Learning Styles

learning styles

A reader recently commented in response to this post about learning styles that he’d like to know more about learning styles such as what is a learning style, what is the definition of this term, what are the different types, what is the method to determine your learning style, and what tools can be used.  This article was written in response to his questions.

Each person is different and special in his or her own way. Part of what makes an individual unique is how she learns and discovers new things. We use our senses to understand the world around us, and each of us finds one sense to be stronger in that assessment than another. Different learning styles are all about the way learning is approached and optimized individually.

Learning styles can be defined as an individual’s unique approach to learning based on strengths, weaknesses, and preferences. Once a person connects with a certain style of learning, it provides the opportunity to tap into the brain and learning. There are three styles of learning – auditory, visual, and kinetic.

Auditory Learning Style

Auditory learners connect with listening and hearing when learning. Lectures provide a wealth of information, and auditory learners enjoy listening and paying attention. According to FamilyEducation.com, auditory learners benefit from traditional teaching techniques in the classroom. Teachers can aide in learning by adding extra auditory interest by using voice fluctuations during lectures, reading directions, and using verbal clues often.

Visual Learning Style

Visual learners find seeing information demonstrated, observing charts and visual aides, or watching a movie or video to be beneficial to learning. Learning often takes place in large visual chunks for visual learners. Within the classroom, educators can include charts, diagrams, and other visual aides to help the visual learner see the big-picture and understand new concepts.

Kinetic Learning Style

Kinetic learners are doers and learning takes place through movement and action. Touching, feeling, exploring and experimenting through the sense of touch is essential for the kinetic learner. Kinetic learners are active, which is sometimes misunderstood within the classroom. Offer hands-on activities within the educational environment to provide the kinetic learner the opportunity to learn while doing.

How to Determine Your Learning Style

There are several simple questionnaire tests you can take to help determine your learning style. Some can figure it out by paying attention to how they learn, but for others, it can be a bit more challenging. Once a learning style is identified as dominant, it can help the individual excel in learning and understanding of the surrounding world. And, some individuals have two learning styles that may benefit knowledge.

Consider how you enjoy learning. Visualize yourself in an educational situation. Which do you prefer – lectures, visuals, or activities? If you prefer listening to a lecture on a topic you are interested in, you are probably an auditory learner. Those that enjoy watching a demonstrative video can be considered visual learners. And, if you’d rather be doing a hands-on activity, like a dissection, you probably connect best with kinetic learning style.

Many have a gut feeling which style fits their personality and abilities. Along with learning what learning style fits you, you can find out more about how your brain works and utilize that information to encourage better educational experiences in the future. This is a great opportunity to explore learning activities with children to enhance learning style abilities, encouraging whole-brain learning.

Understanding Your Learning Style

Now that you have an idea what style of learning best fits you, you can begin using it to your advantage. While learning, tap into your knowledge and use what you have learned to advance how you gain knowledge. If you are a visual learner, observe, look at pictures about a new subject matter, and create charts and graphs. Auditory learners can search out lectures and discussions about topics they find interesting. And, kinetic learners can engage in activities and hands-on projects.

Within the classroom, when an educator understands the different learning styles of students, learning can be created to accommodate students with some simple adjustments, which is called the meshing hypothesis. When individual learning style preferences are accommodated through instructional teaching, academic achievement and individual attitudes towards learning improve.

Auditory, visual, and kinetic learning styles are essential concepts to aide in the educational process, although some studies disagree. Understanding that the concept of learning styles is a theory that assists with the learning process is key, and that tapping into that knowledge is beneficial to the individual as well as the educator.