Permission to reprint for classroom use. Copyright Lynn O'Brien, Specific Diagnostic Studies, Inc., Rockville, MD
Discussion of Learning Styles Inventory: Teacher Notes:
There is a growing body of evidence that shows that students do not learn in the same way. However, teachers often teach all students in the same way. All students can learn - they just learn differently. Many students who are labeled "Learning Disabled" may simply need to be taught a different way in terms of their learning style.
Learning style involves the internal structures and processes that affect how a person receives, interprets and uses information. There are three strands involved in learning style: (1) how one receives information, (2) how one processes information, and (3) what environmental preferences one has. Environmental preferences involve such things as: (a) needs bright light or prefers low light, (b) learns better in the morning or learns better in the afternoon or evening, (c) learns better in groups or learns better alone, and (d) prefers to study in quiet surroundings or prefers to study with music or other noise in the background. Knowing as much as you can about the needs of an individual student will often allow you to change the one thing that is most important to learning for that student.
There are many instruments that can help you determine the learning styles of your students - you may find that your school system has one and that there are people who will come into your classroom and administer the test for you and discuss it with your students. Start with your guidance counselors. If they do not have a test themselves, they will know whom you should contact. The fastest and easiest way to accomplish this is to use one that your system already has. The simple one that is included here includes only three areas: visual, auditory, and hepatic (pronounced with the "h" silent). Hepatic preference is often called tactile or hands on learning. The points can simply be added up in class by the students so they can see where their strengths lie. Whichever instrument you choose to use, learning preferences should be discussed with your students. Explain that no person is all one way - everyone is a mixture of preferences. Each person simply has one or two methods that are easier for them. It is important to stress that no one way is "good" and another way "bad", the learning styles are simply different. The goal here is for each student to learn in the style that is easiest for him and to contribute to the group the particular type of information in which he excels.
There are three sheets of information that are primarily for the student - one on each learning style which has suggestions for each type of learner. These should be given to the students. These are tips that will make it easier for the students to study and achieve according to his/her learning style.
Learning Channel Preference
Read each sentence carefully and consider whether it applies to you. On the line, write:
3 if often applies
2 if sometimes applies
1 if never or almost never applies
Preferred Channel: VISUAL
____1. I enjoy doodling and even my notes have lots of pictures, arrows, etc. in them.
____2. I remember something better if I write it down.
____3. When trying to remember a telephone number, or something new like that, it helps me to
get a picture of it in my head.
____4. When taking a test, I can "see" the textbook page and the correct answer on it.
____5. Unless I write down directions. I am likely to get lost and arrive late.
____6. It helps me to LOOK at a person speaking. It keeps me focused.
____7. I can clearly picture things in my head.
____8. It's hard for me to understand what a person is saying when there is background noise.
____9. It's difficult for me to understand a joke when I hear it.
___10. It's easier for me to get work done in a quiet place.
Visual Total ______
Preferred Channel: AUDITORY
____1. When reading, I listen to the words in my head or read aloud.
____2. To memorize something it helps me to say it over and over to myself.
____3. I need to discuss things to understand them.
____4. I don't need to take notes in class.
____5. I remember what people have said better than what they were wearing.
____6. I like to record things and listen to the tapes.
____7. 'd rather hear a lecture on something than have to read it in a textbook.
____8. I can easily follow a speaker even though my head is down on the desk or I'm staring
out the window.
____9. I talk to myself when I'm problem solving or writing.
____10. I prefer to have someone tell me how to do something rather than have to read the
Preferred Channel: HAPTIC
____1. I don't like to read or listen to directions; I'd rather just start doing.
____2. I learn best when I am shown how to do something and then have the opportunity
to do it.
