Facilitating Learning in a Classroom of Differing Styles and Strengths
Our classrooms contain all types of student learners, with differing abilities and interests. How do we synthesize the information on learning styles in order to reach the majority of our students most of the time?
- Regardless of learning style, the vast majority of students prefer a well-organized classroom with clear expectations. A clearly outlined syllabus, complete with expectations on assignments, how they will be assessed, and a schedule for the semester, is the best way to start the learning process on the first day of class.
- Flexibility in assignments and evaluation can help reach students of differing styles. Allow students to choose between 2-3 options. For example, an assignment may offer the choice of writing a research paper, creating a multimedia presentation, or working in a group on a project. On tests, include objective AND essay questions, factual and application questions, along with hypothetical and creative questions.
- Capitalize on your own strengths: personality style, thinking style, and perceptual style. Don't try to be someone else. Do what you do best.
- Variety in presentation will appeal to differing styles. Write on the board, provide handouts or overheads, use personal illustrations, stories, metaphors, stop every 5-6 sentences for a discussion question, move students around, interject a group activity or hands-on application of a concept, ask students for feedback, insert a 3-5 minute writing assignment in class. The deadliest mistake professors make is standing in one place to deliver a lengthy lecture without interruption. The most common mistake is to try to deliver too much information in one class session, not allowing time for questions or reflection or application.
- Ask for feedback. Find out whether students feel they are learning adequately and what you can do to help them learn better. Listen long enough, and students are likely to tell you how they learn best. Ways of obtaining feedback: open class discussions, 2-3 minute writing assignment at the end of class every so often, or a structured written evaluation at midterm.
Information adapted from the Institute for Motivational Living's Career Quest materials. Used with permission. All rights reserved. ©2001 Institute for Motivational Living
Note: These Cognitive Thinking Styles are based on the Institute for Motivational Living's Cognitive Thinking Style inventory. For more information, see their website at www.careerdisc.com. All information presented herein is copyright protected with all rights reserved. Information is used with permission.