn and Done?.
Critical times demand daring teachers, creative responses and innovative approaches. Teachers‘ experiences of curriculum implementation in schools are unavoidably dynamic and diverse daring innovation and change. The demise of outcomes based education in South Africa since 1994 has resulted in several revisions with questionable success for learners, teachers and schools. Learning styles, a cognitive, psycho-biological, brain-based approach, claims to be able to contribute to, influence and address how teachers teach best for curriculum and schooling success (Dunn, 2009; Kazu, 2009; Kiguwa, 2003; Maribe Branch, 1995; Serife, 2008). This empirical study is a case of teachers‘ experiences of the implementation of South Africa‘s National Curriculum Statement Policy (2002) and the Curriculum Assessment Policy Statements (2010) through the Dunn and Dunn (1978) learning styles approach to teaching in the intermediate phase. This thesis examines the experiences of professionally qualified practising teachers at a suburban primary school in Pietermaritzburg. It attempts to deeply describe and intensively understand contributions, complexities and contradictions experienced by this school‘s community through data sets from interviews, document reviews, photo data and artifacts. At the heart of this study is the need to understand successful curriculum implementation through innovative teaching approaches, increasing repertoire of teaching strategies (Curriculum News, 2010). It brings to light that matching learners to their learning styles may influence successful curriculum implementation in schools. In so doing it claims to contribute to understanding issues of respect, rights and dignity, problem-solving and creativity, among others, adding to the body of knowledge around teacher awareness and insight, teacher and learner identity and potential, brain-based teaching and learning, metacognition, and diversity. It also reveals such implementation complexities around costly training and equipment, school and teacher buy-in, time and creativity demands. This investigation further highlights contradictions around curriculum overload, pace and systemic/departmental compliance, creativity in teaching, brain profiling against the 21 elements of the Dunn and Dunn (1978) learning styles model and demographic (in) differences. Understanding teachers‘ experiences of learning styles theory now is novel and necessary since it involves a holistic approach to the development of learners. Compelling a potential to resonate with most teachers, advancing learning styles theory as an approach is worth investigating for what counts for sound learning, further stirring interest in learning styles research, a visible gap (Grosser and de Waal, 2008).