____3. I can study better when music is playing.
____4. I solve problems more often with a trial and error, than a step-by-step approach.
____5. My desk and/or locker looks disorganized.
____6. I need frequent breaks while studying.
____7. I take notes but never go back and read them.
____8. I do not become easily lost, even in strange surroundings.
____9. I think better when I have the freedom to move around; studying at a desk is not for me
____10. When I can't think of a specific word, I'll use my hands a lot and call something a
"what-cha-ma-call-it" or a "thing-a-ma-jig."
Haptic Total _____
Suggestions for Visual Learners
You will learn better when you read or see the information. Learning from a lecture may not be
easy. Try some of these suggestions and create some more that will work for you.
* Write things down because you remember them better that way (quotes, lists, dates, etc.).
* Look at the person while they are talking. It will help you to stay focused.
* It's usually better to work in a quiet place. However, many visual learners do math with music
playing in the background.
* Ask a teacher to explain something again when you don't understand a point being made.
Simply say, "Would you please repeat that?"
* Most visual learners study better by themselves.
* Take lots of notes. Leave extra space if some details were missed. Borrow a dependable
student's or teacher's notes.
* Copy over your notes. Re-writing helps recall.
* Use color to highlight main ideas in your notes, textbooks, handouts, etc.
* Before reading an assignment, set a specific study goal and write it down. Post it in front of
you. Example, "From 7:00 to 7:30 I will read the first chapter."
* Preview a chapter before reading by first looking at all the pictures, section headings, etc.
* Select a seat furthest from the door and window and toward the front of the class, if possible.
* Write vocabulary words in color on index cards with short definitions on the back. Look
through them frequently, write out the definitions again, and check yourself.
Suggestions for Auditory Learners
You will learn better when information comes through your ears. You need to hear it. Lecture
situations will probably work well for you. You may not learn as well just reading from a book.
Try some of these suggestions and create some more that will work for you.
* Try studying with a buddy so you can talk out loud and hear the information.
* Recite out loud the thing you want to remember (quotes, lists, dates, etc.)
* Ask your teachers if you can turn in a tape or give an oral report instead of written work.
* Make tape cassettes of classroom lectures, or read class notes onto a tape. Summarizing is
especially good. Try to listen to the tape three times in preparing for a test.
* Before reading a chapter, look at all the pictures, headings, and talk out loud and tell what you
think this chapter will be about.
* Write vocabulary words in color on index cards with short definitions on the back. Review
them frequently by reading the words aloud and saying the definition. Check the back to see
if you were right.
* Before beginning an assignment, set the specific study goal and say it out loud. Example,
"First, I will read my history chapter."
* Read aloud whenever possible. In a quiet library, try "hearing the words in your head" as you
read. Your brain needs to hear the words as your eyes read them.
* When doing complicated math problems, use graph paper (or use regular lined paper sideways)
to help with alignment. Use color and graphic symbols to highlight main ideas in your notes,
textbooks, handouts, etc.
Suggestions for Haptic Learners
You will learn best by doing, moving, or hands-on experiences. Getting information from a
textbook (visually) or a lecture (auditory) is just not as easy. Try some of these suggestions and
create some more that will work for you.
* To memorize, pace or walk around while reciting to yourself or looking at a list or index card.
* When reading a textbook chapter, first look at the pictures, then read the summary or
end-of-chapter questions, then look over the section headings and bold-faced words. Get a
"feel" for the whole chapter by reading the end selections first, and then work your way to
the front of the chapter. This is working whole-to-part.
* If you need to fidget when in class, cross your legs and bounce or jiggle the foot that is off the
floor. Experiment with other ways of moving; just be sure you're not making noise or
disturbing others. Try squeezing a tennis or nerf ball.
* You may not study best at a desk, so when you're at home, try studying while lying on your
stomach or back. Also try studying with music in the background.
* If you have a stationary bicycle, try reading while pedaling. Some bicycle shops sell reading
racks that will attach to the handle bars and hold your book.
* Use a bright piece of construction paper in your favorite color as a desk blotter. This is called
color grounding. It will help you focus your attention. Also, try reading through a colored
transparency. Experiment with different colors and different ways of using color.
