Seminar stresses SMART goals, learning styles

By Gerald Kern/reporter

Each year, thousands of new college students walk through the doors of the various TCC campuses, but only a fraction will earn a four-year degree.

What separates those who reach their self-directed life milestones and those who do not? Grit.

Ronda Isaacs, NE coordinator of special services for the advising and counseling center, led a discussion Sept. 6 with a team of campus facilitators for first-year students who sought life-changing guidance.

The discussion called Start on Track was based on Harvard professor Howard Gardner’s Multiple Intelligence Theory. According to Gardner, success in college and life takes a blend of street smarts and book smarts. It also requires grit and a growth-oriented mindset.

Isaacs and her team of facilitators broke down eight key learning styles listed by Gardner and helped students identify their optimal learning styles.

• Linguistic students often do well in a traditional classroom setting due to their strong use of the language arts: writing, speaking, listening and reading.

• Logic and math students often do well in conformity-oriented classrooms where empirical results in numbers, reasoning and problem-solving are measured.

• Music students often get overlooked in traditional schools. Their minds are geared toward music expression, patterns, songs, creativity and instruments.

• Spatial students can interpret data quickly through maps, tables, charts, graphs, art and puzzles. They are often quick to identify things that stand out or how things fit visually or organizationally.

• Bodily kinesthetic learners are hands-on learners. They do better with on-the-job training versus textbooks and lectures. They tend to get restless and can often fidget unknowingly to the annoyance of others.

• Interpersonal people are the people persons. They succeed in group or partnered projects. However, outgoingness and a need to be social can also distract them from accomplishing critical tasks if left unchecked.

• Intrapersonal students are more Zen-like. These tend to gravitate toward self-help books as they seek to get in better touch with their ideas, feelings and values.

• Naturalists and existentialists tend to dial into their inner survivalist like Bear Grylls or the late crocodile hunter Steve Irwin. They appreciate nature in its finest details while asking themselves deep meaningful questions of existence.

Once one’s learning style is determined, creating SMART goals helps build the path to success, Isaacs said. SMART goals are defined as goals that are specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and timely.

Addressing the unique learning styles of students and following it up with tailored SMART goals will have a greater impact on developing a growth-oriented mindset, which delivers more results than just high test scores alone, Isaacs said.