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Assignments For The Different Learning Styles

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Click the above link to view Word documents for all the handouts and the Instructor Manual for this chapter. 

Learning Style

The PEPS Learning Style Inventory

The comprehensive Productivity Environmental Preferences (PEPS) Learning Style Inventory produced by Dunn, Dunn & Price helps students to identify the optimum conditions for learning, achievement and creativity.  It helps students understand twenty different factors that influence their productivity and learning.  It is integrated into the Web edition and available to users of the print edition by using the access code on the inside of the front cover of the text.  Click this link for a handout,Understanding the PEPS Learning Style Inventory.

Audio, Visual, Kinesthetic and Tactile Learning Strategies

Once students have taken the learning style inventory, they can explore over 50 learning strategies that match their audio, visual, kinesthetic and tactile learning preferences with theLearning Strategieshandout.     

Learning Style Memory Exercise

This hands-one activity involves students in learning and helps them to think about their learning style.  It is a great way to introduce the idea of learning style.  To begin, briefly introduce the concepts of visual, auditory and kinesthetic/tactile learning. 

Bring 15 items to class.  Choose items that can be seen, heard and touched.  Here are some items that I have used: a yellow Frisbee, an orange tennis ball, a sea shell, a set of chimes, a tin cup, a stick, a set of Spanish castanets, a blue ceramic dragon, a ping pong ball, a football, a toy helicopter, a squirt gun, a toy spaceship, a light switch and a rock.  Place all of these items in a box.  Bring each item out of the box and pass it around in the class.  Students will have the opportunity to look at each item, feel it and hear it.  Ask them to pass the items quickly.   Tell students that they will be asked to remember each of the items at the end of the exercise. 

When all of the items have been passed around and returned to the box, have students see if they can recall all of the items and write them down on a sheet of paper.  To check the written lists, bring the items out of the box again and set them on a table or desk.   Then discuss the results:

What did you forget and why?

How did you remember the items?

Did it help you to remember the items if you could touch them?  See them?  Hear them?

How many of you think you are kinesthetic/tactile learners?  Auditory learners? Visual learners?

Was it more difficult to remember unfamiliar items such as the Spanish castanets?

How does your culture influence the items you remember?

Interesting discussion about learning styles is generated by the above exercise.   Many students realize that they are kinesthetic/tactile learners and can apply learning techniques related to this style, such as taking notes.   Here is a creative example of how one student with a visual style remembered the items.  She made up a story as follows:

We were on a camping trip.  We ate beans in a cup stirred by a paint stick.  We played Frisbee while my brother juggled a tennis ball, football, and a ping-pong ball.  My husband, the musician, played with the castanets and chimes.  A blue dragon flew by and then a space ship.  We threw a rock at the aliens and then squirted them with the water gun.  They had spiked heads like the sea shell.  We were rescued by the marines in the helicopter.  Then I flipped the light switch and realized it was all a dream. 

The Paper Airplane Exercise

For this exercise, students begin with three sheets of paper.  For the first attempt at making the paper airplane, verbal directions are read to the student.  For the second attempt, visual and written directions are given.  For the third attempt, the instructor demonstrates each step while the students fold their paper airplanes.   Then students can fly the planes.  Discussion follows about auditory, visual and kinesthetic learning styles and how this might be applied to learning in college.  For detailed instructions on doing this exercise and folding the paper airplane, click onPaper Airplane Learning Demo. 

Learning Style Group Activity: Learning Style Applications

Divide students into groups and assign these discussion questions.  Appoint a reporter in each group to summarize the group discussions for the entire class. 

1. You have just been assigned a 10 page term paper. 

2.You have to study for a challenging math test.

3.You have to write up a lab report for a biology class.  It included drawings of a frog you have

4.You are taking a required course for your major and it is taught by only one professor.  You
dislike this professor. 

5.You are taking a business class and have been assigned a group project to design a small
business.  It is worth 50% of your grade.  (Have your presentation appeal to all learning styles).

6.You have signed up for an economics course and find it difficult to stay awake during the

7. You signed up for a philosophy course to meet a humanities requirement.  The vocabulary in this
course is unfamiliar. 

8.As part of the final exam, you have to prepare a five minute presentation for your art history

Click onLearning Style Applicationsto view this assignment.                        .

Learning Style Demonstration

The instructor demonstrates these actions while having students watch and participate:  Hold out your right arm.  Make a 90 degree angle with your arm.  Touch your thumb and forefinger.  Put your fingers on your chin.  The instructor puts his or her fingers on their cheeks.  The result is pretty funny.  Visual students do what the instructor does.  Auditory students do as they hear.  Some are confused. 

Learning Style Activity: Yell, Look or Run!
If you were in a theater and smelled smoke, what would you do first?  Your actions might be a clue to your learning style.  TheLearning Style Activityhandout has directions for this exercise. 

