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As the name suggests, linguistic learners most easily acquire information through words. They love to read, write, and tell stories. Memorizing names, places, dates, and trivia come naturally to these learners (Mantle, 2002). People with a linguistic preference have an awareness of the sounds, rhythms, and meaning of words. These students learn best by saying, hearing, and seeing words.
When teaching to these students try having them write down information because that will help them remember it. Obviously they should be encouraged to read both for school and pleasure, but they should also be encouraged to participate in spelling bees or to take a creative writing course. Some games to introduce these children to are scrabble, boggle, and yahtzee.
Logical learners are very mathematically inclined. They enjoy solving problems, particularly if they are math related. They welcome the challenge of number games, problem solving, pattern games and like to experiment. They are very logical and straightforward. Logical learners are curious by nature and may incessantly ask you questions about how things work, relationships between things, and where things come from (Mantle, 2002). They do well if they have a sense of order and are given step-by-step instruction (Reiff, 1996).
Lesson plans for these students should include charts, diagrams, and tables when possible since this type of student learns best through categorizing, classifying, and working with abstract patterns or relationships. Let them do experiments and show them how to use a calculator. Some games these learners might like to play include Uno, checkers, and chess.
Spatial learners are able to visualizing things very easily. They work well with colors and pictures, and using their imagination. These learners are very artistic, but they sometimes find it hard to express themselves. For example, asking them to draw a picture will get their feelings across better than simply asking them what is wrong (Reiff, 1996). It is important to encourage any sort of creative attempt that these learners make. It might seem as though they are wasting time when in actuality they are thinking hard about something that they have not put on paper yet (Mantle, 2002).
Make sure to have a variety or art materials such as paint, markers, crayons, glitter, and fabric ready for these learners to use.
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Some details, pitches, and rhythms may escape the normal listener, but musical learners pick up on them naturally. They learn best through melody, rhythm and music. These learners enjoy playing instruments and singing, and you may find that they drum or tap on things a lot. Things that are set to music or a beat are easier for them to pick up (Reiff, 1996).
Encourage these students to join the school’s choir or orchestra. Allowing them to give presentations using a musical format is an excellent idea. Suggest that they write a song about a subject in order to help them memorize information.
This type of learner is always on the move. They continually walk around, they have to touch everything, and they have prominent body language that helps to express their feelings. They have a hard time sitting still and find it difficult to sit down and read or do homework. These learners are capable of doing many tasks at one time They learn best through “hands on” activities.
In order to keep the attention of these learners it is best that lessons be ten to twenty minutes long. Try to come up with ways to put their energy towards learning such as role-playing. A field trip to a park or nature center could help them learn about nature and geography. Charades would be a good game for these learners.
These learners are "social butterflies". They make friends easily and naturally adjust to any social situation they may find themselves in. These learners are patient, tolerant, and very sensitive to the feelings of others. These characteristics make them stand out as leaders among their peers, who may look to them for advice on how to settle a dispute. This learner does their best work in group situations because they can share their ideas and compare them with others’ while reasoning with and relating to the people they are grouped with.
One way to get these learners thinking is to engage the class in a group discussion. Any kind of group activity would be geared towards their preference.
These learners are completely opposite from interpersonal learners. They prefer to work alone. They take pride in being independent and original, and they are easy to pick out of a crowd. They can be characterized as the "strong, silent type" and have a deep understanding of their feelings, moods, and motivations. These learners work best doing individual projects and in situations where they can work at their own pace. They often need encouragement to socialize.
These children should be given the opportunity to do individual work but they should also be given the chance to work with their peers. Encourage them to keep a daily journal or diary.
The Theory of Multiple Intelligence
In 1983 Dr. Howard Gardner, a professor of education at Harvard University, developed the theory of multiple intelligence. The theory proposes eight different intelligences that account for a broader range of human potential than the traditional I.Q. testing. The eight intelligences are strikingly similar to the seven learning styles of the learning style theory. Linguistic learners would fall into the linguistics intelligence. Logical learners have the logical-mathematical intelligence just as spatial learners have spatial intelligence and musical learners have musical intelligence. Bodily learners have bodily-kinesthetic intelligence. Interpersonal and intra personal learners have interpersonal and intrapersonal intelligences respectively. There is a naturalist intelligence but there is no naturalist learner. However, the correlation between the bodily learner and the naturalist intelligence is apparent (Silver, 2000).
Developing a Lesson Plan
When developing a lesson plan that makes use of the learning styles, it may be useful to evaluate your students in order to identify their preferred style. There are many learning style inventories available in books and online at sites such as http://www.surfaquarium.com/im.htm, which offers a printable version. Ideally a teacher would want to incorporate all of the learning styles into their curriculum so that every child in their class has a chance to learn in his or her own preferred way. A way of including such a technique into the classroom is using a strategy called “teaching around the wheel”(Silver, 2001). Thomas Armstrong gives a perfect example using multiple intelligences of how a specific topic could be taught using each preference. “If you’re teaching or learning about the law of supply and demand in economics, you might read about it (linguistic), study mathematical formulas that express it (logical-mathematical), examine a graphic chart that illustrates the principle (spatial), observe the law in the natural world (naturalist) or in the human world of commerce (interpersonal); examine the law in terms of your own body [e.g. when you supply your body with lots of food, the hunger demand goes down; when there's very little supply, your stomach's demand for food goes way up and you get hungry] (bodily-kinesthetic and intrapersonal); and/or write a song (or find an existing song) that demonstrates the law (perhaps Dylan's "Too Much of Nothing?")”(2000).
