Analyzing Student Readiness, Interest, & Learning Styles

Helping Students Succeed with Everything They Bring to the Classroom is a Crucial Part of Individualized Instruction

Under the "differentiated instruction" umbrella, there is room for individual instruction, group instruction, and more.  Whether a teacher is looking at students individually, or in small or larger groups, there is a further need to assess the general level of each student's readiness, interest, and learning styles.

Because every student learns differently, just placing students within a group or giving a student individualized attention is just the beginning.  Teachers must continue to focus on the subtleties affecting each individual student'slearning, which chiefly have to do with the following:

  1. Readiness.  What does the student bring to the class, from outside the class, that affects learning?  A teacher may assess whether or not a student has had support from home for learning the subject.  A teacher may ask whether a student has already spent time learning this subject, prior to the class.  Readiness may be affected by factors outside the direct subject matter.  For example, a teacher may assess what is generally happening in a student's home environment that affects learning.
  2. Interest.  Understanding student interst may be difficult.  Directly asking a student may not always be effective.  A teacher must often be creative in assessing the level of a student's interest in the subject.  In general, engaging the student in some kind of communication or sharing exercises can be very effective.  For example, some students may reveal theiur level of interest by writing  brief and fun essay on the subject, or speaking about it out loud to peers.  Teachers must be aware of what the student is revealing in these moments.
  3. Learning Style.  This is a subject all its own, but the teacher's job is to understand which of the established learning styles a student gravitates towards.  According to research by Martin Gardener, these include: Verbal-Linguistic, having more success learning from reading, writing, and speaking.  Logical-Mathematical, an interest in analyzing numbers, patterns, and relationships.  Visual-Spatial, a focus on visualizing information via drawings, sketches, pictures, diagrams, or similar materials.  Auditory-Musical, an attraction to melody, singing, or performing or listening to music.  Bodily-Kinesthetic, where students learn most effectively via physical movement, touch, and dynamism (moving rather than sitting still).  Interpersonal, a primary interest in interacting with others through cooperative and group approaches.  Intrapersonal, when students' do best working alone and indepndently achieving goals.  Naturalistic, which is when students get greatest energy from living things and the natural world.

Putting all of the readiness, interest, and learning styles together helps teachers develop the best plan for their students.  An educational consultant can bring knowledge of all three key factors.  The consultant can help apply these factors across the full range of students in a classroom, then develop a successful plan that works for everyone.

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