Our Guide To Understanding & Identifying Students Needs
Understanding the learning needs of students in class is very important for a teacher, this is because every student differs as an individual, with some learning faster than others.
To identify the learning needs of students, you need to pay attention to students individually and get to know their backgrounds, some teachers also use tests or split their lessons into different learning styles in order to accommodate everyone.
In our guide below, we will take you through what learning needs mean, why it’s important to know them, tests for identifying special needs and some tips and tricks for accommodating learning needs in all students.
What Are Learning Needs In Students?
As a teacher the term learning needs can be thrown around a lot in training, but what do learning needs actually mean?
Learning needs in simple terms mean everyone has different learning journeys, and in order to learn properly from learning materials, these materials need to have certain qualities such as visual or auditory so that different individuals can be able to learn properly.
When considering the learning material to meet the different learning needs of students, you can split the material into two parts –
- Content – This refers to the level of the content, whether difficult or easy and is also what knowledge it equips users with.
- Delivery – The delivery means how the material is taught to the students, this could mean video or pictures, as well as how fast it is delivered or the time learning, has taken.
Why Is It Important To Identify Learning Needs?
Understanding the learning needs of person to person is very important in order to teach a class effectively and get the students to learn properly as well as stay engaged.
When we cater learning material to specific students and their learning needs this makes it more interesting and engaging for students since it’s more enjoyable. Also giving students material to work towards a goal keeps them committed to their studying.
Choosing learning resources based on student’s needs helps knowledge to stay more memorable in students’ minds if it’s something which they are used to working with.
If we give students the wrong learning materials for their needs then it’s a waste of time and will be forgotten quickly.
Delivering the material of the right difficulty level is crucial in order for a student to learn properly. Too easy then a student will not be engaged or too difficult can cause frustration and cause students to lose motivation.
Students physical and mental needs are very important to consider when delivering learning material.
Taking languages and disabilities into account should be a number one factor when deciding on material, for example, if someone is blind textbook learning is not appropriate and the same goes for deaf students when the material is delivered via audio.
Common Tests Used To Identify Needs In Students
Before making decisions on people and their learning material, some schools use tests to figure out if any of their students have special needs, this can also help to identify learning styles in other students.
We’ve listed a few common tests used in schools for finding learning needs below.
- Visual motor tests – These tests are often used in younger learning to test whether a brain can match visual cues to motor coordination. This could be sketching pictures, special support might be needed if they fail this test.
- Language tests – This is very common in the classroom and is simply used to determine the language a child can understand and if they can respond verbally to cues.
- Intelligence tests – These are also known as IQ tests, findings from these intelligence tests can allow teachers to identify strengths and weaknesses in students learning needs.
- Achievement tests – Achievements focus on maths, writing and reading, appropriate support can then be offered to help the students strengthen in particular areas.
How To Accommodate Different Learning Styles
To deliver the best teaching to students we need to identify the different qualities in people and how they learn as well as other factors.
We’ve listed what to consider and how to accommodate different learning styles down below.
Giving the right learning space for people is essential for them to learn properly.
- Auditory – Students who learn via audio will often retain knowledge better when listening to the teacher rather than writing/reading. They often tend to be better at verbally repeating things and tend to read out loud when reading material. Watching videos or group discussions tends to be best for these learners.
- Visual – This is also known as a spatial learning style, learners who learn visually learn best with pictures and diagrams, these will be your list makers in class or doodlers. To engage these students we suggest using whiteboards, handouts and printouts are also great, make sure to give them enough time to absorb the attention.
- Reading/writing – Reading/writing learners tend to be better with visually learning too, you will often find a lot of people just research information to learn. Learners through this style do well in the traditional learning system, they just need time to absorb the information.
- Kinesthetic – These are also known as tactile learners, they learn better through experience and tend to be better at dance or sport. For these students to learn better we suggest getting them to act, move or take part in learning games, this helps them to understand the concept better.
Time is also very important when considering how to meet different learning needs, for short lessons for visual learning you might want to base your lesson around short video clips, but for an hour-long lesson for auditory learners, debates might be better.
Factors Affecting The Learning Needs Of Students
One of the first tasks for any teacher when starting a class is to get to know the individual students, the following factors below can influence the different learning needs and styles someone has –
- Learning history – Students who have been taught before in different learning styles will find it harder to learn in new styles set by different teachers, understanding previous ways students have been taught to learn is important.
- Background language – If a student is being taught in a language which is not their primary language this will be harder for them to learn at the same speed as other students.
