Learning Styles and Classroom Activities

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What are learning styles?

Every individual is unique and hence the way she/he approaches learning is unique. Individuals have preferences regarding the way in which they would like to learn. These are determined by the learning style of the individual. Learning styles are the ways, tendencies, preferences and conditions under which the individual learns best.

This approach to learning emphasizes the fact that individuals perceive and process information in different ways. The learning styles theory implies that how much individuals learn has more to do with whether the educational experience is geared toward their particular style of learning than whether or not they are “smart.” In fact, educators should not ask “Is this student smart?” but rather “How is this student smart?”

Some definitions of learning style

  • Learning style is a student’s consistent way of responding to and using stimuli in the context of learning.
  • Learning style is the complex manner in which and conditions under which learners most efficiently process, store, and recall what they are attempting to learn.
  • Learning style is a student’s own tendency to absorb a special learning strategy independent from the environment.

Various ways in which learning styles have been classified:-

We can say that learning style refers to the individual’s characteristics and preferences. These determine how the individual will look at his environment, how she/he would interact with the environment and how her/his learning would take place. Researchers have studied individuals and classified them on the basis of their preferred learning style in different ways. Given below are a few classifications:-

David Kolb’s Model

Type of learning style

Characteristics

Converger

Abstract conceptualization and active experimentation is dominant learning style. Good at making practical applications of ideas. Good at solving problems that require one solution. Not very emotional and tend to prefer things to people.

Diverger

Concrete experience and reflective observation is dominant learning style. Good at imagination and hence come up with innovative ideas. Emotional and get along well with people.

Assimilator

Abstract conceptualization and reflective observation is dominant learning style. Good in creating theoretical models and inductive reasoning. Interested in precise and logical development of ideas rather than its application.

Accommodator

Concrete experience and active experimentation is dominant learning style. Good in doing things than merely studying or reading about them. Ready to take risks.

Fleming’s VAK/VARK model (based on the dominant sensory organ)

Type of learning style

Characteristics

Visual or Spatial

Learn through seeing, prefer to have their own notes, enjoy writing, drawing, like to use and learn through visual presentations like concept mapping, mind mapping, organized observers.

Auditory

Learn through listening, follow instructions easily, good at memorization, benefit from traditional style of teaching-lecture method, learn from discussions.

Kinesthetic or Tactile

Learn through touch, experience or by doing, like to explore, enjoy practical assignments, good at demonstration, active, like to have hands on experiences.

Types according to the theory of Multiple Intelligence:-

Type of learning style

Characteristics

Linguistic

Love to read write and tell stories, learn best by saying, hearing and seeing words, good at spellings.

Logical

Mathematically inclined and love to solve problems and puzzles, good at categorizing, classifying, working with abstract patterns, are logical and straightforward.

Spatial

Visualizers and love to work with colours and pictures, they are creative and artistic, day dreamers.

Musical

Love music, rhythm and melody, rap and narratives help them in memorizing.

Bodily (Kinesthetic)

Constantly on the move and use body language, need active participation, lot of energy, interdisciplinary lessons are very successful with these types.

Interpersonal

Patient, understanding, empathetic and social, excellent leaders love to be with people, learn through group activities.

Intrapersonal

Love to be alone and have good understanding of their own self, strong willed, independent and original, like to work alone.

Why think about the learning styles?

One has to bear in mind that no learning style is superior or inferior. Each one has its own advantages and disadvantages. Further we all have elements of each learning style in us. But only one or two types stand out in each of us. In our class we have children with all these learning styles. It is true that we won’t be able to cater to each style every time. We need to teach our children partly in the way they prefer and partly in a less preferred manner. This is essential to balance their way of thinking and solve problems and function effectively. So we can at least try to incorporate different activities in our teaching so that we are catering to children with different learning styles. Also we can try to help each child realize what his/her learning style is and at the same time, help her/him learn along with children who have different learning styles which, in turn, will maximize their learning.

Given below is a lesson plan based on Jeremy Harmer’s ESA (Engage Study and Activate) model which tries to cater to all the learning styles. It is also an attempt to integrate topics from other subjects (here science and geography) with English. This lesson plan is an example of how effort can be taken to cater to all the three domains i.e. cognitive domain, affective domain and psychomotor domain. Since it is a language lesson, an attempt is made to focus on all the language skills: – listening, speaking, reading and writing.

Level: Upper Primary

Time duration: 40-50 minutes

Material: pictures, objects, chart sheet, job sheets, LCD projector.