Learning Style Quiz

Introduce the topic of visual, auditory and kinesthetic/tactile learning styles and then have your students complete the Learning Style Quiz located at the end of the chapter in the printed text.  For the online text, click theLearning Style Quizto view this file. 

Brainstorm: Learning Techniques

After completing the Learning Style Quiz, divide students into four groups according to their preferences:




            Combination Types 

Have each group brainstorm learning techniques for each of these styles and write them on the board.  Discuss these ideas with the class.  As a follow-up to this exercise, use theLearning Strategies Handout. 

Group Activity: Ideal Teacher

Explain that we often look at groups of personality traits to get a different look at personality types.  We often use these groups: SJ, SP, NT and NF.  Write your personality type on the board and circle the S or N, T or F, J or P.  Ask students to look at their personality type and see which group matches their type.  You may want to review characteristics of each type.

Divide students into groups of SJ, SP, NT, and NF.  Ask each group to discuss the characteristics of their ideal or favorite teacher and write seven adjectives to describe this teacher.  Ask for a volunteer in each group to write the adjectives on the board.  There are some adjectives that appear on all lists and seem to apply to all good teachers.  However, each group generally comes up with adjectives that reflect their particular learning style.  Here are some examples of common adjectives for each group:

SJ Ideal Teacher      SP Ideal Teacher     NF Ideal Teacher     NT Ideal Teacher

Responsible             Unpredictable           Open                         Logical thinker

In control                   Fun!                           Outgoing                   Expert

Organized                 Sense of humor        Honest                      Fair

Prepared                   Interesting                 Personal                   Clear

Precise                     On the go                  Enabler                     Freedom

Dependable              Laid-back                 Creative                    Respect

Practical                    Entertaining              Calm                          Praises ingenuity

Dedicated                 Flexible                     Empathic                   Ingenious

Experienced             Variety                       Role Model               Inventive

Take charge             Patient


To the point

This list is available in the Power Point presentation that accompanies this chapter.  Project the above list on the board and compare it to the student answers to see if there are similar words.  There usually are many similarities.

Discuss this question with the class, “What if your learning style and personality are different from the teacher’s personality and teaching style?”  There is generally a mismatch between the personalities of college teachers and students.  College teachers tend to be Introverted, Intuitive and Judging.  College students tend to be Extraverted, Sensing and Perceptive.  Perceptive students are often at risk for dropping out of college because they do not get their assignments turned in on time.  Generate a list of coping strategies (adjust, appreciate, tolerate, understand, notice your mental picture and let it go, adapt, communicate, change teachers).   It is fun to discuss how you can “psych out the teacher” by trying to understand their personality and expectations. 

Group Activity: Adapting to Different Teaching Styles

Have small groups discuss the question, “What do teachers do that you don’t like?”  Then have students suggest ways to overcome these problems. 

Learning Style Free Writing

To summarize class activities on learning style, here are some questions for a free writing session:

·Describe your learning style.

·How does your personality affect your learning style?

·How does learning style affect career choice?  For example, if you are a judging type
who is good at details and organization, what career would match this type?

Multiple Intelligences

The MI Advantage Multiple Intelligences Assessment

The MI Advantage is included in the CollegeScope Student Success Program.  This assessment takes approximately 15 minutes.  Here are the directions for administering the MI Advantage:

  • The purpose of this assessment is to identify your personal strengths and matching majors.
  • Answer the questions honestly.
  • Avoid answering with what you think you should say or what you want to be true.
  • Take the assessment when you are well rested and have time to complete it.
  • There are no right or wrong or good or bad answers.  Each person has a unique intelligence profile.
  • Answer with what comes to mind first; do not overanalyze your answers.

Multiple Intelligences Matching Quiz

Use thisMultiple Intelligences Matching Quizto review brief definitions of the different intelligences and match famous people with the different intelligences.  The second part of the quiz challenges students to give examples of famous persons with the different intelligences.  The second part of the quiz could be used as a group activity.  As a variation, set a time limit and give a prize to the group with the most examples.  At least one example from each category is required.  Note that the Existential category (Gardner's newest category) is not included in the printed textbook, but is included in CollegeScope, the MI Advantage and this exercise. 

Quiz Answers: E. Michael Jordan, bodily kinesthetic; I. Aristotle, existential; B. Martin Luther King, Jr, interpersonal; G. Sigmund Freud, intrapersonal; F. William Shakespeare, linguistic; C. Albert Einstein, mathematical; A. William James (""), musical; H. Charles Darwin, naturalist; D. George Lucas, spatial.

Multiple Intelligences Scenarios

TheMultiple Intelligences Scenarioscan be used to help students understand that multiple intelligences can be improved if they are important.  Both linguistic and mathematical intelligences are important for college success.  This exercise includes scenarios in both of these areas and challenges students to make suggestions on how to improve them.  Use this exercise for small group discussion. 

