How Adapting to Individual Learning Styles Benefits Students

What are Learning Styles?

learning styles
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Learning styles refer to an individual's preferred or best process through which they will learn the easiest. Learning styles can be broadly defined as one of the seven primary ways that a person can learn. The seven recognized learning styles include kinesthetic, auditory, verbal, visual, logical, social, and solitary. Some learners are naturally drawn to one particular learning style while others are adaptive to multiple styles.

  Individuals are often capable of learning with more than one style but learn things easier and quicker with their preferred style.

The seven most common learning styles include:

  • Kinesthetic (physical) - Learners prefer hands-on learning. They enjoy manipulating objects through touch. They are very mechanical and like to disassemble and assemble objects. They learn best through experiments, hands-on learning, and by conducting investigations.

  • - Learners prefer to learn through listening. They enjoy listening to speeches and lectures. They typically like and relate to music. They learn best when they can hear it.

  • Verbal (linguistic) - Learners prefer to learn through spoken or written language.  They have the gift of gab. They are very fluent in their speech. They are excellent writers. Speaking in front of audiences come easily. They learn best through giving a speech or by composing an essay on a topic.

  • - Learners prefer to learn through performing arts, pictures, or images. The find beauty in what they can see. If they can see it, they can learn it. They learn best by watching videos, seeing pictures, or see a performance such as a play.

  • Logical (mathematical) - Learners prefer to learn by reasoning and love numbers. They search for the underlying meaning behind everything. They are thinkers and philosophers.  The process of solving a problem is ultimately more important to them the answer itself.  They learn best when they can utilize numbers and data to solve a problem.

  • Social (interpersonal) - Learners prefer to learn with other people in a group setting.  They enjoy interacting with others.  They are people persons. They contribute to the group and expect others to contribute equally. They learn best when they are engaged in discussion, exchanges of ideas, and casual conversation with other people.

  • Solitary (intrapersonal) - Learners prefer to learn in isolation of others. They are loners. They see other people as a distraction. They self-study and have the intrinsic motivation necessary to stay on task. They learn best when they are alone and can focus on a task quietly and rhythmically.

In a more general sense, learning styles can include elements of the environment including their optimal time of day, lighting in the room, the temperature of the room, etc. They also include a person's emotional needs, physical needs, and sociological needs. These are often discovered through a learning style inventory or a short questionnaire provided by the classroom teacher that provides them with the insight necessary to more readily meet an individual student's needs.

Many teachers fail their students when they do not account for individual learning styles within their lessons.

Teachers make a mistake when they construct their lessons based on their own preferred learning style. They do a disservice to those students whose learning styles differ from their own. Embracing individual learning styles can be life altering for some students. In many cases, these students may be struggling simply because the teaching style does not match their learning style. Adapting lessons to embrace multiple learning styles is relatively easy and can pay big dividends.

Teachers must give their students a learning styles inventory to determine their preferred learning styles. Once they have that data, they can begin to customize lessons to fit their students' learning needs. Customizing lessons to include specific learning styles can be difficult for teachers.  It takes time to develop and requires an outside-the-box approach.

Teachers who include learning styles within their lesson planning often find that their students are more attentive. They are also enthusiastic about learning and are typically more academically successful than their peers.