Dunn and Dunn (1992), among those who
conceptualized students’ learning styles, define learning styles as the way
"each learner begins to
concentrate on, process and remember new and difficult information" (p. 2). Only by examining each individual’s
multidimensional characteristics, can we identify that person’s learning style
( Dunn, Dunn, & Price, 1989). According to Gremli (1996), “an individual’s
learning style is the way that person begins to process, internalize and
concentrate on new material” (p. 24).
Each person learns in a unique way. There are similarities, of course,
but “every person has a learning style – it is as individual as a finger-print”
(p. 24). Howard Gardner's (1993) theory
regarding the nature of intelligence stresses the importance of not
viewing intelligence as a uni-dimensional construct, like the
but rather as a series of independent intelligences: (a) verbal/linguistic, (b)
logical/mathematical, (c) visual/spatial intelligence, (d) bodily/kinesthetic,
(e) musical/rhythmic, (f) interpersonal, (g) intrapersonal, and (h)
of Observable Behaviors
Characteristics of student
learning the teacher needs to take into account
1. Verbal /Linguistic Intelligence:
2. Logical/Mathematical Intelligence:
- Asks lots of questions
- Enjoys talking
- Has a good vocabulary
- Can pick up new language easily
- Enjoys playing with words (e.g., word games, puns, rhymes)
- Enjoys reading
- Likes to write
- Understanding the functions of language
- Can talk about language skills
- Is good at memorizing names, places, dates, and trivia
3. Visual /Spatial Intelligence:
- Enjoys solving puzzles
- Plays with numbers (counting)
- Wants to know how things work
- Is oriented toward rule-based activities
- Is interested in "if...then" logic
- Likes to collect and classify things
- Is analytical in approach to problems
- Does well at math, reasoning, logic, and problem solving
4. Bodily/Kinesthetic Intelligence:
- Likes to draw
- Likes to take things apart
- Likes to build things
- Enjoys puzzles
- Likes to doodle
- Has a keen eye for detail
- Has a good sense of parts to the whole
- Is mechanically adept
- Remembers places by descriptions or images
- Can interpret maps
- Enjoys orienteering
- Is good at imagining things, sensing changes, mazes/puzzles, reading maps and charts
5. Musical/ Rhythmic Intelligence:
- Has a good sense of balance
- Has a good sense of rhythm
- Is graceful in movement
- "Reads" body language
- Has good hand-to-eye coordination
- Can solve problems through doing
- Can communicate ideas through gesture
- Has early ease in manipulating objects (e.g., ball, needle)
- Is good at physical activities (e.g., sports, dance, acting) and crafts
6. Interpersonal Intelligence:
- Is sensitive to sound patterns
- Hums tunes
- Taps or sways in rhythm
- Discriminates among sounds
- Has a good sense of pitch
- Moves rhythmically
- Captures the essence of a beat and adjusts movement patterns according to
- Remembers tunes and sound patterns
- Seeks and enjoys musical experiences
- Plays with sounds
- Is good at picking up sounds, remembering melodies, noticing
pitch/rhythms, and keeping time
7. Intrapersonal Intelligence:
- Demonstrates empathy toward others
- Is admired by peers
- Relates well to peers and adults alike
- Displays skills of leadership
- Works cooperatively with others
- Is sensitive to the feelings of others
- Acts as a mediator or counselor to others
- Is good at understanding people
- Is good at organizing communicating, and sometimes manipulating people
- Can express strong like or dislike of particular activities
- Can communicate feelings
- Is aware of strengths and weaknesses
- Is confident of own abilities
- Sets appropriate goals
- Works toward ambition
- Is good at understanding self and focusing inward on feelings and dreams
- Is good at following own instincts
- Is good at pursuing own interests and goals
- Likes being original
8. Naturalistic Intelligence:
9. Immediate Environment: effect of
sound, light, temperature,
10. Emotionality: student’s own motivation,
11. Sociological Preferences: effect of learning alone or in
12. Physiological Characteristics: effect of when and
learn--time of day, food and drink,
energy levels, and mobility
13. Processing Inclinations: global, analytical, right/left,
R., & Dunn, K. (1992).
Teaching secondary students through their
individual learning styles: Practical approaches for grades 7-12.
Boston: Allyn and Bacon.
Dunn R., Dunn K., & Price, G.
E. (1989). Learning style inventory. Lawrence, KS: Price Systems.
Dunn, R., & Griggs, S.
A. (1995). Learning styles: Quiet revolution in
American secondary schools.
Westport, CT: Praeger.
Gardner, H. (1993).
Frames of mind: The theory of multiple
intelligences /10th Anniversary Edition. New York: Basic Books.
