Many students choose to attend APUS because the University fosters differing educational styles and empowers the students through education. The Student Handbook states, “The University System fosters an environment that promotes a life of learning for its constituents and uses feedback from its participants and supporters to improve the quality of its teaching, learning, and support… The University System anticipates and adapts to its changing environment and responds to the needs of the organization and its constituencies in manners both appropriate and timely.” In the beginning of College 100, students are introduced to the different learning styles and the theory of multiple intelligences. By becoming familiar with other students learning styles and exploring the multiple intelligences students became more tolerant towards others and were able to strengthen their learning power. Being familiar with multiple intelligence theory, knowing the different learning styles, utilizing appropriate classroom methods, and exploring the interdisciplinary classroom will empower students towards a lifetime of learning.
Recognizing the multiple intelligence theory is the first step in capturing the different learning styles. “Howard Gardners multiple intelligence theory (Gardner, 1993) proposes the idea that we all have various levels of intelligence across a range of intellectual areas” (Pritchard, 2008). The concept that people learn in different ways, and perceive and learn by different methods is what makes up the theory of multiple intelligences. There are at least nine different intelligences in which people display in varying ways (Pritchard, 2008). The styles are as follows: linguistic, logical/mathematical, musical, spatial/visual, kinesthetic, interpersonal, intrapersonal, naturalistic, and existential (Pritchard, 2008). Student’s particular academic strengths have a direct impact on how effective their learning will be for their overall education. When applying multiple intelligences to the classroom, it is very important to cater to all the types of learning styles.
When discussing learning styles in the forums of College 100, every student had a different way of learning that especially worked for them. If every single assignment or activity in a classroom is slanted towards visual learning, then the students who are auditory or kinesthetic learners will be at a serious disadvantage. These students will not be able to express themselves or be able to conform to the teaching style if their learning needs are not met. “In planning for multiple intelligences, teachers consider the range of activities related to the content of the lesson and the intended learning outcomes will give a range of opportunities to the children’s different intelligence strengths” (Pritchard, 2008). It is very important for a teacher to introduce a range of activities and presentations in order to make the most out of multiple intelligences.
A learning style is reflected by a students preferred method of learning, which is a direct result of their type of intelligence. It is irresponsible for a teacher to assume that all of their students will learn in the same manner. The four main styles of learning are visual, auditory, kinesthetic, and extrovert. Every style has strengths and weaknesses. It is crucial in the educational environment to exploit the student’s strengths and protect the weaknesses. A student’s self-worth and esteem can be very much tied up with their learning capability. Teachers must exhibit a range of teaching styles, so that their students learning styles will be compatible. “Diverse personalities impact relationships, motivation, and ease of learning in classroom and work environments.
Where there are diverse personalities within groups, people generally prefer and choose to be with others who are similar to themselves; individuals may even dislike those who have different attitudes and behaviors from their own” (Richardson & Arker, 2010). What Richardson and Arker are implying is that people of different personalities and learning styles tend to stick in the same groups. It would be to the benefit of everyone if individuals of different personalities and persuasions were put together in one group, that way the group will be more powerful and will benefit greatly from the input of everybody. A truly good teacher will ensure that they have designed their curriculum in such a way so that students learning needs are met. Classroom arrangements can be made so that individuals of similar temperaments are brought together in what is called compatibility scheduling. This arrangement will enhance the overall productivity of students as well as teachers” (Richardson & Arker, 2010).
As multiple intelligence theory has developed, advances in classroom methods have also been made. There are at least three different methods that combine multiple intelligence theory with learning styles in order to better the classroom environment. “Brain-based education supports the need to differentiate instruction” (Richardson & Arker, 2010). Some studies in brain research have shown that there is such a thing as a left-brain and a right-brain. People can be left or right brain dominate, which largely determines the individuals learning style. “Collaborative learning is a method of teaching and learning in which student’s team together to explore a significant question or create a meaningful project” (Educational Broadcasting Corporation, 2004).
This type of classroom learning will serve to help the entire group. The students and teachers will be able to pick out the roles that suit them best, thus serving the group to the best of their ability. Another method that is similar to collaborative learning is cooperative learning. In cooperative learning, “Students work together in small groups on a structured activity. They are individually accountable for their work, and the work of the group as a whole is also assessed. Cooperative groups work face-to-face and learn to work as a team” (Educational Broadcasting Corporation, 2004). Cooperative learning is becoming a very popular method. It uses individuals best qualities for the betterment of the group. By using these methods in the classroom learning becomes an active process and engages all types of learning styles.
The Western world has divided education into blocks, and then further divided the blocks into disciplines. While convenient on paper, it is clear that education and disciplines overlap, the world is a fluid place. Interdisciplinary education is an approach that blends different disciplines and utilizes multiple intelligence theory and varying learning styles. “The exponential growth of knowledge in the twentieth century revealed how disciplinary cultures and perspectives could discourage inquiries and explanations that spanned disciplinary boundaries. Disciplines, it now seems clear, are powerful but constraining ways of knowing” (Lattuca, 2001). By breaking down the walls of the disciplines, students are empowered to use their differing learning styles. This will result in students having positive experiences with education. Students will then seek out a lifetime of learning, and encourage other to seek knowledge.
Recognizing the theory of multiple intelligences and defining each student’s learning style will lead to success in education. By utilizing methods such as brain-based learning, cooperative learning, and collaborative learning teachers can empower students by giving them the educational method that works best for each individual. Combining all of these aspects yields the concept of interdisciplinary learning, leading to a lifetime of successful education, teaching, and learning.
Concept to Classroom: Course Menu. (2004). THIRTEEN – New York Public Media. Retrieved December 2, 2012, from http://www.thirteen.org/edonline/concept2class/index.html Lattuca, L. R. (2001). Creating interdisciplinarity: Interdisciplinary research and teaching among college and university faculty. Nashville: Vanderbilt University Press. Pritchard, A. (2008). Ways of Learning [electronic resource]: Learning Theories and Learning Styles in the Classroom. Hoboken, NJ: David Fulton Publishers. Richardson, R., & Arker, E. (2010). Personalities in the Classroom: Making the Most of Them. Kappa Delta Pi Record, 46(2), 76-81.
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