Arguments For and Against Recognizing Learning Styles in Lesson Activities
The theories of learning styles and multiple intelligence are widely known within the educational world. Why, then, do most teachers refuse to incorporate them into their lessons even when it would help their students learn better? Designing a lesson plan that covers all of the learning styles Is extremely time consuming and can also be difficult to do. It could also mean that teaching something would take two or more times longer because of all the different ways that the material would have to be presented.
Though this strategy is very time consuming and requires a lot of extra effort on the teacher’s part, it is beneficial to the students. It takes the dullness out of the classroom and gives the students a reason to look forward to going to school because they will find learning to be fun. Incorporating the learning styles into the classroom will give each child the opportunity to use more of their potential, which will most likely result in an improvement in the quality of their work as well as higher grades. Knowing their learning preference can also help them in the future because they will know which way they learn best and be able to use that to their advantage when studying.
While many people possess the characteristics of several learning styles, it is most common to have one or two stand out among the others. It is important to identify this preference and develop it so that one can figure out how they learn best and how to take advantage of that knowledge. Teachers should find out the preferences of their student and figure out ways to match them with meaningful learning activities. It might take some extra time and effort, but isn’t the education of a child worth the trouble?
Armstrong, T. (2000) Multiple intelligences. Retrieved on April 30, 2002, from http://www.thomasarmstrong.com/multiple_intelligences.htm
Learning Styles and Multiple Intelligence. (2002). Retrieved April 8, 2002, from http://www.ldpride.net/learningstyles.MI.htm
Description of learning styles and multiple intelligences as well as tests to find out what style you possess.
Mantle, S. (2001, May1). The seven learning styles. Retrieved February 19, 2002 from Http://www.lessontutor.com/sm1.html
Lists and describes the seven learning styles and gives an example of how a teacher can teach to students from each group.
McKenzie, W. (1999). I think..therefore…M.I.! Retrieved April 8, 2002, from http://www.surfaquarium.com/im.htm
Gardner’s theory, an interview with Gardner, list of intelligences as well as lists of activities that each intelligence excels in.
Montgomery, S., & Groat, Linda. (2000, August). Student learning styles and their implications for teaching. Retrieved April 25, 2002, from http://www.crlt.umich.edu/occ10.html
Gives ways to incorporate learning styles into the classroom.
Reiff, J. (1996). Multiple Intelligences: Different Ways of Learning. Retrieved April 8, 2002, from http://www.udel.edu/bateman/acei/multint9.htm
Describes characteristics of each learner and how to help them develop their preference.
Treuer, P. (2002). Learning Styles. Retrieved April 9, 2002, from http://www.d.umn.edu/student/loon/acad/strat/lrnsty.html
States Learning Theory and provides links to information on theories and opinions about learning styles.
Dunn, R., Denig, S., Lovelace, M.K. (2001). Two sides of the same coin or different strokes for different folks? Teacher Librarian, 28(3), 9. Retrieved February 27, 2002 from academic search/EBSCO database.
States that there are 21 learning styles. Compares and contrasts the Dunn and Dunn Learning Style Model and Gardner’s Theory of Multiple Intelligence and makes the differences clear.
Fasko, D. (2001). An analysis of Multiple Intelligences Theory and its use with the gifted and talented. Roeper Review, 23, 126-130. Retrieved April 8, 2002, from ERIC/ EBSCO database.
Discusses the pros and cons of using multiple intelligences with gifted children. Also looks at the impact of the theory on instruction and evaluation.
Friedman, P., & Alley, R. (1984). Learning/teaching styles: Applying the principles. Theory into Practice, 23(1), 77. Retrieved February 26, 2002 from Eric/EBSCO database.
Teachers tend to teach through their own learning style and should try to broaden their preferences. They should also encourage student to learn through their preferred style.
Hodgin, J., Wooliscroft, C. (1997). Eric learns to read: learning styles at work. Educational Leadership, 54, 43-45. Retrieved March 12, 2002 from WilsonSelect.
Describes how a school managed to cater to children of different learning styles and what strategies they used and how they measured their success.
Manner, B. (2001). Learning styles and multiple intelligences in students: Getting the most out of your students' learning. Journal of College Science Teaching, 30, 390-393. Retrieved April 8, 2001, from ERIC/ EBSCO database.
Martin, G. & Burnett, C. (2000). Maximizing multiple intelligences through multimedia: A real application of Gardner's theories. Multimedia Schools, 7, 28. Retrieved from ERIC/ EBSCO database.
Shaughnessy, M. (1998 January). An interview with Rita Dunn about learning styles. The Clearing House, 71(3), 141-145. Retrieved March 12, 2002 from WilsonSelect.
Dunn explain that styles often vary with age, achievement level, culture, global versus analytic processing preference, and gender. Describes the main components of the different styles.
Gembrowski, S. (2001). Mental methods; Students have individual learning styles, theory holds. San Diego Union- Tribune, 1B. Retrieved February 28, 2002 from Academic Universe/Lexis-Nexis database.
Article based on three styles of visual, auditory and kinesthetic learning. Interviews teachers about how they accommodate their students.
Gross, R. (1999, December). What’s your learning style?. Convene. Retrieved April 9, 2002, from http://adulted.about.com/gi/dynamic/offsite.htm?site=http%3A%2F%2Fronaldgross.com%2FDec.%252799.html
Article illustrating how different people perceive things and express themselves and how to reach each type of learner in a lecture.
Webster’s Dictionary. (1987). Larchmont, NY: Book Essentials Publications.
Dunn, R. S. (1996). How to implement and supervise a learning style program. Alexandria, VA: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development.
Discusses learning styles and how to use them advantageously in the classroom.
Silver, H., Strong, R., Perini, M. (2000) So each may learn: Integrating learning styles and multiple intelligences. Alexandria: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development.