Gremli, J. (1996). Tuned in to learning styles.
Music Educators Journal, 83, 24-27.
Verbal/Linguistic Intelligence: Grades
To accommodate students'
verbal/linguistic intelligence, a teacher initiates a “Vocabulary Bank” to
connect new concepts with prior knowledge.
Using a unit of study in which previous vocabulary words form a foundation
for the next lesson, the teacher writes on the overhead or board four to seven key
vocabulary words that students learned in previous units. The class reviews the definitions and discusses
the importance of these words in the upcoming lesson or unit. Students are then invited to start a
vocabulary section in their journals or notebooks. After reviewing the first set of words, the class identifies
four to seven new key words and definitions to be studied in the lesson or unit. Students are encouraged to use their own
words (and drawings if appropriate) to record meanings (Bellanca, 1997, p. 2).
Intelligence: Grades 4-7
In this activity called "Math
Jigsaw," students complete a variety of math practice problems
presented in a lesson. This can be
done before independent practice with students who benefit from sequential,
step-by-step instruction or from working in a mixed-ability group. After providing direct instruction on a math
topic, the teacher divides the class into pairs or trios and assigns practice
problems to each group. The teacher
coaches each group, insisting that all group members know how to explain their
problem-solving methods, step by step.
Concepts that need more clarification are retaught, highlighting the
correct procedure (Bellanca, 1997, p. 62).
3. Visual/Spatial Intelligence: Grades 5-8
"Web Check" is designed to
help 11- to 14-year-old students build on prior knowledge by learning more about a
topic or concept. It can be used at the
beginning of a new lesson, topic, unit, or semester. From materials the teacher assembles, cooperative groups of
three to five students are asked to select four to six resources to reflect
different aspects of the
topic. Students review the materials
and make two lists: what they know and what they want to know about the
topic. Each group then uses its list to
create a newspaper or magazine ad, “selling” the study of the topic. The teacher
posts the ads and discusses
their content (Bellanca, 1997, p. 116).
4. Bodily/Kinesthetic Intelligence: Grades 4-6
An activity named "Back to the
Future" will help students review prior knowledge and connect it to a new
topic by constructing a time-travel machine. This activity can be used at the
beginning of a course or major unit.
Materials needed are construction paper and art materials (crayons,
scissors, glue), toothpicks, clothesline, and clothes pins. Working in cooperative groups of
four to six, the
students are provided with low-cost materials for constructing a time-travel
machine. Each group chooses a year from
the past or future. Using their
textbooks and other resource materials, students explain in a one-page
description how the information they learned relates to their selected year and
how it could help others. The teacher can string a clothesline across the front
of the room and attach each group’s description where it belongs along the time
line (Bellanca, 1997, p. 162).
5. Musical/Rhythmic Intelligence: Grades 3-4
The teacher can address
musical/rhythmic intelligence using an activity called "Recall Rap"
to help students understand how musical
instruments produce sound and how the sound becomes music. A guest musician is invited to the class to
demonstrate and discuss his or her instrument.
After the demonstration, the teacher and students create a list about
the instrument and how it works. Using this list to develop criteria for
student-created instruments, the teacher invites students to bring in materials
and work in groups to make instruments similar to the demonstrated one. After creating
an instrument, each group shows its instrument and explains its features in relation to the criteria
and the original instrument (Bellanca, 1997, p. 214).
Intelligence: Grades 4-6
The "Teamwork Collage"
activity helps students learn the individual behaviors that contribute to
teamwork and the values of teamwork. Supplies include magazines, posterboards,
scissors, and glue. The teacher forms heterogeneous groups of three students each
and gives each group a set of magazines, scissors, glue, and two sheets of
posterboard. Each group is to use the
materials to make two collages: one showing teamwork and one showing individual
performance. After the groups are done, the teacher posts the collages and ask
volunteers from each group to explain their choices (Bellanca, 1997, p. 264).
Intelligence: Grades 6-7
In this “Autobiography” activity,
students examine the
characteristics of and write an autobiography. Students can
use the activity throughout a lesson or unit to expand their writing abilities.
They first study an appropriate sample autobiography, identifying its characteristics,
such as personal
story, interesting pace, connected incidents, and influence of background. They
use a sequence chart or time line
to model an arrangement of important life events. The teacher can also invite
students to write and sequence their life histories, explaining sequencing
events by using a chart or time-line event (Bellanca, 1997, p. 360).
