What Every Teacher Ought to Know About Learning Styles

what ought to know about learning styles

What is Meant by Learning Styles?

Learning styles are simply different approaches or ways of learning. Once you figure out the way you learn, you will know what strategies to use to fit your learning.

Learning style refers to the ways you prefer to approach new information. Each of us learns and processes information in our own special style, although we share some learning patterns, preferences, and approaches.

The ways in which a student acquires, retains or retrieves information are termed the student’s learning style. Students learn in many ways — by seeing and hearing; reflecting and acting; reasoning logically and intuitively; memorizing and visualizing.

Teaching methods also vary. Some teachers lecture, others demonstrate or discuss; some focus on rules and others on examples; some emphasize memory and others’ understanding.

How much a given student learns in a class is governed in part by that student’s ability and prior preparation but also by the compatibility of his or her characteristic approach to learning and the teacher’s characteristic approach to teaching.

Types of Learning Styles:

  1. Visual: Visual learners learn mainly through seeing.
  2. Auditory: Auditory learners learn mainly through listening and talking things through.
  3. Tactile/Kinaesthetic: Tactile/Kinaesthetic learners learn through moving, doing and touching.

Visual Learners:

  • These learners need to see the teacher’s body language and facial expression to fully understand the content of a lesson.
  • They tend to prefer sitting at the front of the classroom to avoid visual obstructions (e.g. people’s heads).
  • They may think in pictures and learn best from visual displays including diagrams, illustrated textbooks, overhead transparencies, videos, flipcharts, and hand-outs.
  • During a lecture or classroom discussion, visual learners often prefer to take detailed notes to absorb the information

Auditory Learners:

  • They learn best through verbal lectures, discussions, talking things through and listening to what others have to say.
  • Auditory learners interpret the underlying meanings of speech through listening to the tone of voice, pitch, speed, and other nuances.
  • Written information may have little meaning for them until it is heard.
  • These learners often benefit from reading text aloud and using a tape recorder.

Tactile/Kinaesthetic Learners:

  • Tactile/Kinaesthetic persons learn best through a hands-on approach, actively exploring the physical world around them.
  • They may find it hard to sit still for long periods and may become distracted by their need for activity and exploration.

How Do You Define a Student’s Learning Style?

Here is a list of five questions that can be used to do so:

  1. What type of information does the student preferentially perceive: sensory: sights, sounds, physical sensations, or intuitive: memories, ideas, insights?
  2. Through which modality is sensory information most effectively perceived: visual: pictures, diagrams, graphs, demonstrations, or verbal: sounds, written and spoken words and formulas?
  3. With which organization of information is the student most comfortable: inductive: facts and observations are given, underlying principles are inferred, or deductive: principles are given, consequences and applications are deduced?
  4. How does the student prefer to process information: actively: through engagement in physical activity or discussion, or reflectively: through introspection?
  5. How does the student progress toward understanding: sequentially: in a logical progression of small incremental steps, or globally: in large jumps, holistically?

How Do You Adapt Your Teaching to Different Learning Styles?

For Visual Learners:

  • Draw pictures on the board.
  • Use graphics.
  • Read the text that explains the graphics.
  • Play a movie related to the topic.
  • Encourage acting out the subject matter.

For Auditory Learners:

  • Use listening activities.
  • Encourage role-playing for the conversations.
  • Read aloud the texts or talk through the information.

For Tactile/Kinaesthetic Learners:

  • Use a highlighter pen to mark important items.
  • Encourage taking notes, transferring the information learned to the margins of the book. Encourage jotting down whatever comes to their mind as they read.
  • Ask them to hold the book in their hands instead of placing it on a table.
  • Ask them to move or walk around while they are reading.

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