George Evans states it in the most appropriate way anyone ever can: “Every child can learn, just not on the same day, or in the same way”.
Every individual possess different traits, from walking to eating. The phrase ‘Learning styles’ itself signals that there are different types of learners and one need not to be similar to the other. The way a student may gather, compose, comprise, assimilate and apply knowledge will be unique. I have seen kids do not ‘write’ the letters but just ‘draw’ it. The outcome is same, but the ways they follow are different. Respecting the individuality of every student, there are broad classifications available on types of learners. Individualized learning styles are important in the current classroom management strategies of many institutions. Learning levels and styles of students depend on their environmental, emotional and subjective (cognitive) background. In short, it is important to respect the individuality of each student and their way of learning. All are different, and it is a mentor’s responsibility to form and negotiate the lesson designs according to the student needs.
Howard Gardner, a famous psychologist, and Educator developed a theory to understand different types of Intelligence in students. This stands as a classic classification in learning styles of students. Gardner differentiates the students learning according to their skills, strengths, and knowledge accumulation strategies. For example, in a class there will be students who understand everything through verbal orations, and there will be also students who will understand pictorial representations very quickly.
According to the theory proposed by Gardner, there are around eight types of learning styles among students. These can be identified by doing a simple SWOT analysis most of the times. Students do prefer learning modes which have a large influence on their behavior. They also will choose the learning style matched with their strategies of learning. The comprehensive level of different types of learners will be different.
- Word Smart- Verbal and Linguistic Skills
Students who show this learning style will be best in all the basic language skills – reading, writing, listening and speaking. The students assimilate the information through reading, interaction, debates, etc.
- Visual Smart – Visual and Spatial Skills
Pictures and visuals create a certain notion of reliability among these types of students. They acquire information more by analyzing diagrams, seeing pictures, watching video or tutorials etc.
- Logic Smart – Logical and Mathematical Skills
The students who possess this learning style are fonder of solving calculations, categorizing, tabulating etc. They also will be keen on patterns and designs too.
- People Smart – Interpersonal skills
This group of students gains more knowledge through interaction, discussion, sharing, combined learning, etc. Their interpersonal skills in communication help them to work within a group and understand the severity levels of co-learners.
- Self Smart- Intrapersonal Skills
This type of students generally misunderstood as shy, but in real they are organized and self-sufficient. These students can gain more information through self-study. They set individual goals and work the best when they are alone. The role of a mentor is to guide these kids to a proper channel.
- Auditory – Musical Skills
These students are smart at learning through rhymes or music. They also may possess the talents of singing or affinity to music.
- Body Smart- Kinesthetic Skills
Children who have this skill will learn things better through action or movement. They need physical activities to understand better about things. For example, action plays, role plays etc can grab their attention and it is helpful for their learning.
- Nature Smart- Naturalistic Skills
Nature smart students will be enthusiastic to learn life science, through experiments, or observing natural phenomenon etc. They will be passionate to study living organisms, environmental science etc.
Students possess any of these eight learning styles or sometimes the combinations of these. By a thorough understanding on types of learners in a class, an educator can set up his/her own strategies to implement a lesson plan. These styles suggest various ways of interactive methods to students. This mapping is important as the children adopt a learning style involuntarily, but it actually shapes his success or failure in education and career.
Ultimately, learning depends on learners and the educators are an aid for them to achieve a better outcome. It is equally important to check how the students learn; along with what do they learn. As John Holt says, “Learning is not the product of teaching, learning is the product of the activity of learners”.