Working with Different Learning Styles
Everyone learns differently. According to psychologists and education specialists, there are three prevalent learning styles. If you want to discover what types of learner you (or your students) are, ask yourself, if you wanted to paint a room, how much paint do you need?
Visual learners like to see charts, diagrams, overhead transparencies, handouts, videos, worksheets, and examples. They work best when they can see the facial expressions and body language of the teacher. Oftentimes, visual learners prefer to sit near the front of the class where they can avoid visual distractions. Usually, visual learners will take very detailed notes. Asking visual learners to picture a concept in their head is a useful way to communicate information to them. To address the painting problem, visual learners would conduct research online or by reading the backs of paint cans. If there is a problem, visual learners might take measurements and make charts or diagrams of the room.
Auditory learners learn primarily through verbal lectures and classroom discussion. Often, they will encourage discussion and ask open-ended questions. Auditory learners benefit less from reading textbooks. They may not take many notes. Auditory learners follow oral directions better than written ones. They prefer listening to the radio rather than reading a newspaper. They often hum, whistle, or sing to themselves. They are usually very articulate and enjoy debates. They like telling jokes and stories. They make verbal analogies to demonstrate points. They work well with mnemonics. To address the painting problem, auditory learners would call a friend who knows how to paint and ask for instructions or advice. They will listen carefully and follow the instructions to the best of their ability. If there are any problems, they will discuss the problems and solutions with an expert.
Tactile learners enjoy a hands-on approach, participating in experiments and actively exploring the world around them. Many tactile learners have trouble sitting still and participating in a classroom lecture. A tell-tale sign of a tactile learner is drawing or doodling during class. Tactile learners often work skillfully with their hands to make or repair things. They often prefer to stand while working. They may use their hands more than the average person to communicate what they want to say. They are good at finding their way around, even in an unfamiliar place. They excel at jigsaw puzzles. They touch or hug others as a sign of friendship. To address the painting problem, tactile learners would go and buy a can of paint and just jump in. When they run out of paint, they simply go and buy more. Eventually, they will learn through experience how much paint is needed to paint a room.
Since information is conveyed in different ways, a student's learning style will affect the things they learn. If something is written down but not discussed in class, or if sufficient examples are not provided, there may be gaps in the knowledge of students. Recognizing the differences in learning styles can ensure that teachers always convey important information by all three methods: saying it, writing it, and showing examples.
More Information On Learning Styles
- How do I know my learning style?
- How Your Learning Style Affects Your Use of Mnemonics
- Instrumental Enrichment / Mediated Learning
- John Dewey and informal education
- Learning & Instruction: The TIP Database
- Learning Concepts
- The International Learning Styles Network
- What are learning styles?