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All learners are different and should all be treated as individuals.  However, at the risk of stereotyping, here are some suggestions to help you deal with different types of learners.  Bear in mind that there is more than one "solution" to dealing with each "type" and that each situation will need to be handled with wisdom and sensitivity.





Interrupt tactfully - perhaps by making way for another.


Limit the time allowed for individual contributions - perhaps using an overt method, such as a timer.




Use their expertise where appropriate.  (If you resent or try to suppress their contribution you are in danger of becoming the Know-all yourself.)


Encourage the group to deal with their theories.  This will encourage the group to ask questions and will ensure that you and "Know all" do not become adversaries.  It will also ensure that "Know all" can support their theories and opinions.




Do not criticise or belittle.


Ask them politely to explain their ideas more simply.


Re-state their ideas if necessary for the group to understand - employing a tactful approach. ("So what you are saying is...?")




These can be a great help in discussion.


Encourage their contribution.


Make sure they do not merely become "Yes-men (or women)" by getting them to explain their reasons.


To develop their critical faculty, place them in groups where the task is to argue the "negative case".




Their questioning can be useful as an indicator of the group level of understanding. (They may be asking what others are reluctant to ask.)


If it appears that they have not understood something that the rest of the group appears to have no problem with - pass their questions back to the group.  It may be that the explanations offered by the group members are clearer than your own.


If their motive appears to be to "trap" the tutor, by passing their questions back to the group you will thwart that intention.




Do not get involved in unproductive quarrels (as opposed to constructive argument).  As the tutor, you are the group facilitator.  It may be necessary for you to be an arbiter.  But you are definitely not one of the contenders.


Stop quarrelsome learners monopolising the group.


Involve the group.  ("Yes, I can see the point you are making.  What does everyone else think?")




Try to understand why they are not cooperating.  If the rest of the group appear to have been "won over", it is likely that the reason is "external" (work- or family-related) rather than to do with you and the group.


Recognise their knowledge/expertise. Value it. Call upon it.


Involve them by giving them responsibility.




Ask them easy (but not belittling) questions.


Increase their self-confidence by using praise.


Give credit wherever possible to show that their contribution (however small) has been noticed and appreciated. ("That's what X was saying a moment ago.")



Engage them on a personal level by asking them about their work/interests/hobbies, etc.