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Learning Styles

For the last twenty years or so, as diversity in our country has been growing, hundreds of different kinds of assessments have been developed to determine individual differences. There have been tests that determine perceptual differences, world view (i.e. field dependent and independent), learning styles, personality differences (i.e. Myers-Briggs), different kinds of talents, and different kinds of intelligence.

The results of these tests are of little value unless they can be applied to helping students to learn and teachers to teach more effectively. They can be destructive when they are used primarily to "pigeon-hole" students in their own eyes and the eyes of others.

We offer here a few of the most useful kinds of assessment. These tests are especially helpful when taken first by the teacher in order to determine his or her own profile. Thereby the teacher can guard against teaching in only that way and as a consequence making it very difficult for students who do not share a similar profile. It appears that the best use of this information is to help teachers broaden their array of teaching strategies so that students are learning at least part of the time in ways they find comfortable, and at other times in ways that stretch them into new ways of thinking and learning.


Diversity, Learning Style and Culture
Pat Burke Guild
Most educators can talk about learning differences, whether by the name of learning styles, cognitive styles, psychological type, or multiple intelligences. Learners bring their own individual approach, talents and interests to the learning situation. We also know that an individual learner's culture, family background, and socioeconomic level affect his or her learning.

A Classroom Panorama
Mark Kennedy
A teacher shares his perspective on how to reach and teach students with a diversity of learning styles.

Success by Design
Deborah Moffit
Deborah Moffit describes Interagency Academy, a public school in Seattle designed to meet the needs of its students. The article includes links to videos of Academy students voicing their thoughts on education and their own learning styles.

The Human Dynamics Body of Knowledge - and its Implications for Education: A Brief Account
Sandra Seagal, Ph. D. and David Horne, M.A.
The authors describe how Human Dynamics, a new paradigm for understanding both individual and collective human functioning, has immense implications for conducting effective education.

Unlocking the Playground in My Mind: An Educator's Story
Shelly Loewen
The author shares how her personal learning challenges and unique experience at the playground led her to develop a dynamic learning theory and assessment, addressing learners' cognitive, affective and sensory learning style values while recognizing the similarities between how people learn and how they play.

It's Not How Smart You Are....It's How You Are Smart!
Lynn O'Brien
Dr. O'Brien shares the story of how and why she founded Specific Diagnostics, Inc., a testing and research facility. She proposes that 'the single most important and yet simple thing a teacher or parent can do for students is to give them the knowledge of what their learning style is and how to use it.' She has developed some tools to help students identify their learning styles in order to best use their intelligence.

One Picture Is Worth a Thousand Words? Not Necessarily!
Harry Reinert
Harry Reinert's research into learning styles is now available on our site. You can try ELSIE, the simple assessment tool he developed for use in his classroom. Everything you need to use ELSIE is right here. One of our most requested handouts -- just one of the resources we are assembling in the Building's Toolroom.

SOI Adds Perceptual Development
Richard Tracey, Ph.D.
For 35 years, individual teachers have adapted the Structure of Intellect (SOI) instruments and methods of Dr. Mary Meeker and Dr. Robert Meeker (Meeker, 1969) to develop students' cognitive abilities on a pupil-by-pupil basis. Meeker & Meeker created the Bridges program, to unite SOI with IPP (Individualized Practice Protocol), and to develop age-suitable cognition and perception in all students, centrally managed within each school.

Recommended Reading


Armstrong, Thomas. In Their Own Way. Los Angeles: Jeremy P. Tarcher, Inc., 1987.

So Each May Learn: Integrating Learning Styles and Multiple Intelligences
by Harvey F. Silver, Richard W. Strong, and Matthew J. Perini
Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development, 2000
ISBN 0-87120-387-1

The Personal Intelligences: Promoting Social and Emotional Learning
by Launa Ellison
Corwin Press, 2001
ISBN: 0-7619-7691-4

Related Links

Support 4 Learning: Learning Styles

Many, many links to information about Learning Styles.

New Students-- New Learning Styles

An article by Charles C. Schroeder.

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