Posted on Thursday, February 27, 2014 by Diane Mitchell, Curator of Education & Collections
Did you do well in school? Or looking back, do you feel that despite your skills and intelligence, you just didn't do that well in your grades? Perhaps your learning style just didn't suit the traditional school model.
There are many different theories of learning styles, or in other words, the way in which we learn best. The theory I favour most is Gardner's Theory of Multiple Intelligences. It's a theory that's easy to understand and easy to see yourself in. In one of our recent posts we looked at this - why Museums are great places to cater to different learning styles. In this new post, we want to take it a step further to let you discover which of these learning styles fits you best.
This theory was first proposed by Howard Gardner in 1983. It's been amended and updated since, but he essentially proposed that we all have a preferred set of learning styles.
- Interpersonal - Works well with others, responding quickly to changes in mood. Enjoys discussions and group work, being good at giving and receiving feedback.
- Intrapersonal - Self-motivated with a high degree of self–knowledge. Likes time for quiet reflection and the opportunity to develop thoughts and to express them.
- Linguistic - Sensitive to the meaning of words, to their order, their sounds, rhythm and inflection, and to their capacity to change mood, persuade or convey information.
- Mathematical & Logical - A problem solver that can construct solutions non-verbally. Readily sees patterns and relationships and likes information to be sequenced logically.
- Visual & Spatial - Very good visual recall. Likes visually presented information such as charts, images, keywords and maps.
- Kinesthetic - Can use the body in highly differentiated and skilled ways. Learns best by doing, where physical movement aids memory.
- Musical - Good auditory recall. Responds well to a variety of sounds including music, environmental and the human voice.
- Naturalist - Enjoys being outside and notices patterns and rhythms in nature. Has a strong sense of what is fair and wants to think through the impact of actions on others.
Even by reading these categories, perhaps you can see yourself in one or more of them. A great questionnaire
though from Inspiring Learning by the UK's Museums, Libraries and Archives Council
takes it a step further. We have reproduced the questionnaire here.
Score between 0 and 3 for each of these statements. You will need to write down your answers along with the question number.
0 = This does not represent me at all
3 = This statement strongly represents me
1. I am able to explain topics which are difficult and make them clear
2. I have a good sense of direction
3. Charts, diagrams, visual displays are important for my learning
4. I always do things one step at a time
5. I am sensitive to the moods and feelings of those around me
6. I have a good sense of balance and enjoy physical movement
7. I keep or like pets or other domestic animals
8. I need to see something in it for me before I want to learn something
9. I enjoy being outdoors and am comfortable there
10. I learn well from talks, lectures and listening to others
11. I learn best when I have to get up and do it for myself
12. I can pick out individual instruments in complex musical pieces
13. I enjoy crosswords and logical problems
14. I have a natural ability to sort out arguments between friends
15. I remember things like telephone numbers
16. I enjoy working or learning independently
To determine your learning style, transfer your scores to the following and total them up. The higher the score, the more you suit that learning style.
Interpersonal - Q 5 + 14 =
Intrapersonal - Q 8 + 16 =
Linguistic - Q 1 + 10 =
Mathematical and logical - Q 4 + 13 =
Visual and Spatial - Q 2 + 3 =
Kinesthetic - Q 6 + 11 =
Musical - Q 12 + 15 =
Naturalist - Q 7 + 9 =
It's not an exact science, but do you feel the results made sense to you and described you well?
At school, there has been, especially in years gone by, more of a focus on certain learning styles such as linguistic, visual/spatial and mathematical/logical. Thinking about the model above, it's no surprise that some people just don't do well at school, despite being quick-minded, intelligent people. They just don't learn best in that way, but yet flourish when they have the chance to learn in a different way.
Museums too fell foul of learning styles in years gone by. Endless cases of objects, with endless panels or labels of text. Today though, museums spend a lot of time trying to cater their exhibits and activities to different learning styles. It's not always easy to do with often limited resources, but next time you're in a gallery or exhibit, take a look round to see how this has changed.
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