Multiple Intelligences and Learning Style

Use the handout,Learning Styles and Multiple Intelligences, to help students identify additional learning strategies based on their multiple intelligences. 

Crystallizers and Paralyzers

Each individual’s life history contains crystallizers that promote the development of intelligences.  Have students look at their highest scores on the multiple intelligences activity and write down at least two crystallizers they experienced that may have helped you to develop these intelligences.  For example, they may have been praised for your athletic skills and developed bodily kinesthetic intelligence. 

Each individual’s life history also contains paralyzers that inhibit the development of intelligences.  Have students look at their lowest scores on the multiple intelligences activity and write down two paralyzers that may have discouraged them from developing this intelligence.  For example, you may have been corrected many times on your piano lessons and gave up learning the piano.  Summarize this activity by having students write a discovery statement.  A classroom handout is available for this activity at the end of the chapter in the printed text.  For the online text, click onCrystallizers and Paralyzersto view this file. 

Multiple Intelligence and IQ

This exercise can help your students understand the difference between IQ and Multiple Intelligences (MI).  Have each student pick a number from 1-100 out of a hat.  Then have students group themselves by ranges as in an IQ scale.  If you have a small group, make the numbers 1-10, 11-20, 21-30, 31-40, 41-50, 51-60, 61-70, 71-80, 81-90 and 91-100.  Discuss the advantages and disadvantages of this kind of number system.  Discuss the concept of individuality and how no two students are alike as suggested by traditional IQ tests.  As a follow-up, have the students complete the MI Advantage.  Put each MI on a index card and arrange them from strongest to weakest.  They can return to their original number groups and share their MI results.  They will find much variety in each group. 

Other Multiple Intelligence Quizzes

The quiz, "What Do You Know about Multiple Intelligences?" can be used to introduce this topic.  It mentions famous people and challenges students to identify their primary intelligence.  Here are the answers to the quiz: 1. bodily-kinesthetic, 2. Naturalist, 3. Spatial, 4. Logical-mathematical, 5. Inter-personal, 6. Musical, 7. Intra-personal, 8. Linguistic

Here is anotherMultiple Intelligence Quizto help student identify their multiple intelligences.  To summarize the results, it has a multiple intelligence grid that students can use to record their multiple intelligences.  You can draw this grid on the board and ask students to identify their multiple intelligences.  Put their responses on the grid.  Using this grid, you can identify the predominant multiple intelligences in your class. 

Multiple Intelligence CD Rom

Howard Gardner came up with his theory of multiple intelligences by observing famous people who have contributed to society.  Show a video or CD-ROM that gives examples of these famous people.  This is a good way to begin the discussion of the value of diversity, since these examples generally represent many different cultures, ages and sexes.

Videos on multiple intelligences and a CD- ROM (Exploring Our Multiple Intelligences) are available from the Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development, Alexandria, Virginia, 22314, 800-933-2723 or 703-549-9110.

Faculty or students can find information on multiple intelligences on the Internet by typing in the name of Howard Gardner.

Teach with Multiple Intelligences in Mind

As you are thinking of different ways to present materials appealing to many different learning styles, consider how you can appeal to multiple intelligences.  For example, use music in the classroom and find ways to involve bodily-kinesthetic types in learning.  The following is an excellent book on multiple intelligences in the classroom:

Thomas Armstrong, Multiple Intelligences in the Classroom, 1994, available from the Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development, Alexandria, Virginia, 22314, 800-933-2723. Excerpts from this book are available on the CD-ROM described above, Exploring our Multiple Intelligences.

Create Your Success

TheCreate Your Successexercise helps students accept responsibility for their actions, whether positive or negative.  It is located at the end of the chapter in the printed text.  Collect this exercise and read the best ones to the class.  Maintain confidentiality by reading the examples without identifying the students’ names. 

Junkyard Genius of the Navajo Nation

As a beginning point for the discussion of "I Create It All," the Keys to Success in this chapter, have students read the article,"Junkyard Genius of the Navajo Nation."  It is an inspirational story about  Garrett Yazzie who made a solar powered heater using an old radiator and soda cans to heat his home on the Navajo reservation. 

For Online Classes:

Online Discussion Question

Comment on at least 2 of the following situations using what you know about learning style. 

1.You have just been assigned a 10 page term paper. 


One Classroom, Many Learning Styles: Strategies for Teachers

If you are a teacher, you know that no two students are the same and that every person has a different learning style. A teacher’s instruction style, therefore, can greatly impact a student’s ability to learn and comprehend.

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That’s why it is so important for teachers to assess the makeup of their class each year and utilize a variety of teaching methods to ensure that every student is afforded the same opportunity to learn and engage.

