Establishing Learning Style/s
How do you establish the preferred learning style for each student in your class? I've used the following questionnaires, in conjunction with information from the learner, to ascertain each learner's preferred mode.
- VARK - A Guide To Learning Styles You have a variety of questionnaire choices e.g. adult, youth and a selection from other languages. Learners can complete these online or you can download a printable version. You will need to assist learners who have a lower reading skill level, as the language is geared to an independent reader. Don't let this stop you using this tool, as I have been able to implement this questionnaire with non-readers and attain appropriate outcomes for that learner. This has been accomplished through tutorial and peer assistance. Depending on the learner's background, you may need to explain some situations that are mentioned in the questions / statements.
MEMLETICS - Learning Style Questionnaire Prior to commencing this online questionnaire, I suggest you review the Overview Of Learning Styles with your students. The learning styles are broken down into seven groups and offer broader categories than other questionnaires I've trialled. Completing the questionnaire may take some time as there are 70 questions. You will need to support readers with low level reading skills, but overall the language is appropriate for readers who are assessed at Level 2+ ACSF (Australian Core Skills Framework). I have also used the questionnaire recording system for numeracy activities e.g. finding the mean/average, writing response totals as fractions and percentages of total responses, developing a graph and totalling scores.
- VAK Learning Styles Self-Assessment Questionnaire You will need to download and print this questionnaire from Swinburne University of Technology. It has thirty straightforward questions, but you would still need to assist beginner readers or those with low reading level skills. However, I do think adult learners in numeracy, literacy and ESL classes would find the most of the questions relevant to their daily lives.
Edutopia What's Your Learning Style - Take the quiz This quiz is completed online and is only requires selecting checkboxes on a continuum. The results are presented in a graphical format with percentages. There is a significant difference between this and other quizzes because they break the learning styles into the following groupings - Linguistic, Logical-Mathematical, Visual-Spatial, Intrapersonal, Interpersonal, Musical, Bodily-Kinaesthetic and Naturalistic. One great aspect of this quiz is the Tips for they way you learn section. I found this a refreshing way to look at my learning style and ways to utilise my skills.
Theory Into Practice
You've helped students establish their learning styles, now what? Now you need to look at how you learn and question whether this style is being predominantly used for delivery. "Just as the learner has a favoured learning style, the teacher has a preferred teaching style. Your teaching style has a powerful effect on the dynamics of their learning experience and you should adapt it or adopt other styles that are appropriate to the purpose of your teaching, accordingly." (Cited: http://bit.ly/pvzhOH) Ruth Chambers (Your Teaching Style, 2007) suggests reflection through asking yourself questions is a great start when adapting your delivery style to the needs of the learner.
• What am I trying to achieve, what are my objectives?
• What are the learners’ objectives?
• Is this the best way of achieving them?
• What other ways are there of achieving them?
• What are the strengths of the way I have chosen?
• What are the potential weaknesses that I will have to be on guard for as a facilitator?
• How will I know that this way is the most appropriate way – for me and my learners?
• How will I assess whether the objectives have been achieved?
Example - Plastic Bag Maths
(Complete form below for Copy of student worksheets.)
There are multiple objectives for this activity.
1. Constructing a square metre.
2. Recording the steps by taking photos.
3. Using photos to develop a flowchart of construction process.
4. Discussing environmental issues.
5. Reading & comprehending impact of plastic bags on the environment.
6. Problem solving
7. Estimating and calculating the mass of a single plastic grocery bag.
8. Extrapolating mass from one bag to number used per year (presently only Australian based).
9. Measuring length of single bag and calculating the distance plastic grocery bags used in one year would cover. Show on map.
10. Calculating area of a bag and the area plastic grocery bags used in one year would cover.
11. Watching videos on the issue.
12. Developing own action plan and producing a PowerPoint Presentation.
From this list of objectives it is apparent that all learning styles are catered for in this one activity. This in depth problem based learning activity provides all learners with opportunities to apply strategies or learn new strategies that support their learning style. To support this delivery style I'm made a list of materials that you will need on hand.
What to have on hand 24/7!
To assist you with delivering a universally designed learning program, here is a list of materials I always have on hand.
> access to computers and internet
> data projector
> digital cameras - students may not have mobile (cell) phone with camera
> concrete materials for developing mathematical concepts - tiles all shapes and sizes / playdough or modelling clay / colourful wool or string / (I always had a stash of plastic clip lock bags filled with various materials to assist with measurement / fractions & percentage activities.)
> coloured paper - visual learners find colour a stimulating way to group facts / topics or locate information readily
> highlighter pens - as above
> earphones - learners can independently listen to audio recordings
> electronic spellcheckers / dictionaries
> butcher's paper
> board and card games - used for developing numeracy & literacy skills and games / interpreting & writing instructions / discussions / surveys
> at least 10 clones of yourself and tutor
The video below outlines the basic principles of teaching adults. Incorporate these principles, learning styles and teaching delivery to engage your learners.