- Environment – The environment a student learns in is important, some individuals might learn better independent quiet study areas while others thrive in more active group discussions.
How To Balance The Learning Needs Of Different Students
One of the biggest dilemmas for a teacher is to understand how to meet the learning needs of different students when they are combined into one class.
An easy way to make sure the needs of all students are met is by combining different learning techniques into one lesson.
For example, if you were teaching the English language you could have a mix of audio lessons, reading, acting out literature and writing to support all learning styles. When you have time, you can adjust lesson plans accordingly as you get to know your students and their needs.
Different Teaching Strategies For Diverse Learners
Once you’ve learnt qualities people have when it comes to learning, you can then try different teaching strategies to help students learn effectively.
Think Thoughtful Groupings
Most of the time in traditional schooling, students are grouped according to their ability, however, why not try grouping them according to interest or learning styles, this allows students to collaborate and makes learning more memorable and fun!
Review Teaching Styles
Try not to approach every class with the same teaching styles, different students will respond differently to various learning styles. Adjust your lesson plan according to the type of students you’re teaching, or if you don’t know them well make sure there are lots of different learning styles combined into your lessons.
Try More Active Learning
Debates, roleplay and more active learning are great to bring into the classroom, it doesn’t only appeal to kinaesthetic learners but active learning helps students with all learning styles engage.
Keep Communication Open
Make sure there is open communication between teachers and students, this allows you to hear your students needs and adjust lesson plans accordingly, surveys can also be a great way to get to know your students.
Make Your Classroom More Dynamic
Set your classroom up to be more dynamic, and allow there to be different learning stations or seating arrangements so students can learn more individually if they want to.
What Makes The Best Lesson Plan For Students Needs
Apart from figuring out your student’s needs, you also need to consider other elements of a lesson plan to give the best lesson/teaching experience to your students.
We’ve listed the main factors which make the best lesson plan for students below.
- Identify the objective – Before starting your lesson consider what you want to achieve by the end of the lesson, have the goal in mind before starting the plan.
- Consider the needs – Take into account the needs of your students, which ones might need more help and what is expected of them throughout the lesson.
- Plan materials – Make a list of the materials you need for your lesson, also include tech resources such as websites.
- Engage students – Give your students an outline of what you’re going to be teaching them, introduce it informally and make sure it’s interesting so that they can stay engaged.
- Present information – Present concepts and information in a meaningful way to your students, consider the different learning styles as we mentioned above.
- Allow for practice – Practice is important for implementing knowledge, you could do this through guided practice, collaborative practice or independent practice, e.g. by writing a small essay.
- End and reflect – Finish a lesson by reviewing what you’ve learnt and over-viewing the lesson, this could be done in the form of a quiz.
Frequently Asked Questions About Understanding The Learning Needs Of Students
What are the four types of student needs?
The main four types of students and their learning are; auditory, reading/writing, visual and kinesthetic, each of these needs mean students learn better with different learning materials.
How to support the needs of students with learning differences?
If you have a class with different students and learning differences they might need extra support in the classroom.
Some ways of support could be; having a set routine for the student at the start and end of a lesson, giving them clear instructions, focusing on individual achievement and introducing them to metacognitive ways around their thinking to see which learning works best for them.
How do I cater for special needs when teaching?
If you have a classroom with special needs students we recommend following these tips to stay on top of your teaching; Stay organised, keep instructions simple and make sure you recognise each student is unique.
What are kinesthetic learners?
This is a type of person or student who learns actively through experience, this could via sport or roleplay.
How to improve lessons for students?
The best lessons are the types which cater to all students and their needs, we also recommend encouraging ICT learning and communicating openly.
How do I know what my learning style is?
The best way to figure out your learning style is to try different types, for example, learn something via audio or visual then compare what sticks in your memory best.
This can take a while till you find what works best for you, some people are a mix of learning styles, for example, they learn visually and through writing/taking notes on what they have seen.
What is good for visual learners?
If your student is a visual learners they learn best through the following examples; tables, graphs, videos, colours, maps and diagrams. Visualisation can also help these people consolidate information.
Overall, identifying the learning needs of students is important if you want to create the best learning environment for your class, to know how to identify learning needs you need to get to know your students.
Try to combine different learning styles in your lessons so you can appeal to all students, whether visual, reading, auditory or kinesthetic.
A Wife, a mum and a Tutor! I am the Lead Editor at TheTutor.Link & also the Head Tutor there. I love teaching seeing young minds flourish. I also love blogging and sharing my experience on the world wide web.