Teaching Diverse Learners

Tileston (2004) notes that society identifies intelligence by looking at those who can synthesize information quickly, process it efficiently, and retrieve it from long-term memory when needed.

Those who take in information slowly but retrieve it quickly are often labeled as overachievers.

Those who take in information quickly but retrieve it slowly are often labeled as underachievers.

This has ramifications for the different students we work with because of learning styles which are reflected in these groups which have been observed, researched and measured.

Perhaps we need to consider how students learn

Sousa (1995) describes three modalities, or ways of learning that students have a preference for which have been shown to work well for different types of learners: auditory, visual, and kinesthetic.

Auditory learners, make up the smallest group of learners we encounter (roughly 20% of students). These students remember information which is heard and like being lectured in a traditional format. They “hear what you are talking about”. Auditory learners work well when there is:

-Direct instruction
-Peer tutoring
-Activities which incorporate music
-Group discussions and brainstorming
-Specific oral directions
-Verbalizing while learning
-Cooperative learning (student interaction)

Visual learners make up the largest group of learners in the classroom. These are students who need to see information in order to understand how things work. They will “believe it when they see it”. Teachers for these learners should use organizers which do not demand a great deal of speech, such as concept maps. Visual learners:

-Have difficulty understanding oral directions
-Experience difficulty remembering names
-Enjoy looking at books or drawing pictures
-Watch the teachers face
-Like to work puzzles
-Notice small details
-Like for the teacher to use visuals when teaching
-Like the use of concept maps, prediction trees, and mind maps

Kinesthetic learners are those who need movement and touching in order to become engaged in learning. Typically, these are the students who are often-off task, talking to peers, or attempting to manipulate equipment. Their slogan is “If you want me to do it, then give it to me and let me work on it”. Thus, they learn by doing. kinesthetic learners also:

-Need to be mobile
-Want to experience through the five senses
-Usually have good motor skills and are athletic
-Like to take things apart to see how they work
-May appear immature for their age group
-May be hyperactive learners
-Need a hands-on approach to learning
-Like cooperative learning

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