Identifying a Learners Needs

Updated: Aug 17

To continue on a little bit from my post "Understanding Inclusive Teaching" I want to talk about identifying learners needs. It is important to identify and meet the individual learners needs so that we can provide equal opportunities, effectively giving every learner the same learning experience. As Gravells, A and Simpson, S (2014) say in their CET handbook:

“It is difficult to help your learners if they don’t tell you about any specific issues, needs or concern they might have.”

Once we understand a learners needs we can begin to tailor activities and resources to support each individual learners ability, this is called differentiation. Differentiation is always taking place when teaching. Many times in my online lessons, students will be set activities by the company which are far too difficult for them to understand with their current language ability at which point me as the the teacher must adapt/scrap/change the activity as appropriate. This can of course be difficult if learners in the class have differing abilities to each other but you do what you can to make it fair for everyone.

Ensuring the learner is on the correct course/programme is crucial for effective learning, it is a basic need of any learner. This can be established by reviewing the learners goals and understanding what they want to achieve. I have seen scenarios whilst working in college where students sometimes feel that they are not suited to the course they initially started on. This can be due to a variety of reasons, for example, not knowing what the course will entail before starting. At this point, the course tutors should step in and suggest constructive ways to move forward including switching courses or moving a different tier of difficulty.

You should also try to identify if any support is required by the learner in addition to their studies inside or outside the classroom. This could include resources for the disabled which of course should always be taken into consideration, or, resources for learners who are either under-challenged or over challenged. By understanding what a learners needs, you can ensure that they are properly included within the learning environment and foster a great learning attitude and environment.

Gravells, A and Simpson, S (2014) The Certificate in Education and Training. Learning Matters