Neurodivergent learners: Helping students learn differently
As society learns more about the diverse ways people learn, more and more educators are advocating for more inclusive and creative approaches to education.
One of those educators is Mary Klovance. She is a Counselor at School Her, British She is also the owner and clinical director of the Neurodiversity Family Center in Victoria, Columbia. She also has Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD).
To better support neurodivergent students, Klovance said it was important for educators to understand some of the language on neurodivergent.
According to the Cleveland Clinic, “Neurodiversity” It’s a term used to describe the unique way that everyone’s brain works, because no two brains work the same.
“Neurodiversity is actually an umbrella term,” Klovance told CTV’s Your Morning on Thursday. We all have neurodiversity.”
Being a neurodivergent means having a brain that works differently than the average or “typical” person. For example, people who learn and perceive in atypical ways, such as those with ADHD or autism spectrum disorders, are considered neurodiverse.
Klovance says there are educational approaches for educators to help neurodiverse students succeed in school.
One approach, known as the “flipped classroom,” reverses the traditional classroom experience, so students take classes at home and complete assignments in the classroom. Klovance says it’s based on the idea that people don’t learn simply by absorbing information.
In a flipped classroom, teachers may post video lectures online for students to watch outside the classroom on their own time. In this way, students can speed up, slow down, split the video into chunks, pause and take notes to see how they receive and absorb the information in the lecture. You can control it.
“So you can absorb the information over time,” says Klovance. “And the real learning really happens in the classroom, when you discuss concepts[and]ask questions of the teacher. It’s an engagement piece.”
Klovance says this approach helps address the problem of getting stuck on homework when students have questions about the learning material that can’t be answered until the next time they attend class.
“What often happens is…you go to class and have a lecture and they say, ‘OK, go home and do your homework,'” she said. “If you don’t have a teacher to ask questions, you will be stuck. How much are you actually absorbing?”
Another approach that can help neurodiverse students is project-based learning, also known as “inquiry-based learning,” Klovance said. In this approach, students suggest project topics of interest and learning only occurs through these projects.
“It’s important to find a student’s area of interest. Let’s say it in an English class. Basically half of the semester is when students focus on that interest,” she said.
Klovance says the method could be particularly useful for students with ADHD and autism. This is because her one trait common to both conditions is a tendency to be overly focused on a task or subject.
“So if you can pick something that you really like, you can write articles about it, write research papers, and do all these things about things that actually interest you,” Klovance said. He is engaged, interested and turns things in on time. “
By tapping into students’ hyperfocus, project-based learning helps minimize some of the negative traits associated with ADHD, such as difficulty managing time, Klovance said.
adaptation to the environment
Klovance says most teachers can do a better job of embracing neurodiversity than expecting neurodiverse students to follow normal classroom expectations.
While neurodivergent students don’t always benefit from typical learning approaches, most neurotype students need to cope better with strategies such as flipped classrooms and project-based learning. She said, therefore, teachers can hopefully support all by adapting lessons to meet the needs of neurodiverse students.
“I think what happens is[people]think of neurodiverse people as ‘others,'” she said. It works, so I really want to focus on changing the environment.”