ON STUDENT INSTRUMENTS
Updated: Feb 4, 2020
Q. Do you have a children's Mind Styles Delineator or learning styles instrument for assessing CS/AS/AR/CR behaviors in classrooms?
A. No. I will not create a child/youth instrument. Furthermore, I have not given anyone permission to develop one using my CS/AS/AR/CR terms. All rights are reserved.
Q. Why haven't you developed and marketed one?
A. The absence of a student instrument is not due to an oversight or a lack of interest in young people. No instruments exist because of findings from my experiments, field research, interviews and insights into the validity of such instruments and their side effects.
I realize that learning style instruments exist in varying forms today. Their creators and users believe in them and in their efficacy. I, too, believed in their potential in the early 70's when I began my work. I studied various instruments, questionnaires and surveys, then developed and tested different types based on my own theory. I soon changed my mind about their benefits. The old adage, "Direct experience provides a moral stance" rang true!
I shelved work on student versions, notified my colleagues and potential customers, and published my rationale. To date, my experience continues to confirm and reinforce my decision to not "unleash into the world" instruments that may potentially mislead or do harm to any young person or adult.
Q. What problems arose from a student version of the adult Gregorc Style Delineator?
A. Validity. Since the adult version is designed to aid people to identify qualities of their minds irrespective of the roles they play, they must use the Self as the reference point in ranking the specially-selected words on the Word Matrix. This is critical in word-association instruments. Young people simply could not do this. As a result, I could not identify a stable set of word choices to yield consistent results. These findings invalidated the predictive power of the instrument and the intent of the Delineator.
Q. What about a learning style instrument for identifying classroom preferences?
A. Questionable results appeared again. When I turned to a descriptive-based, sentence-type learning style instrument that focused on classroom behaviors, shadow studies and interviews revealed that some students didn't walk-their-talk when they reported, "I like to study in the library." Some gave socially-acceptable, politically-correct responses. Others provided wannabe answers. And some didn't react because items such as "I want to eat candy bars while studying" were unacceptable behaviors in school.
Design-wise, some students objected to forced choice responses like yes/no, always/usually/sometimes/rarely/never, most of the time/some of the time, etc. They said that the categories were too vague and that their answers would depend upon the subject matter, their interest, their liking of the teacher and their mood. A few indicated that they answered haphazardly because they "got tired of answering so many questions," got confused on the fill-in bubble answer sheet and became angry at researchers trying to get into their heads without their permission. And others offered answers that reflected non-natural, adaptive behaviors that they used to survive in school. They didn't consider their out-of-school and street-skill ways of learning to be legitimate.
These experiments showed me just how powerful a child's experiences and use of Free Will can be in affecting the responses on style instruments. They also demonstrated how cautious we must be before trusting the results enough to diagnose and label a child and then provide the right prescription. Inaccurate diagnoses can result in serious problems. The work ceased and I concentrated on developing the "principle-based" Mind Styles Model.
Q. What were some of the negative side effects of instrument usage?
A. They took many forms. Following are a few:
AMONG STUDENTS: Some students learned of their scores, didn't like them and complained. Others accepted the results because "tests don't lie." Many simply did not grasp the idea that they were CS and AS and AR and CR in proportions. They saw themselves as a CS or, in other models, a #2, a Blue, a converger or a left brainer. Some labeled themselves and others with negative terms and used the information as an excuse for not learning--" I'm a global, I don't do details." And, some demanded style differentiated instruction from teachers who were not participating in the implementation of the various models.
AMONG TEACHERS: Some teachers had not done any form of self-analysis because their chosen model didn't provide it. Many relied upon the test results and didn't seek to develop personal observational and interviewing skills. Some became dependent upon outside recipes and kits for providing prescriptions. Others developed a false intimacy by thinking they now knew the child from the test results. And some were ill-equipped to explain the underlying theories of the practices they were implementing and thereby opened a can-of-worms by offering misleading and false information.
AMONG PARENTS: Some parents took the scores at face value, received little explanation, became concerned about the results and demonstrated that "a little knowledge can be dangerous." Some advocates went to board of education meetings demanding that entire schools be converted to style testing and prescriptive teaching. And some showed animosity toward teachers and counselors who would not get on the bandwagon to match their child's style.
AMONG ADMINISTRATORS: Some administrators treated style as just another inservice idea and failed to study it before introducing it to their faculties. Some bought into the idea because a neighboring district was into it or a national speaker talked about it at a convention. Some started programs but didn't provide sufficient monies and training. And most didn't develop the necessary policies to prevent employers and law enforcement officials access to student style profile scores. Security issues were not dealt with from the get go.
Q. This is why your product brochures and web site state that "no student instrument exists for technical, ethical and philosophical reasons?
A. Yes. Clearly, student instruments can be "false witnesses." And, any use and application of them must be carefully considered. Such use also requires extensive training and a code of ethics to guard and protect all parties. In addition, some of the side effects go against key philosophical principles and compromise the Model's integrity. This is unacceptable.
Morally, we must be cautious so that we do not mislead any child about the nature of his/her mind, nor misguide any teacher or parent responsible for setting favorable conditions for that youngster. Levi said it best when he proclaimed, "He who shall cause a little one to stumble and to fall is marked, accursed; and it were better far if he had drowned himself."
Q. I remain interested in using a student instrument to assess my student's styles. Do you have any recommendations?
A. Yes. Review the literature and select another model whose creator is unencumbered with my experiences, concerns and reasoning. Use it until your need has been satiated.