In this lesson, learn what makes social/interpersonal learners tick and how you can support their growth and development in the classroom.
Try out new ideas for making the most of these strong communicators.
Definition of Social Learning
Do you have a friend who comes alive when interacting with other people? They have a great sense for the mood of a group and are often interested in making sure conversations go well. You or your other friends have probably gone to this person for advice. Or maybe the person being described is you, and you’re the one who’s the communicator and connector. This people-person likely has a social/interpersonal learning style, meaning they learn best when interacting with others and can relate that learning to the people around them.
Social Learner Characteristics
A student who learns this way can often be found in conversation, either listening or talking, aiming to understand the thoughts of others and communicate their own ideas.
This type of learner will be more motivated than most to express their own thoughts and feelings while respecting the thoughts and feelings of others. For example, a social/interpersonal learner might be more apt to remember to ask others how they are doing, rather than focusing on only their own situation. As this person matures, they become skilled at balancing their own needs and the needs of others because of this desire to facilitate good relationships.In addition to having strong communication skills, those with this learning style will pick up on body language and other nonverbal cues easily. For example, if you’ve had a bad day but are trying to hide it from others, a social/interpersonal learner might be the first to notice your changed demeanor.When choosing an activity, they’re more likely to pick something that will involve social interaction, communication, and multiple people.
Whether they play team sports, talk on the phone more frequently than most, or enjoy social gatherings, they will find a way to connect with other people on a regular basis.
Interpersonal Strategies in the Classroom
Social/interpersonal learners usually learn well through discussion. This means their best learning environment is one with opportunities to engage with others.
The following are ideas for accommodating the specific needs of the interpersonal/social learner:
- When speaking to a student, realize that they are attuned to your nonverbal cues. If you have an issue to address with them, be compassionate and open so that the issue can be freely discussed and a solution found.
- These students may do well as support mentors for other students. Often natural tutors and teachers, they are peer-oriented and can be helpful in the classroom, particularly when new students join the classroom mid-school-year.
- Since quiet time can be tougher for social/interpersonal learners, let students know when they will be allowed to re-engage with fellow classmates. This might help these learners deal with your request.
- Other types of learners, such as verbal/linguistic learners (those who learn best from the written and spoken word) and auditory learners (those who learn best through hearing and listening), might enjoy activities that overlap with the needs of a social/interpersonal learner. For example, any activity that involves discussion will hold some appeal to each of these learning styles.
- When possible, provide options for these students to connect in small groups to learn cooperatively.
You are probably teaching a class of students who all have different learning styles. While meeting the needs of your social/interpersonal learners, you will, of course, want to respect that some learners are more introverted or learn by working quietly. Do your best to strike a balance between types of activities that offer social interaction and those that do not require it. For example, at times, allow some students to work independently and others to work in groups rather than everyone engaging in the same activity at the same time.
Those with a social/interpersonal learning style can often be found among other people, since they learn best when interacting with others and can relate that learning to the people around them.
They’re good at expressing themselves and tend to have strong listening skills. Interactions are very important to this type of learner and might be a good fit acting as a supporter and mentor to new students. They can also work with auditory learners (those who learn best through hearing and listening) and verbal/linguistic learners (those who learn best from the written and spoken word).In the classroom, recognize the strengths of these students by providing opportunities for them to use their natural skills by offering choices in activities and encouraging their involvement in mentoring. Give them timeframes for when quiet time will end in order to prevent behavioral problems during this time.
If issues do arise, use the student’s ability to talk things out by having a conversation, remembering that your nonverbal cues will be apparent and important to social learners.