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 possesses different traits, from walking to eating. The phrase ‘Learning styles’ itself signals that there are different types of learners. The way a student may gather, compose, comprise, assimilate and apply knowledge will be unique. I have seen kids who are ‘write’ the letters but ‘draw’ them. The outcome is the same, but the way they follow to learn a concept is 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. One should take students’ learning levels and styles depending on their environmental, emotional, and subjective (cognitive) background into consideration. 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’s 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 the learning styles of students. Gardner differentiates the students’ learning according to their skills, strengths, and knowledge accumulation strategies. For example, there will be students who understand everything through verbal orations in a class, and there will also be 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 easily identified by doing a simple SWOT analysis. Students prefer learning modes that have a large influence on their behavior. They are also likely to choose the learning style that matches their own 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 videos 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 communication skills help them work within a group and understand the severity levels of co-learners.
- Self Smart- Intrapersonal Skills
This type of student is generally misunderstood as shy, but they are organized and self-sufficient in reality. 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 an affinity to music.
- Body Smart- Kinesthetic Skills
Children who have this skill will learn things better through action or movement. They require physical activities to understand better about things. For example, action plays, role-plays, etc., can grab their attention, thus helping their learning process.
- Nature Smart- Naturalistic Skills
Nature smart students will be enthusiastic about learning life science through experiments, observing natural phenomena, etc. They will be passionate about studying living organisms, environmental science, etc.
Students can possess any of these eight learning styles or sometimes the combinations of these. With a thorough understanding of the types of learners in a class, an educator can set up his own strategies to implement a lesson plan. These styles suggest various ways of interactive methods to students. This mapping is important as children adopt a learning style involuntarily, but it actually shapes their success or failure in education and career.
Ultimately, learning depends on learners, and the educators help them achieve a better outcome. It is equally important to check how the students learn and what they learn. As John Holt says, “Learning is not the product of teaching; learning is the product of the activity of learners.”