* When studying, take breaks as frequently as you need. Just be sure to get right back to the
task. A reasonable schedule is 20-30 minutes of study and 5 minutes of break. (TV watching
and telephone talking should not be done during break time!)
* When trying to memorize information, try closing your eyes and writing the information in the
air or on a desk or carpet with your finger. Picture the words in your head as you do this. If
possible, hear them too. Later, when trying to recall this information, close your eyes and
see it with your "mind's eye" and "hear" it in your head.
For your information explanations from a C.I.T.E. learning styles inventory published by Piney
Mountain Press Inc. are included to help you understand the differences.
AUDITORY LANGUAGE: This is the student who learns from hearing words spoken. You may hear him vocalizing or see his lips or throat moving as he reads, particularly when he is striving to understand new material. He will be more capable of understanding and remembering words or facts that he could only have learned by hearing.
VISUAL LANGUAGE: This is the student who learns well from reading words in books, on the chalkboard, charts or workbooks. He may even write words down that are given to him orally in order to learn by seeing them on the paper. He remembers and uses information better if he has to read it.
AUDITORY NUMERICAL: The student learns from hearing numbers and oral explanations. He may remember phone and locker numbers with ease, and be successful with oral numbers, games and puzzles. He may do just about as well without his math book, for written materials are not as important. He can probably work problems in his head. You may hear him saying numbers to himself, or see his lips moving as he reads a problem.
VISUAL NUMERICAL: This student has to see numbers, on the board, in a book, or on a paper in order to work with them. He is more likely to remember and understand math facts if he has seen them. He doesn't seem to need as much oral explanation.
AUDITORY-VISUAL-KINESTHETIC COMBINATION: The A-V-K student learns best by experiencing - doing, self involvement. He definitely needs a combination of stimuli. The manipulation of material along with the accompanying sight and sounds (words and numbers seen and spoken) will make a big difference to him. He may not seem to be able to understand, or be able to keep his mind on work unless he is totally involved. He seeks to handle, touch and work with what he is learning. Sometimes just writing or a symbolic wiggling of the finger is a symptom of the A-V-K learner.
Grouping Students According to Learning Styles
Before giving the students the next assignment, break them up into groups according to learning style.
REMEMBER TO COLLECT THE LEARNING STYLE INVENTORY SO YOU WILL HAVE IT.
Grouping by learning styles will facilitate the student's skills in working with others. We want
them to recognize their own strengths and weaknesses, use these strengths and weaknesses, and
accept the strengths and weaknesses of others. Hopefully, laying the ground work early will also
help with communication (1.5). Students will learn to listen to and respect the ideas of others.
Understanding that no one learning style is best should help.
Most literature suggests that groups of two or four work better than groups of three. With three
there is usually an odd man out. Try as best you can to put at least one student who predominates
in each learning style in each group. This way you have someone who listens well to verbal
instructions, someone who can visualize the experiment and one student who is good at doing the
experiment and handling the equipment. Help them understand that the group will function better
because of the contributions of each student.
FIVE ELEMENTS OF COOPERATIVE LEARNING
1. Positive Interdependence links students together so that their success in a course is dependent on one another. Group members agree on goals, problem solving strategies and answers. Frequently there are shared resources and common rewards.
Give a group only one answer sheet for the problem solution. Grade group product or give bonus points based on a group's effort. Arrange students in heterogeneous groups of mixed gender, background, and ability levels.
2. Face to Face Interaction promotes students' support for one another to learn. Have a classroom where students can physically face each other "eye to eye and knee to knee." Moveable furniture is a necessity. Traditional lecture halls hinder interactions. In physics problem solving, groups of three work best.
3. Individual Accountability requires the instructor to assess each person's individual performance. Ask questions randomly of individuals. Students wear name tags to help the instructor to know the students' names. Individual examinations assess a student'smastery of the material.
