What Are Learning Styles
People tend to perceive information in different ways and this has an impact on how we learn. For example, some people are visual learners, they learn better if they can “see” the information. Other people may learn better through hearing, or touch. Although each of us is able to learn through all of the different learning styles, a person will learn and retain information easier through their learning style.
Most people will learn through more than one learning style, however, they will learn best through a specific style. This is not to say the will not combine different ways of learning, for example, although someone may learn best through seeing, they may find that both listening to a lecture and seeing the words together provide the best way for them to learn.
Why Are Learning Styles Important
Understanding your learning style is certainly important in a school setting. It can help in studying for upcoming tests by giving you concrete aids, such as note cards and visual cues for visual learners or by listening to taped recordings for auditory learners.
In addition to studying, understanding learning styles can help improve other areas of life. Communication with a spouse, child or a friend can improve if you understand both people’s learning styles. For example, if your child is a visual learner, using visual aids to communicate instructions can help them to better retain the directions you have given them.
The activities we choose to participate in and our jobs are also impacted by how we learn. Knowing and understanding learning styles gives information on how someone solves problems and generally relates to information and other people.
When a person has a difficult time learning in one specific class, the reason could be the different learning styles. The teacher may use one dominant type of teaching and the student may not learn in this way.
Although learning styles impact many different aspects of a person’s life, the following information is based on a person’s learning style as it relates to classroom learning.
Visual learners use cues such as body language and facial expressions to help them learn and understand what the other person is saying. They may do best if they have additional information in the form of charts, illustrations and handouts to go along with lectures. Visual learners may take notes and do best when sitting in the front of the classroom.
- Use images, pictures and color to enhance your notes.
- Use layout and organization as a way to “see” the concepts being taught.
- Increase understanding by looking up pictures, reading words or finding charts to explain what you have learned.
- Use different colored pens to take notes to add visual cues to the information you are learning.
Auditory learners learn best from hearing the information. They benefit from lectures and discussions of the material. They solve problems by talking things through and listening to what other people have to say about a subject. Auditory learners listen to how someone speaks, what inflections they use in their speech, the tone of voice and the speed of someone’s speech.
- Record your notes into a tape recorder so that you can listen to the notes again.
- Discuss the ideas presented in class with other students, the teacher or parents.
- Explain the concepts learned to other people such as classmates or parents.
- When studying, read information aloud.
The Verbal or linguistic style of learning includes the use of both the written and spoken word. People with a dominant verbal learning style love to read and express themselves in writing often. They have a strong vocabulary and enjoy playing word games.
- Use taped recording of lectures to hear the lecture as well as reading the notes. Including the written and the spoken word together is very powerful.
- Use lists and mnemonics in studying large lists or trying to recall information.
- Make up songs or rhymes to remember lists of information or to study for exams.
Action and touching are integral to learning for those with a kinesthetic or physical learning style. Many people with this type of learning style will think through problems as they are doing something, such as working around the house. New skills are learned by jumping in and trying out different methods to find out what works best. Sitting through lectures can be difficult.
- Use flashcards to memorize information.
- Use different color pens, pictures or color to add interest to notes.
- Add descriptive words to information to add to the sense of movement.
- Practice skills with someone else to increase interaction with material.
- Role-play concepts to increase interaction.
The logical or mathematical learning style uses reasoning to solve problems. They look for patterns in information and connections in information that doesn’t seem to be connected. People with a logical learning style will classify and organize information in order to look at it systematically. They can often do math calculations in their head. They tend to look for the logic in everything and can have difficulty understanding the overall concept.
- Instead of trying to memorize items, try to understand the meaning and reasons for the information.
- Create lists to help identify key points of lectures.
- Use word associations to help memorize information.
- Use diagrams to help understand the larger picture and concept of what is being taught.
- Set goals and time limits to help avoid over-analyzing and over-thinking tasks.
Online Assessments of Learning Styles:
VARK, A Guide to Learning Style. VARK
Learning Styles Explained, LDPride.net
The Four Learning Styles, Metamath.com
Eileen Bailey is a freelance health writer. She is the author of What Went Right: Reframe Your Thinking for a Happier Now, Idiot’s Guide to Adult ADHD, Idiot’s Guide to Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Essential Guide to Overcoming Obsessive Love, and Essential Guide to Asperger’s Syndrome. She can be found on Twitter @eileenmbailey and on Facebook at eileenmbailey.