The initial step of making learning effective and enjoyable is to understand YOUR personal learning style. Teachers often use their preferred learning style as their main mode of teaching and if students do not share those same preferences then learning can be very frustrating for both parties.
You may have noticed that even your own children learn differently than you do. Have you ever noticed a child quickly losing interest in your lesson, all while another child is fully engaged? It’s important to respect personal abilities and weaknesses because every individual is unique.
Simply, your personal learning style is the way in which you learn best. Generally, one may categorize the 9 learning styles into three main categories:
Educational science has conducted many studies for years and has determined that when some individuals struggle with learning it may be a question of how they are being taught. The theory of multiple intelligences was developed in 1983 by Dr. Howard Gardner, professor of education at Harvard University.
Gardner’s Multiple Intelligences include:
1. Verbal-linguistic intelligence (well-developed verbal skills and sensitivity to the sounds, meanings, and rhythms of words)
2. Logical-mathematical intelligence (ability to think conceptually and abstractly, and capacity to discern logical and numerical patterns)
3. Spatial-visual intelligence (capacity to think in images and pictures, to visualize accurately and abstractly)
4. Bodily-kinesthetic intelligence (ability to control one’s body movements and to handle objects skillfully)
5. Musical intelligence (ability to produce and appreciate rhythm, pitch, and timber)
6. Interpersonal intelligence (capacity to detect and respond appropriately to the moods, motivations, and desires of others)
7. Intrapersonal (capacity to be self-aware and in tune with inner feelings, values, beliefs, and thinking processes)
8. Naturalist intelligence (ability to recognize and categorize plants, animals and other objects in nature)
9. Existential intelligence (sensitivity and capacity to tackle deep questions about human existence such as, What is the meaning of life? Why do we die? How did we get here?
(Source: Thirteen ed online, 2004)
Sadly, the majority of the educational systems assume that everyone can learn the same materials in the same way and that a universal measure suffices to test student progress and achievement. Dr. Howard Gardner’s theory challenges this notion.
Try and build a student-centered approach to teaching that closely pays attention to the varied background, learning style, and ability of each learner in front of you. It is a method of teaching in which instructors and students work together to create a supportive and open environment allowing each individual to participate and feel equally valued.
Even though there are many learning styles, realistically, you and your students may fall under several. Your student may possess one style exclusively, while you may have a person that can relate to more than one.
You don’t have to teach or learn something in all eight ways. Take the time to observe and test your environment and then decide which particular pathway interest you the most. Try incorporating drawings, jigsaw puzzles, and investigating maps for your visual learners as they can be taught effectively through physical imagery (graphics, charts, photographs, drawings, 3-D modeling, video conferencing, and other multimedia).
Aural learners can be taught by turning lessons into poems, and/or speaking rhythmically. Physical learners prefer using their body, hands, and sense of touch. They are inclined towards hands-on activities where they get to use movement and touch as a means of learning. They communicate well through body language and like to be taught through physical activity and role-playing.
Logical or mathematical learners can be taught effectively through logic games, investigations and mysteries. Importantly, they need to learn and form concepts before they can deal with the details.
Social learners can be taught through group activities, debates, and/or dialogues. Intrapersonal learners are in tune with their inner feelings and have a strong will, confidence, and opinions. They can be taught very effectively through independent study. You may also target several areas with simple tools. For example, an early elementary school student can learn extensive math, geometry, problem-solving and social skills from LEGO, building blocks, and woodworking projects. Don’t forget, have fun!
Your turn! Take the quiz and see for yourself, what is your learning style?