Everyone has unique strengths and weaknesses that affect the way they learn, what they enjoy, and what they focus upon. The many variations of learning style and intelligence levels do not diminish when multiple students are placed in one classroom. Teachers must be able to adapt their instruction skills to support the student body as a whole. To teach multiple intelligence levels in one classroom, assessments can be used to determine what modifications can help accommodate each student (Gregory & Chapman, 2008).
Differentiated assessment occurs when a teacher utilizes multiple approaches to introduce material, and then allows the students to display the knowledge they have gained. Using multiple tools for one lesson, such as auditory and visual instruction, can help bridge the gap in learning styles. The goal of differentiated assessment is to give students the tools they need to think for themselves (Gregory & Chapman, 2008).
Pre-assessment begins with determining what the students already know and how they learn. Variables such as culture, language, interests, and learning style need to be evaluated. Some steps to assessing students include quizzes and testing, class discussion sessions, and learning style inventories. The information found from the evaluations can be used to determine where support is needed, what tools of enrichment can be utilized, and what interests and learning styles each student has. The goal of an assessment is to find a way to keep each student challenged enough to encourage their thinking and learning (Burggraf, 2005).
One type of pre-assessment would be to administer interest surveys that give insight into the learning styles of the students. When a teacher knows what a student enjoys, they can determine how a student learns. Interest surveys can be used to discern visual, tactile, and auditory learning styles. Some example survey questions could ask what hobbies a student has, or what books, movies and television shows they enjoy. This is also a good tool to determine a student’s aspirations and subject or learning style strengths (Peters, 2007).
Howard Gardner’s Multiple Intelligence Theory helps establish profiles of ability. Learning comes from understanding the individual and their abilities. People mature at different speeds; individual intelligence cannot be determined from one test. According to Gardner, intelligence is problem-solving. To utilize Gardner’s multiple intelligences, students are evaluated by eight criteria of intelligence. The criteria include determining circumstances of brain damage, finding gifted qualities, exploring developmental and evolutionary history, psychometric and psychological aptitude, the susceptibility to encoding symbols, and identifying core operations. These criteria are used to determine linguistic, logical, musical, spatial, interpersonal, and kinesthetic bits of intelligence (Smith, 2008).
Other pre-assessment tools can also include tests that introduce the most difficult work first, to determine who may need extra help later on. Creating charts can also help in evaluating students. A chart can include the topics that will be covered within a unit, with questions asking the students if they had ever heard of the upcoming material and if they can proficiently complete it. A teacher can also introduce a topic and ask the students to write what they know about that topic. A student’s knowledge base needs to be determined before a lesson can be successfully taught to the group as a whole (Peters, 2007).
Post-assessments will utilize the results of the pre-assessment evaluations. What the students learned will be evident to the teacher as well as the students. To determine what was learned, tools such as tests, discussions, and worksheets can be used. End of course or end of unit evaluations can prove that the teaching and learning skills used in a particular class were compatible and successful (Gregory & Chapman, 2008).
The results of the post-assessment will give insight into needed changes. If the majority of the student body fails the post-assessment, the teacher learns that they must modify how they are teaching the students. If a select few students struggle, the teacher learns that additional learning styles need to be accommodated. The teaching role must be flexible; it is not a one size fits all endeavour. The results can be used by the teacher and passed along to their colleagues in a way to strengthen teaching skills and student understanding (Gregory & Chapman, 2008).
Some recommendations that can be shared to improve learning outcomes include conveying the need for reaching out to veteran teachers for advice, introducing the idea that change is not just good it is necessary and additionally remembering that learning never ends, even on the teaching level. Other suggestions to strengthen learning and teaching ability can include group or shared teaching, and shared influence within a school. A strong support system can add a unified strength (Johnson & Donaldson, 2007).
Each individual learns differently and they have different levels of knowledge. The teacher must learn how to determine the strengths and weaknesses of each student to push each student to excel. A stagnate student may lose interest and a struggling student can easily give up if changes are not made. The use of assessments and learning tools can change the entire aspect and agenda of a classroom, helping it to achieve excellence (Gregory & Chapman, 2008).
- Burggraf, K. (2005). Best Practices In Education Differentiated Instruction.
- Donaldson, S. M. (2007). Overcoming the Obstacles to Leadership.
- Gregory, G. & Chapman, C. (2008). Differentiated instructional strategies in practice: Training, implementation, and supervision (2nd ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press.
- Peters, D. (2007). Differentiation Preassessment.
- Smith, M. K. (2008). Howard Gardner, Multiple Intelligences and Education.