Learning Styles

Articles identify three major ways people assimilate information

Students learn most effectively according to their personal learning styles. Articles from education experts usually recognize that most individuals without learning disabilities can master new knowledge using any one of the three major styles. But most people show an inclination for a particular style and learn most easily when teaching techniques match it.

Three Learning Styles

Visual learners generally prefer to see things written in a handout, in a textbook or by projection.

They find maps, graphs, charts and other visual learning tools extremely effective.

Auditory learners learn best by listening. They typically prefer lectures, discussions and reading aloud.

Kinesthetic learners, also called tactile, learn best by doing. They want to touch, experience or physically manipulate new information.

Learning Style Assessments

Tests can formally determine a student's learning style, but generally speaking, someone who thinks in pictures, prefers to meet in person and appreciates diagrams tends towards visual learning. Another person may like sound, prefer to speak on the phone, and want verbal instructions, indicating an auditory learning style. Finally, those whose thoughts unfold like mini-movies in their minds, prefer to participate in an activity during a meeting and tend to jump right into projects without reading directions, possess a kinesthetic learning style.

Learning Styles in Classrooms

In the best of all possible worlds, teachers would incorporate all three learning styles into their delivery of every lesson. However, this doesn't always work in the real world of teaching. It's easy to include both auditory and visual learning styles in lessons. For example, you can write assignment instructions on the board and go over them out loud, or pass out study guides to recap your lecture.

It's not as easy to include the tactile/kinesthetic learning style into lessons, but for many students, this approach represents their strongest tendency. Look for natural places to include kinesthetic learning opportunities. If your lesson warrants it, you could include simulations, role-playing, debates or the use of manipulatives.

Concerns

Teachers who discount the importance of learning styles may inadvertently prevent their students from reaching their maximum learning potential. Conversely, teachers who vary their instructional methods to address all three major learning styles and present information in several ways tend to have greater success in reaching all students.

Students who know their learning style may make the mistake of thinking they cannot learn using methods more appropriate to a different style. They could simply quit trying to learn material presented in a format more appropriate to a different style. Students encounter many different styles of teaching during their educational journeys. Teachers must help students find ways to adapt so they can learn information presented in any style to give them the best chance of academic, career and personal success in the future.

 

Examples of adaptations:

  • Kinesthetic learners could write down information they need to learn.
  • Visual learners could create word webs, Venn diagrams or other visual presentations of information.
  • Auditory learners could read passages from textbooks or handouts aloud.