Intelligence: Grades 2-3
The “Gardening Project" lets students create and care for a garden, using a botany unit integrated with
mathematics and language arts. Materials/supplies needed are open land or
garden plots, seeds or seedlings, gardening tools, string, and fertilizer. The
class uses a prior knowledge identifier to determine what students know
about gardens, to introduce the project, to create a class garden, and to
brainstorm what they might learn from the whole experience. Working in groups of
preview the group tasks, which include measuring the plot, laying out the plot
for four items (by rows or quarters);
selecting what they will plant and how; and identifying appropriate
roles or tasks for each group member.
The teacher provides students with a selection of seeds or
transplants (four types per group) and gives them planting and watering
instructions. Students prepare the soil and design the plots. The
teacher encourages students to record information about their gardening activities
in a gardening journal. Students have
to make weekly visits to the plots to thin plants, tend the soil, weed, water,
and fertilize. They also have to harvest the crops and send samples home. They
revisit the goals of the project and make a class list of what was learned (Bellanca, 1997, p. 372).
9. Immediate Environment:
For a personal communication class, a teacher
circle or semi-circle arrangement to give each student contact with every
other student in class (Forte & Schurr, 1994).
Lighting in a classroom is also
important. A teacher can redesign conventional classrooms with cardboard boxes
and other usable items placed perpendicular to the walls to create quiet,
well-lit areas and, simultaneously, sections for controlled interaction and
soft lighting. The teacher might try
turning off the lights and reading in natural daylight with underachievers
or whenever the class becomes restless (Forte & Schurr, 1994).
Furniture design is another
important element. For instance, a teacher can permit students who want to do so
to work in chairs, on carpeting, sitting in bean bags or on cushions, or seated
against the walls as long as they pay attention and perform as well as or
better than they had previously (Forte & Schurr, 1994).
10. Emotionality: Grade 6
Liz is a highly motivated and
persistent student. She does not require
external structure and sometimes prefers to provide her own structure.
For instance, for history class students are assigned to make a
PowerPoint presentation about an important European city. However, Liz has her own ideas about how to
do the presentation. In this case, the teacher needs to
determine how to work with a student who imposes her own structure and doesn’t
want to conform to class guidelines for the project.
The teacher decides to speak to Liz
collegially and not address her in an authoritative or directive tone. He says, “Liz, it is important to me that
you make this presentation. Before
doing this, please search the Internet for information about that town. I know you can progress faster than most
students, and I do not want you to become bored. However, if you do not find the material interesting, speak with
the librarian, who may be able to help you find multimedia on this topic. Or, you could see if our local museum has
information that we don’t have in our school library. Also, if you prefer, you
can translate the material into a videotape and that might make the topic very
interesting. Which of these alternatives makes sense to you?”
The teacher gives the
student choices in order to get the project done. This seems to work for this student, who
is responsible but nonconformist.
Preferences: Grades 3-4
A teacher can construct a chart to
show what students think team members are like when they go through each of the
following stages: forming, storming,
norming, performing, and adjourning. It
has been said that a successful team in science or any other subject must go
through these five developmental stages to function and complete the
assigned task. Each of these stages has its own set of behaviors or
characteristics (Forte & Schurr, 1994).
Characteristics: Grades 4-6
To assure mobility while learning
(as one example of a psychological characteristic), one science teacher requires
that each student hold the name of an element in one hand. When she calls out
a compound, the two who hold its component parts are required to come forward
and place their signs together on the blackboard to signify that a combination
of the chemicals forms that compound.
For example, hydrogen (H) + chloride (CL) = hydrogen chloride (HCL).
For children who need food or drink
while they concentrate, a teacher could permit them to bring raw vegetables
to school. However, students need to
understand firm rules: They must not make loud noises while eating, and they
must throw away any food or
drink leftovers so no food items remain in the classroom (Tingley-Michaelis, as
cited in R. Dunn & K. Dunn, 1992).
Inclinations: Grades 4-7
Students could design an
experiment to demonstrate which freezes first--hot or cold water. Students can find clues
to this mystery in library books that describe air as an insulator, heat
gradient, volumes of cold and hot water in equal containers, and the
evaporation of hot liquids. Students
also could visit or call a company that manufactures ice cubes commercially
to find out why their ice cubes are clear whereas most people's refrigerators
produce ones that are cloudy (Dunn & Dunn, 1992).
Bellanca, J. (1997).
Active learning handbook for the multiple
intelligences classroom. Arlington Heights, IL: IRI/Sky Light
Training and Publishing.
Dunn, R., & Dunn, K.
(1992). Teaching secondary students
through their individual learning styles: Practical approaches for grades 7-12.
Boston: Allyn and Bacon.
Forte, I., & Schurr,
S. (1994). Interdisciplinary units and projects for
thematic instruction. Nashville, TN: Incentive Publications.