Varying Assignments to Enhance Student Learning Styles

Students using a microscope in a science class.
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Methods for Varying Assignments

Each student comes to your class with their own learning style strengths and weaknesses. Some will be stronger at auditory learning or learning through listening and sound. Others might find they learn better visually, gaining understanding through reading and writing.  Finally, many students will be stronger kinesthetic learners, learning better through hands-on activities.

Therefore, it is important that we present lessons to students through a variety of techniques that play to each of their strengths.

While most teachers know this and try to vary presentation techniques as much as possible, it can be quite easy to forget about changing up assignments. In other words, if your student is an auditory learner, their understanding of the material will be reflected better through an auditory method. Traditionally, we have students present us with what they have learned through written means: essays, multiple choice tests, and short answers. However, some students might do a better job reflecting their comprehension of what they have learned through either verbal or kinesthetic means. 

Therefore, requiring students to vary their responses can not only help more of them shine by working in their dominant learning style but it can also allow all students the chance to find new ways to learn.

 

Following are ideas for activities that you can have students complete in each of their dominant learning styles. Realize, however, that many of these actually play to the strengths of more than one category. 

Visual Learners

  • 'Typical' Written Activities - These include assignments like essays and short answer questions. 
  • Outlining - Students can outline a chapter in a book or other reading assignment. 
  • Flash Cards - Students can create flashcards that they can not only submit as an assignment but also use for review. 
  • SQ3R - This stands for Survey, Question, Read, Recite and Review and is quite an effective reading comprehension method. 

Auditory Learners

  • Cooperative Learning Activities - Activities that include auditory interaction between students can be quite powerful.
  • Class Discussions - Students can discuss the lesson with teacher support. 
  • Debates - Students can work in groups to debate an issue. 
  • Recitations - Having students memorize and recite poetry or other readings also has the added benefit of helping improve their memory. 
  • Musical Activities - Students can use music in a number of ways. For example, in an American History class, students might find songs that represent the turmoil of the 1960s protests. You might also have students write their own lyrics to songs as a way to present the information that they have learned. 

Kinesthetic Learners

  • Dramatic Presentations - Having students present their information through a play or other dramatic presentation not only helps kinesthetic learners, but also auditory learners as well. 
  • Speeches With Props  - Students can stand before the class and speak about a topic while using props. 
  • 'Teacher' for the Day Activities - Give students parts of a lesson that they are to 'teach' to the rest of the class. You can choose to have the students work individually or in small groups. 
  • Simulations - Getting students moving around the classroom as they simulate an event like a presidential election can build interest and excitement in learning. 
  • Manipulatives - Students enjoy being able to use manipulatives in classes like mathematics and science.
  • Incorporating Dance or Exercise - While this might not work in some classes, allowing students the ability to choose to incorporate dance or exercise as a method of lesson presentation can open up a whole new avenue of learning. 
  • Outdoor Activities - Students can be given assignments that require them to go outside and move around.  

    Obviously, your subject matter and classroom environment will impact which of these would be the best fit for your students. However, I challenge you to move outside your comfort zone and try to find a way to not only represent lessons while incorporating all three learning styles, but also giving students' assignments and activities that allow them to use different learning modalities as well.