Incorporating Learning Styles in the Classroom
What does it mean to know that people learn well in different ways? Multiple intelligence is the concept that a person's intelligence is measured and based on the strengths found in the different areas of learning. For example, one of the ways that I learn well is to talk to myself or others when I am trying to learn something difficult. I may come across a little crazy when I do this, but it works for me so I don't mind. I have even described certain processes of embryonic development to my boys while studying for an exam. Sure, they looked at me in complete confusion and clearly never understood a word I said. Luckily, I knew what I was saying and speaking it aloud enabled me to recall the information better. I think this way helps me due to my ability to remember conversations. I, however, have not always been this way. When I was younger, I was mostly a visual learner. If you had tried to read a story to me, it would have been in one ear and out of the other before I ever had time to process it. Instead, I had to read it for myself or see it in action before I could retain the information. I was also pretty good at picking out patterns in math problems in order to figure out how to solve them. Even though I learned little from listening, I never felt unintelligent because of it. I guess I knew the areas in which I was strong and used those to help in areas where I was lacking.
In The Theory of Multiple Intelligence, Howard Gardner explains, "Multiple Intelligence is a theory that was developed to document the fact that human beings have very different kinds of intellectual strengths and that these strengths are very, very important in how kids learn, in how people represent things in their minds, and how people use it in order to show what it is that they have understood." If there were only one type of intelligence then there would be no need for more than one style of learning. Nonetheless, we know there are many types of intelligence which require different approaches in order to learn effectively. Gardner has spent much of his life researching multiple intelligence and has listed them as follows: visual-spatial, bodily-kinesthetic, musical, interpersonal, intrapersonal, linguistic, logical-mathematical, and naturalistic.
visual-spatial learner is likely to learn best when there is visual stimulation providing information. They tend to be very good at conjuring mental images and had rather read instructions than hear them. The verbal-linguistic learners often learn best by listening to the spoken word or hearing themselves speak. They can also learn well in environments where they are able to converse with others. Logical-mathematical learners do best when they can recognize an order or pattern in a task. They tend to love numbers and solving problems through the use of logic. Some learners do best in environments where they are allowed to learn through hands-on activities. They are called bodily-kinesthetic learners. They do well when their assignments can be physically manipulated.
Musical learners tend to learn well in environments that allow them to express themselves through music or dance. They are also very likely to remember information when it is delivered to them through a rhythmic beat or song. Learners who are interpersonal tend to be very outgoing; we usually describe them as having never met a stranger. They love working with people and truly understand the meaning of good communication. Intrapersonal learners are very in touch with their own thoughts and feelings. They are likely to learn well by themselves and are capable of reflecting within themselves to gauge their own progress. A naturalistic leaner is one who is highly aware of the natural world around them. They are usually very knowledgeable in topics related to nature and love spending time outdoors.
What does this mean for the students in our future classrooms and how will we ensure that all students learn well? Since we know that there are 8 ways in which a person can learn well, we can assume that there will be more than one learning style in our classroom. I believe that it is the responsibility of the teacher to get to know the students and how they learn. We need to talk with them and ask them questions so that we can get to know what it is that sparks their interest. It might be a good idea to use the first day of school gauging students' curiosities and testing them to find out where their talents lie. Another thing we should consider is how we structure and conduct our classroom. We need to offer multiple ways of providing instruction to our students. For example, maybe we could organize the students into groups based on their learning styles. Those that like to work in groups could discuss assignments with each other to help the verbal-linguistic learners as well as the interpersonal learners. Visual-spatial, logical-mathematical, and bodily-kinesthetic learners could perform experiments via computer apps that would provide mechanical approaches and allow them to see the assignments in action. They could strategically manipulate variables in order to identify patterns to gain further understanding and logical reasoning. Musical learners could use information related to the assignments to create a stories through songs or movements. They could record themselves using an iPad and post it to the class blog for others to view. Naturalistic learners could learn through projects pertaining to nature and even be given time to do assignments outside whenever possible. Intrapersonal learners could be allowed freedom to read and work in a quiet place alone or however they best internalize new information. All learners can benefit from the use of multimedia tools. However, it is the responsibility of the teacher to research ways in which to incorporate them into the classroom. I feel that creating a personalized lesson plan is the best way to engage students and teach them what it means to be active and lifelong learners.
Here is an Intelligence Test so that you can find out how you learn well. When you are finished, please let me know how you did.
What is your learning style?