Getting Started

How does an educator go about taking on the monumental task of teaching to each individual student in the classroom, taking into account each ones learning style, challenges and needs? Start by:

  1. Getting to know your students — Find out what their interests and concerns are. Learn about who you’re working with by doing activities that are interactive. You will learn more about your students and discover what they are comfortable with.
  2. Creating a safe atmosphere for learning — It is important for teachers to create a nurturing and inclusive learning environment for students so that they understand everybody is there to learn — and most importantly, that it is not a competition. A lot of teachers today are using problem-based learning strategies that bring groups of students together to work as a team on projects. This approach allows students to try out different roles and build on their strengths.
  3. Being flexible and offering choice — Build on what you know about your students and their specific needs by tailoring your lesson plans appropriately. Build in choice to your teachings and how you require tasks to be accomplished. And provide multiple means of learning (lectures combined with videos or discussion, for example)

Teacher Centered vs. Student Centered Instruction

There are two main buckets that most teaching styles fall into: teacher centered or student centered.

Teacher Centered Approach

The teacher centered approach positions the teacher as the expert who is in charge of imparting knowledge to his or her students via lectures or direct instruction. In this approach, students are passive actors or “empty vessels”, listening and absorbing information.

This teacher centered style is the traditional approach to teaching, but it’s not necessarily the best. And as educators learn more about effective ways to engage learners of every style, the teacher centered approach is becoming more and more a thing of the past.

Student Centered Approach

The student centered approach creates more equanimity between the teacher and student, with each playing a role in the learning process. While the teacher still holds authority, he or she acts more as a facilitator, coaching students and assisting them in their learning. This approach champions student choice and facilitates connections among students. A couple styles of the student centered approach are:

Inquiry Based Style
This student centered learning style encourages independence, autonomy, and hands on learning with students leading the way and receiving guidance from their teachers.

Cooperative Style
Cooperative learning is another student centered approach that focuses on group work and social growth. Much like the inquiry based style, the cooperative style encourages independence and hands on learning but puts special importance on peer to peer work and community.

Student Learning Styles

So what are the different learning styles? According to Howard Gardner’s multiple intelligence theory, there are “distinct intelligences” or ways students learn. While it was developed over three decades ago, in 1983, Gardener’s theory still holds true today and can be applied to many modern teaching strategies such as universal design for learning (discussed below).

The seven intelligences according to Gardner are:

  • Visual-spatial
  • Bodily-kinesthetic
  • Musical
  • Interpersonal
  • Intrapersonal
  • Linguistic
  • Logical – Mathematical

The idea behind the multiple intelligence theory is not that people learn in only one way, but that people are stronger in different areas and can demonstrate their knowledge and abilities in different ways. A good teacher is able to take this knowledge and apply it to his or her teaching strategy.

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Teaching Strategies

One of the most popular teaching methods that incorporate both student centered learning and the multiple intelligences is the Universal Design for Learning (UDL). A UDL approach presents material in multiple formats in order to engage every student, including those with special needs. For example, some students may be engaged by working on a writing project where others would be more engaged if they created a play or a movie. UDL uses the basic concepts of the multiple intelligences, ensuring that every student is learning in the way that best suits their personality and style.

Furthermore, UDL emphasizes inclusivity and creating a culture of acceptance in the classroom, where every student, no matter what limitations or challenges they may face, learns that they are a respected member of the community with strengths and gifts all of their own. UDL is about teaching to every student, special needs students included, in the general education classroom, creating community and building knowledge through multiple means.

Blended Learning
Blended learning is another strategy for teachers looking to introduce flexibility into their curriculum. Blended learning relies heavily on technology, with part of the instruction taking place online and part of the instruction taking place in the classroom via a more traditional approach.

There are a variety of methods you can use to implement a blended learning approach that works best for your classroom. For example, traditionally teachers present information to students in the classroom and then students go home and do their homework. The blended learning “flipped classroom” approach, does the opposite, letting students watch a video or read a chapter as an introduction to a concept, on their own, as homework. Class time is then used as their problem-solving time, when they have support in working through the concept or can have class discussions about what they learned or read.

What it boils down to is getting to know your students from the start and building flexibility and choice into your curriculum. Getting to know every student well enough to effectively teach to them is especially challenging for high school and middle school teachers who have different students every hour. Despite the challenge, it is vital to take the time to understand each student’s learning style and develop strategies to teach to every learner. What works with one group of students might not work with the next, which is why it is important for you as an educator to have an arsenal of strategies at the ready. You need to be flexible and learn to adjust as you go.

At the University of San Diego, we offer a 100% online Master of Education with four specializations to choose from: Inclusive Learning, Literacy & Digital Learning, STEAM, and Curriculum & Instruction. To learn more about our nationally accredited program visit our program page.

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