As you attempt to incorporate student experiences into course material, be aware that males
and females tend to have very different experiences in the math/science areas. Girls more often
opt for science courses such as advanced biology, while boys will take advanced chemistry and
physics. Boys have more out-of-school, science-related experiences than girls. This gap in
experience continues in school, where one study showed that 79 percent of all student-assisted
science demonstrations were carried out by boys. Boys drop out of math and science courses
because they cannot do the work, while girls abandon these fields even when they are
Using the experiences and backgrounds of students will inject a note of realism into training.
By being aware of the gender equity issue, you will be able to avoid the traps of perpetuating
gender bias in the examples you use in class.
You will also see differences in the attitudes students bring into the classroom. They will have
many different reasons for attending the class. Some will be in the class because they want to
be--for all the right reasons. Others will only be in the class because they have to be, and they
will resent it. Some might be indifferent, just marking time. Attitudes undoubtedly affect
performance since they indicate how students feel about learning at a particular time. You must
detect the individual motivation levels indicated by attitudes so that you can channel students
efforts toward success.
Just as students have different ways of learning new material, they also have different styles
of learning. One persons learning style may not be effective for another person. You must be
flexible and perceptive enough to use various teaching techniques that appeal to more than one
That increases the chances for all students to master the objectives of the
training. You especially need to know a students learning style when you must provide
remediation or tutoring for a student having academic problems. Most people have a preferred
or dominant style of learning, but use all of the basic learning styles to some extent depending
upon the situation. As an instructor, you need to be aware of the four basic learning styles:
concrete, active, reflective, and abstract.
Concrete learners prefer an experience-based approach to learning. They rely heavily on their
own feelings and personal judgments. Personal involvement is the key for them. They learn
best by imitation after watching others take part in role playing and simulations. They very
much like to be involved with the real thing. For example, suppose you were trying to teach
your students how to operate a fire pump.
Concrete learners would prefer to watch you
demonstrate the operation. They could then operate the pump by imitating your performance.
Active learners prefer to learn by becoming involved with the subject and taking an active
step-by-step approach. They learn best from small group discussions, structured exercises, and
problem-solving approaches. Active learners are experimenters who prefer to systematically try
out new skills. A trial-and-error way of learning appeals to them. To operate the fire pump,
active learners would systematically try out several different ways of operation.
Reflective learners like to observe and reflect (make comparisons and contrasts) before