Understanding Student Audiences


Discovering more about who your audience is and what they bring to your program is always essential. With school groups, having some understanding of our audience can allow educators to choose techniques that maximize both the connection students make with the Park and the learning opportunities that can occur.

There is a wide base of research and information that relates to the learning preferences and developmental levels of students. The resources and activities below can serve as a starting point for you to understand what the research says about our student audiences and, from there, help you identify techniques and activities that will best engage the students you serve.

This resource was created from the Facilitating Curriciculum-based Education Programs and Services course that is offered annually online. If interested in this course, please search the Common Learning Portal. In this resource you’ll find videos, articles, guiding questions, and additional resources. It will take approximately 30 minutes to complete.

How to Use this Resource:

  • Complete the following activities.
  • Review and use the Additional Resources at the bottom.
  • Leave a review (how useful was this resource?).
  • Join our group in the CLP Commons.

Guiding Questions

  • How do you know learning is occurring when you are giving a program?
  • Which of Gardner’s Multiple Intelligence profiles do you most identify with?
  • What is your favorite age group to work with? Why?


  1. One of the most widely used models of learning styles is the Index of Learning Styles developed by Richard Felder and Linda Silverman of North Carolina State University. According to this model (which Felder revised in 2002), there are four dimensions of learning styles. It is important to know your learning style. Take the Index of Learning Styles Questionnaire (the Questionnaire contains 44 two choice questions). Have a conversation with your staff regarding your results.
  2. Review at least two of the following theories of human development and classify your current lesson plans and/or your pre- or post-visit activities into stages of development. Evaluate if your current lessons are age/developmentally appropriate.
  3. Review the article Gardner’s Theory of Multiple Intelligences by Kendra Cherry (February 2018). Then, working with your education team, brainstorm either a question, activity, or idea to engage students for each learning style by the following age(s):
    • 3-5 years old (preschool/kindergarten)
    • 6-9 years old (early elementary)
    • 10-11 years old (upper elementary)
    • 12-14 years old (middle school)
    • 15-18 years old (high school)

Additional Resources

  • Consider purchasing copies of Learning in the Museum (Museum Meanings) 1st Edition by George E. Hein and develop a book club or facilitated discussion with staff. Learning in the Museum examines major issues and shows how research in visitor studies and the philosophy of education can be applied to facilitate a meaningful educational experience in museums.
  • Check out Felder & Soloman’s summary of the different learning styles and consider how to diversify your techniques in one of your education programs and/or pre- or post-lessons so that the needs of different types of learners can be addressed.

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