Learning Styles – 7

Some inventories don’t just provide the students with their dominant learning style, but also give them a score. If you use an inventory that does that, the score may reveal that a certain student has, for example, a visual score of 28, an auditory score of 40 and a tactile/kinesthetic score of 36. Obviously, this is a kid who would not do well with worksheets.

Another student may have a visual score of 44, an auditory score of 20 and a tactile/kinesthetic score of 12. This kid could do worksheets all day and ask for some extra ones for something to do that evening.

Once the inventories have been completed, open up the floor for discussion. The more vocal kids are going to want to call out their numbers at this point, but don’t let them. Why?

It is best to try to guess their numbers yourself. Turn it into a guessing game. They love this. If you are wrong, they especially love it. But if you get lucky and are right, they tend to believe in the inventory more and take your message about learning styles more seriously.

Actually, if you wait long enough to give the inventory, at least until enough weeks have passed by for you to observe how each of them learns, you can guess their learning style scores with amazing accuracy. Given enough time teaching the kid, I have been able guess the right score of certain students with amazing accuracy, to the delight of all, but mainly my own.

How does this guessing game work? Look at the student whose score you are guessing, put your hand on your chin, look up at the ceiling and say, for example, “OK, Jonathan, you scored a 30 on visual, a 28 on auditory and a 40 on tactile”. This would obviously be a tactile learner from what you’ve observed so far in the class. How does this affect Jonathan?

For one thing, Jonathan and how he learns becomes the subject of class discussion – the message is that he is an important part of the classroom community. Secondly, other students start to see his fidgety behavior in class as just the way he learns and not as something “bad”.

Fellow students who may have been judging Jonathan might pause and reflect about that, maybe feeling some compassion and even developing some empathy. When they start to see that all people don’t learn in the same way, they may also begin to understand that not all of their school experiences should be about looking and memorizing, and that maybe that’s not the way life is outside of school. This gives some of them hope.

Your frank explanation of the Jonathan’s scores to him and the class might sound something like this:

“Jonathan, did you know that people who learn by touching things and working with their hands are very useful in society? Tactile learners become surgeons or mechanics or agricultural workers or servers or other things like that that play very important roles in our society.”

But then you add, after making the compliment: “Now in my class the way you succeed is by listening, as we’ve discussed before in class. So, your challenge in my class this year is to try to maybe shift your high tactile score of 40 with your auditory score of 28, just in my class.



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