Accommodating learning style
Any classroom will include a mix of students who have a variety of learning modes and styles. Few students will have even considered the possibility that different ones exist. Furthermore, learning styles appear to be developmental. Some students absorb information best through hearing it.
For some it is part of their job description, for others it is because they have specialized knowledge in a certain field or because they enjoy doing it maybe all of the above. You have never felt so stupid.
This learning style is prevalent within the general population. It may not be so much a matter of compromising as it is accommodating. Rarely is a person all of one type and none of another. They can solve problems and make decisions by finding solutions to questions and problems.
They are interested in people, tend to be imaginative and emotional, and tend to be strong in the arts. This learning style is important for effectiveness in information and science careers. Odds are, every student in your class has a different preferred learning style, which can make it difficult for you to be the most effective teacher. Muddling the problem further, educators are observing that many current students, products of a multimedia society, process information in ways that are very different from previous generations. People with an assimilating learning style are less focused on people and more interested in ideas and abstract concepts.
The problem is that typical university teaching only caters to the first two disciplines such as music, dance fine arts, etc. They prefer to watch rather than do, tending to gather information and use imagination to solve problems. Probably, although you may not have realized it. People with a converging learning style are best at finding practical uses for ideas and theories.
In formal learning situations, people with this style prefer readings, lectures, exploring analytical models, and having time to think things through. People with an accommodating learning style will tend to rely on others for information than carry out their own analysis.
One thing you can suggest is that the student discover what learning style they use. Ideas and concepts are more important than people. Many students try to struggle through, thinking that there must be something wrong with them, too embarrassed to ask for help.
These are the people who will work from lists and written directions and instructions. People with a converging style like to experiment with new ideas, to simulate, and to work with practical applications.
Accommodating conflict resolution style
Students who prefer the former learn best by going from the general to the detailed, while those who prefer the latter work best by going from the detailed to the general. There are many competing theories in this arena, but a brief summary of a few should suffice. People with a diverging learning style have broad cultural interests and like to gather information. These people require good clear explanation rather than a practical opportunity. They are attracted to new challenges and experiences, and to carrying out plans.
There might be agencies on your campus that can provide testing, or the student may have to rely on self-analytical tools. Armed with new insights into how they learn best, these students may then be able to face the intellectual challenges presented to them in the university setting and in their life beyond it. Ask the student to envision a scene in which the material to be learned is being used or acted out somehow.
Maybe you are not cut out for this after all. Information can only be absorbed using one's senses. Students can move objects around to dramatize a concept or act out the concept themselves. People also differ in how they solve problems.
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