Supporting Learner Differences in the Classroom


Within any given classroom at any particular grade level, a teacher will understand that their students come from diverse backgrounds and will have unique, personal and individual differences. Subsequently, each and every student may learn new knowledge differently and this naturally, will affect how they perform in the classroom.

Understanding learner differences can be an overwhelming and daunting task, but it is extremely essential, so as to ensure that all students have opportunities to be successful. Within the context of this article, the surface of this topic has only been scratched.

Students have different levels of motivation, attitudes, and responses to specific classroom environments and instructional practices. The more thoroughly educators understand these difference among the students that they are teaching, the better the chance students have in learning what is being taught. Three categories that have been shown to have important implications for teaching and learning are the differences in students’ learning styles (Learner Preferences), approaches to learning (Student Interest), and intellectual development levels (Student Readiness).

Current trends of popular educational terms such as Differentiated Instruction and Response to Intervention (RTI) are based on an underlying belief that students acquire information and knowledge in different ways. Therefore to ensure that all students will be successful in school, instruction must be tailored/modified to address individual student needs and preferences.

This understanding of the connection between how instruction is provided and the degree to which a student will retain knowledge has been substantiated by many different educational researchers and educational institutions.

According to the National Research Council, acquisition of knowledge is influenced by; student’s prior understandings, interests, beliefs, how students learn best, and the student’s attitude about self and school. These factors alone can significantly impact a child’s learning situation. For example, a child that has a healthy, loving, family that encourages experimentation and exploration of his/her learning environment will most likely foster a positive attitude about new learning.

Consideration for individual learning preferences, student interests, student readiness, and cultural/gender differences can account for variance in student behaviors and student motivation, which may ultimately, indirectly or directly impact student performance as well.

This is information becomes critical as a teacher plans out their instruction and determines which gaps students may have in their learning. Furthermore, when teachers consider the fact that students may be acquiring a second language, this will impact how they perform academically. Students may be easily motivated or may become reluctant or struggling students, and in some cases, students who are advanced will struggle if they are not challenged appropriately for their performance level. Teachers must continue to investigate, and research different ways to diagnose and gather as much information about their students learning styles, using surveys and other tools, in addition to assessment tools.

Ultimately, teachers are challenged to design instructional lessons that are tailored to diverse student needs that go well beyond traditional tasks, using a variety of tools and information to do so adequately. As a result here are 8 online courses which we offer for your review as a starting point to investigate additional approaches that will support various learning styles within their classroom.

Online Self-Paced Courses For Educators:

  1. Differentiated Instruction Driven by Assessments (Foundations)
  2. Creating Learning Classrooms for Today’s Students (Grades K-12)
  3. Increasing Student Engagement: Planning Outside the Box
  4. The 4 C’s of 21st Century Learning: Critical Thinking Collaboration, Communication, and Creativity
  5. Helping the Struggling Reader Succeed in Grades 4-12
  6. Challenging Gifted Students in the Regular Classroom
  7. Blended Learning: Fostering College and Career Readiness
  8. Meeting ELL Students’ Needs in Today’s Classroom (grades K-12)

For more information please contact us at or toll-free 1-855-498-4400.