Based on recent studies, two distinct maths learning styles have been identified for children learning maths. The characteristics of these two styles are often classified by the labels or terms “inchworm” or “grasshopper”,“quantative” or ”qualitative” and “sequential” or “holistic”. It is helpful for teachers to be familiar with these two distinct learning styles in order to use the teaching style to match the needs of the pupil.
Successful mathematicians are generally those who are skilled at applying and using both approaches as success in maths tends to require flexibility in thinking.
The table below provides an overview of the two styles:
|Inchworm Approach||Grasshopper Approach|
|Prefers to follow a rule||Prefers controlled exploration|
|Prefers to follow a procedure||May redesign or simplify the problem|
|Fails to have an overview||Tends to have an holistic overview|
|Tends to see topics in isolation||Tends to link topics|
|May have a poor grasp ofconcepts||More likely to grasp concepts|
|Tends to have inflexible focus – identifies question only (not in relation to previous learning)||Flexibility of focus – may use a range of methods based on previous learning|
|Prefers “paper & pencil” methods||Prefers to calculate mentally and dislikes recording in writing|
|Tends to reproduce procedures by rote (often inaccurately)||Needs to be taught and use standard methods of calculation|
|Finds checking solutions difficult and generally repeats the original source method||May well use alternative method to check answer|
Knowing a learner's learning and thinking style can be one of the most significant pieces in the jigsaw of understanding the learner and how they approach their maths work.