Sriram: We have Dr. Nithya Sriram with us today to talk about different learning styles. Nithya has a degree in child psychology, and she is passionate about maths. Thank you for taking out time to interview with us. Let’s start with the first question.
What are the different types of learning styles?
Nithya: There are four basic types of learning styles—visual, auditory, reading/writing, and kinesthetic.
But, in my opinion, there’s no single learning style for a given person. One can learn different things in different ways. Let’s say you’re a visual learner, that does not mean you can learn how to drive a car just by looking at someone else driving.
I prefer to structure my classes around the Dunn and Dunn model. This model was founded by professors Rita and Kenneth Dunn. They did a lot of research and writing about their observations in the classroom. It talks about five types of stimuli that can affect a student:
Environmental: It involves asking questions about things like where students prefer to get their learning done. Is it in a cool and quiet environment or somewhere else?
Emotional: This includes elements like levels of motivation and responsibility, how much the student conforms and pursues a task until its done, and what sorts of structures are helpful for the learner.
Sociological: This has to do with how the student works best: on his or her own, in pairs, in a group, according to a specific pattern, or with more (or less) guidance from the instructor.
Physiological: This is all about how the body (in addition to the mind) responds to the learning task. That means that some students are more alert at certain times of the day based on whether they had eggs or chocolatey cereal for breakfast.
Psychological: The psychological element refers to how the learner processes and responds to information and ideas. For example, is this learner analytic and good with numbers?
Sriram: How do you determine your learning style?
Nithya: Yes, it’s possible to determine your learning style. We have already discussed five types of stimuli that can affect a student - Environmental, Emotional, Sociological, Physiological, and Psychological. You simply have to evaluate the conditions suitable for you.
For example, these days students need a chair and table for studying. They are not at all comfortable while sitting on the floor. All these conditions affect the learning outcome of children.
Sriram: What is the importance of learning styles?
Nithya: Let’s take an example. Many auditory learners may experience challenges when instructions or information are given in written form but can clearly understand them when the data is auditory. Therefore, knowing your learning style helps in plugging the areas where there is a loss of knowledge.
Sriram: What is multiple intelligence?
Nithya: Gardner, in his book “Frames of Mind: The Theory of Multiple Intelligences” suggests that all people have different kinds of intelligence. Gardner proposed that there are eight types of intelligence such as Logical-Mathematical Intelligence, Bodily-Kinesthetic Intelligence, Musical Intelligence, etc.
But in my opinion, every one of us has all types of intelligence. If a person is good at something, that means he/she has put in a lot of hard work. There’s no such thing as talent. A structured practice enhances any part of intelligence.
“Talent is nothing but the capacity for doing continuous hard work in the right way.”
Sriram: What is the relationship between learning styles and mathematics performance?
Nithya: Mathematics is nothing but receiving and processing of inputs. The reception of inputs varies from person to person. It all depends on the different kinds of learning styles. These days predominantly, everyone is a visual learner. Kids are born with a smartphone in hand. Earlier learning was more auditory based.
Different parts of math require different parts of ability. For example, the child understands the concept of a rectangle visually. It’s challenging to teach such concepts without drawing its figure.
Sriram: What is logical-mathematical learning?
Nithya: Mathematics is a logical subject. To be good at it, one needs to make connections, recognize patterns, and learn and work well with numbers. Mathematics is a subject that covers many topics like geometry, algebra, data analysis, etc. Sometimes student struggles with one particular topic, but we tend to say he/she is poor at math. It’s not like that. It’s just that he/she is more comfortable with other topics and need to spend more time on that particular topic. Teachers should help students to recognize these topics and give the required inputs.
Sriram: How is self-learning different from other styles?
Nithya: Self-learning is the ability to identify problems and quickly look for effective solutions on your own. Visual and auditory learning happens automatically. It’s a stress-free learning process.
Sriram: Can you elaborate on Strategies of Learning?
Nithya: Teachers can promote children’s learning through various methods:
By creating an anxiety-free learning environment.
At all times, the self-esteem of the child should be kept in mind.
Lucidity and simplicity in teaching.
Be responsive to any kind of question that students ask.