Learning Styles and Multiple Intelligences: Not just for students and teachers
One of the most valuable trainings I had in my nearly twenty-five years of working as an English Language Acquisition/English Language Learners teacher (ELL) (Bio) was the Learning Styles and Multiple Intelligences classes provided by Harvey Silver, of Silver, Strong & Associates. The knowledge I gained helped me better plan for, and interact with students and others. The information has also helped with character development in my novels. Now that I know what to watch for, it is quite fascinating to observe how people in my sphere interact with each other based on their learning styles.
In his Questioning Styles and Strategies: How to Use Questions to Engage and Motivate Different Styles of Learners Harvey states, “Since every answer must be discovered (by collecting data) and constructed (by arranging data), every answer is a combination of one of the collecting functions (sensing or intuiting) and one of the arranging functions (thinking or feeling). This combination of functions produces four different styles of thinking, with each style being naturally drawn to specific mental operations.”
According to the text:
The MASTERY learner’s style combines sensing’s focus on details, with thinking’s objectivity. The preferred mental operations include remembering, sequencing, and practicing.
The UNDERSTANDING learner’s style combines the big-picture focus of intuition with the objectivity of thinking. The preferred mental operations include reasoning, interpreting, and proving.
The INTERPERSONAL style combines the detail-orientation of sensing with the subjectivity of feelings. Preferred mental operations include empathizing, relating personally, and exploring feelings and values.
The SELF-EXPRESSIVE style combines intuition’s focus on pattern-finding with feeling’s subjectivity. Preferred mental operations include creating, imagining, and synthesizing.
Knowing my style (Understanding/Mastery) and the preferred styles of my ELL students helped me to ask better questions and to plan more effective lessons. Sharing this information with a homeschooling mom helped her better understand her children and how they will typically react in different situations.
Researcher Howard Gardner viewed intelligence as ‘the capacity to solve problems or to fashion products that are valued in one or more cultural setting’ (Gardner & Hatch, 1989). Basically, there’s more to being intelligent than having academic smarts.
People with Verbal-Linguistic Intelligence are good at using words to explain, persuade, describe, or create images. They can show comprehension and insight after reading or listening.
A person with Logical-Mathematical Intelligence notices patterns and underlying causes. She likes to question, test, and argue, and is often comfortable working with numbers, data, and abstract ideas.
Those with Spatial Intelligence are often seen drawing, sketching, or doodling while they thing. They use visual language like “I see what you mean,” to describe their thinking and, as you might guess, they probably like art projects. Others with Musical Intelligence often hum, whistle, or tap to a beat while working or thinking. I had one student like this in class, and he would make the others crazy with his drum beats on the table.
Many of my students had Bodily-Kenesthetic Intelligence, a.k.a. they were “hands-on learners.” They needed to physically be involved in learning and wanted to move around a lot. Can you visualize how annoying this might be to a teacher who did not appreciate this style of intelligence?
Then there is Interpersonal Intelligence. These learners like group activities and try to make other members feel comfortable. They participate during discussions and like to bounce ideas off others.
Those with Intrapersonal Intelligence are able to reflect on their own thinking processes. They usually trust their personal instincts and are self-directed. They can set goals and develo plans to cary them out.
When I was at a writers conference in Estes Park, Colorado, many school children were there at the same time. They demonstrated Naturalist Intelligence. These learners show interest in plants, animals, and natural objects, and they love being outside.