Objectives:-

Knowledge and Comprehension:-

  1. Students define what natural resources are.
  2. Students differentiate between animal resources and plant resources.
  3. Students classify the various natural resources according to their types.
  4. Students tell the uses of different natural resources.

Application:-

  1. Students tell why we should use natural resources carefully.

Skill:-

  1. Students prepare a slogan for conservation of natural resources, prepare a poster giving the message of conservation of natural resources, prepare riddles on different natural resources and write an acrostic or a rap song on ‘natural resources.’
  2. Students write a skit on the ‘importance of natural resources’ and then present it to the class.

Engage

•       Teacher shows pictures/actual objects, distributes among the students  and asks following questions:-

•       Name the different things you see?

•       From where do you get them?

•       What are they called?

Study

•       Teacher explains what natural resources are.

•       Teacher displays a concept map on chart to explain how natural resources are classified as living or non living.

•       Teacher writes on the blackboard and asks students to write down.

•       Teacher shows the pictures of plants as a natural resource using the LCD projector and asks the following questions:-

•       How are plants useful to us?

•       Teacher asks students to give more examples.

•       Teacher shows the pictures of animals as a natural resource using the LCD projector and asks the following questions:-

•       How are animals useful to us?

•       Teacher asks students to give more examples.

•       Teacher shows the pictures of sun, soil, land, rock, water, air, minerals, metals,  as a natural resource and asks the following questions:-

•       How are sun, soil, land, rock, water, air, minerals, metals, useful to us?

•       Teacher asks students to give more examples.

•       Teacher shows an audio video clip on natural resources and asks students to listen carefully to the narration.

•       Teacher then asks students to explain the message in the clipping.

•       Teacher distributes various items and asks students to classify them into natural resources from plants, natural resources from animals and natural resources from sun, soil, land, rock, water, air, minerals, and metals.

•       Teacher asks students to write them in a tabular format as given below:-

Plants as a natural resource

Animals as a natural resource

Sun, soil, land, rock, water, air, minerals, metals, as natural resources.

flowers, thread, cotton, fruits,

silk cloth, eggs, honey, woolen sweater

jewellery,  coins, stones, mud pots,

 

Activate

  • Classroom activity: – Teacher gives a quiz.
  • Teacher asks students to solve the job sheets individually.
  • Teacher makes groups and gives each group a different task to do: – prepare a slogan for conservation of natural resources, prepare a poster giving the message of conservation of natural resources, prepare riddles on different natural resources and write an acrostic or a rap song on ‘natural resources.’

Extension activity: – Teacher asks each group to write a skit on the topic ‘importance of natural resources’ and then present it to the class.

Quiz: – Teacher divides the class in to four groups and conducts the quiz.

ROUND 1:- Give two uses of the following natural resources:-

Fruits, Snake, Cotton, Soil

ROUND 2:- Give reasons:-

  1. Air is called a natural resource.
  2. Bullocks are said to be useful to man.
  3. We should use our natural resources carefully.
  4. Sea is a natural resource.

ROUND 3:- Answer the following:-

  1. What do we mean by a natural resource?
  2. In what way is the sun useful to us?
  3. What is the difference between animal and plant resources?
  4. Why land is called a natural resource?

ROUND 4:- Unscramble the words:-

rceeruos, eehnyobe, nimaelrs, falylurce

ROUND 5:- Visual round

web1 smallIdentify the natural resource from which this object is made.

web2 smallWhich natural resource is used to make the above?

web3 smallWhich tree leaves do you see here? Give its use.

web4 smallWhich natural resource is used to make chalks?

Write uses of plants and minerals as natural resources in the following figures:-

web5 small

Activities for teachers:-

Activity 1:- Present the classification of natural resources using a concept map or a mind map.

Activity 2:- Write which activity in the lesson plan you liked the most giving reasons.

Activity 3:- List all the activities the students have to do in the above lesson plan. Select any of the classification of the learning styles discussed above. Enlist the activities that go under each style.

Activity 4:- Classify the activities in the lesson plan according to the language skills.

Works Cited

Kumar, Satheesh,.J. “Learning Style Based Instruction and Evolution.” Edutracks, 10.10 (June 2011): 3-6.

Mallick Mihir, Kumar and Kaur Sarabjeet. “Enhancing Teaching Through Learning Styles.” Edutracks, 10.10 (June 2011): 7-9.


Lalita Rajendra Vartak is the Principal of Adarsha Shikshan Mandali’s Adarsha Comprehensive College of Education, Karve Road, Pune. lvartak@rediffmail.com

* Article first published in FORTELL, September 2011

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