4. Collaborative Skills build leadership, trust, communications, conflict-management, and decision making skills. Students come to college with few cooperative experiences and thus frequently lack these skills. Assign specific roles to group members. Model these roles to promote these skills. Intervene and coach skills when necessary.
5. Group Processing involves an assessment by the participants of their group, what they did well and what they could do better the next time to improve the functioning group. Feedback can be formal and informal. Forms can give written feedback to the instructor on a given exercise. Focus the students' evaluation on the process of the group as opposed to the product.
In your recitation and laboratory sections for this course, you will be working in cooperative
groups to solve written and experimental problems. To help you learn the material and work
together effectively, each group member will be assigned to a specific role. Your responsibilities
for each role are defined on the chart below. Groups of three should use the first three roles.
ACTIONS WHAT IT SOUNDS LIKE MANAGER Direct the sequence of steps. "Let's come back to this later if we have time." Keep your group "On Track." "We need to move on to the next step." Make sure everyone in your "Chris, what do you think about group participates. Watch the this idea?" time spent on each step. RECORDER/CHECKER Act as a scribe for you group. Check for understanding of "Do we all understand this all members. diagram?" Make sure all members of your "Explain why you think that." group agree on plans and actions. "Are we in agreement on this?" Make sure names are on group products. SKEPTIC Help your group avoid coming "What other possibilities are to agreement too quickly. there?" Make sure all possibilities "Let's try to look at this are explored. another way." Suggest alternate ideas. "I'm not sure we're on the right track." ENERGIZER/SUMMARIZER Energize your group when motivation is low. "We can do this!" - By suggesting a new idea - Through humor; or - By being enthusiastic. "That's a great idea!" Summarize (restate) your "So here's what we've decided.." group's discussion and conclusions. Forms for Group Evaluations:
Date: ______________________ Manager: _______________ Recorder: ______________ Skeptic: _______________ Summarizer: ______________
GROUP FUNCTIONING EVALUATION
In your group take a few minutes to discuss and answer these questions about this particular
cooperative learning experience. Focus your discussion on the process--what you experienced,
felt and thought about while solving this problem as a cooperative group.
1. What are three ways you did well in functioning as a cooperative group?
2. What problems did you have interacting as a cooperative group?
3. What is one thing that you could do better the next time so that your group will function and interact more effectively?
Date______________________ Manager: _________________ Recorder: ________________ Skeptic: _________________ Energizer/Summarizer: ___________________
COOPERATIVE GROUP EVALUATION
Use the following grid to rate yourself on your participation and learning in this exercise. Also,
agree on a group rating. 0 = Poor, 1 = Fair, 2 = Good, 3 = Excellent
Manager Recorder Skeptic Energizer
Preparation for Activity
Participation in Activity
Quality of Participation
Use of Roles
Use of Problem-Solving
1. What are three things you did well in functioning as a cooperative group?
2. What is one thing you could do better the next time so you group would function better?
3. What difficulties did you encounter that hindered the functioning of your group and how did you solve them?
The Radioactive Swamp... a sample of cooperative problem solving.
How well can you work cooperatively?
groups of 4 students, 3 insulators (sheets of paper or carpet squares) an open area of at least 4 meters width, the radioactive swamp.
1. Choose one member of your lab group to have paralyzed legs.
2. As a team you must get your paralyzed team mate across the swamp without becoming contaminated.
3. You only have 3 insulators that protect you from contamination.
4. Only 1 foot may touch an insulator at a time.
5. If you touch the swamp, that part of your body becomes useless. If you fall in the swamp, you must start over again.
6. Insulators must be placed where you want them. They can not be thrown or slid.
1. In what ways did you work together as a group to reach the goal?
2. Who sacrificed a great deal to your group's success?
3. How did the presence of a paralyzed person affect the way you went about solving the problem?
4. How did the paralyzed person feel?
5. What other things did you learn from doing this activity about team work and group support?