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Learning  Styles, Modalities and Strategies 

The children in our classes are unique in their personalities, cultural experiences and values. Different students prefer different learning environments, learning modalities and they all exhibit unique strengths, talents and/or weaknesses. If we are to be successful in leading our students through the task of learning we must provide a variety of learning approaches so that these differences can be recognized and provided for in every classroom. Understanding the different ways that children learn, interact with and process information can help us modify the way we teach so that all students have an equal opportunity to succeed.

There has been a great deal of work on  learning styles over the last 2 decades. Dunn and Dunn (http://www.learningstyles.net/) focused on identifying relevant stimuli that may influence learning and manipulating the school environment, at about the same time as Joseph Renzulli recommended varying teaching strategies. Howard Gardner identified individual talents or aptitudes in his Multiple Intelligences theories.  Based on the works of Jung, the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator and Kersley's Temperament Sorter focused on understanding how people's personality affects the way they interact personally, and how this affects the way individuals respond to each other within the learning environment. The work of David Kolb and Anthony Gregorc's Type Delineator follows a similar but more simplified approach.

Even though these approaches look at learning styles in vastly different ways they all have merit for some children. However, an amalgamation or blending of these concepts is probably more effective than any one approach.  The Dunn and Dunn approach would be most effectively applied in a building designed to accommodate environmental changes. Many classrooms offer limited opportunities to change the lighting or sound levels, to eliminate visual distracters, or to provide a more casual seating arrangement for students. Varying teaching strategies makes sure that students will occasionally learn in a manner compatible with their own learning preference but also expands their repertoire of alternative learning strategies in turn. The Multiple Intelligences Theory is very helpful for helping teachers recognize that students have differing aptitude in different subject areas, but it still requires the application of the kinds of learning strategies listed here to be effective. The MBTI and Gregorc's Style Delineator help teachers recognize how personality differences can either enhance or distract from communication between individuals.

Learning styles, learning modalities and learning strengths may be classified as sensory, perceptual, Cognitive Information Processing, personality type, personal talents or situational. 

  1. Sensory
  2. Perceptual 
  3. Cognitive Information-processing
    • Learning Style Inventory (results returned to you) (active/reflective; sensing/intuitive; visual/verbal; sequential/golbal)
         
  4. Personality 
  1. Personal Talents
  2. Situational
    Regardless of your natural learning preferences it is important to recognize that some tasks demand specialized learning modalities. 

    There is little doubt that students can modify their learning style as they mature and gain experience in a range of learning methods.  Although classroom modifications made to take advantage of student learning strengths are very valuable, it is also necessary for students to develop alternative learning strategies and thinking skills to prepare them for the tasks that require specific modalities.  The auditory learner  will periodically face problems that require a hands-on solution. Just as the visual learner will encounter problems and situations that demand the use of kinesthetic and/or auditory skills.  Consequently, we need to find a balance between building on a students' natural strengths and developing an adequate range of alternative learning strategies.

Other Learning Styles links:

Modifying Teaching Style

 

Since April 26th, 2004


 

P Theroux, Teacher,
 Alberta, Canada

Updated 11/16/2011

ptheoux@shaw.ca 

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These web pages were assembled for teachers.  There are well over 100 pages on this site and all have a similar format. All pages that vary in appearance from  this page are linking off site to the work of others.

Every effort is made to validate the educational substance of these sites.  Please remember that the dynamic nature of the Internet requires each of us to use caution when presenting web sites to students.