What's your learning style?
If you are an auditory learner, you learn by hearing and listening. You understand and remember things you have heard. You store information by the way it sounds, and you have an easier time understanding spoken instructions than written ones. You often learn by reading out loud because you have to hear it or speak it in order to know it. This is one of the Learning Styles available.
As an auditory learner, you probably hum or talk to yourself or others if you become bored. People may think you are not paying attention, even though you may be hearing and understanding everything being said.
Here are some things that auditory learners like you can do to learn better.
- Sit where you can hear.
- Have your hearing checked on a regular basis.
- Use flashcards to learn new words; read them out loud.
- Read stories, assignments, or directions out loud.
- Record yourself spelling words and then listen to the recording.
- Have test questions read to you out loud.
- Study new material by reading it out loud.
Remember that you need to hear things, not just see things, in order to learn well.
If you are a visual learner, you learn by reading or seeing pictures. You understand and remember things by sight. You can picture what you are learning in your head, and you learn best by using methods that are primarily visual. You like to see what you are learning. This is on of the second Learning Styles available.
As a visual learner, you are usually neat and clean. You often close your eyes to visualize or remember something, and you will find something to watch if you become bored. You may have difficulty with spoken directions and may be easily distracted by sounds. You are attracted to color and to spoken language (like stories) that is rich in imagery.
Here are some things that visual learners like you can do to learn better:
- Sit near the front of the classroom. (It won’t mean you’re the teacher’s pet!)
- Have your eyesight checked on a regular basis.
- Use flashcards to learn new words.
- Try to visualize things that you hear or things that are read to you.
- Write down key words, ideas, or instructions.
- Draw pictures to help explain new concepts and then explain the pictures.
- Color code things.
- Avoid distractions during study times.
Remember that you need to see things, not just hear things, to learn well.
If you are a tactile learner, you learn by touching and doing. You understand and remember things through physical movement. You are a “hands-on” learner who prefers to touch, move, build, or draw what you learn, and you tend to learn better when some type of physical activity is involved. You need to be active and take frequent breaks, you often speak with your hands and with gestures, and you may have difficulty sitting still. This is on of the third Learning Styles available.
As a tactile learner, you like to take things apart and put things together, and you tend to find reasons to tinker or move around when you become bored. You may be very well coordinated and have good athletic ability. You can easily remember things that were done but may have difficulty remembering what you saw or heard in the process. You often communicate by touching, and you appreciate physically expressed forms of encouragement, such as a pat on the back.
Here are some things that tactile learners like you can do to learn better:
- Participate in activities that involve touching, building, moving, or drawing.
- Do lots of hands-on activities like completing art projects, taking walks, or acting out stories.
- It’s OK to chew gum, walk around, or rock in a chair while reading or studying.
- Use flashcards and arrange them in groups to show relationships between ideas.
- Trace words with your finger to learn spelling (finger spelling).
- Take frequent breaks during reading or studying periods (frequent, but not long).
- It’s OK to tap a pencil, shake your foot, or hold on to something while learning.
- Use a computer to reinforce learning through the sense of touch.
Remember that you learn best by doing, not just by reading, seeing, or hearing.
The term “learning styles” speaks to the understanding that every student learns differently. Technically, an individual’s learning style refers to the preferential way in which the student absorbs, processes, comprehends and retains information. For example, when learning how to build a clock, some students understand the process by following verbal instructions, while others have to physically manipulate the clock themselves. This notion of individualized learning styles has gained widespread recognition in education theory and classroom management strategy. Individual learning styles depend on cognitive, emotional and environmental factors, as well as one’s prior experience. In other words: everyone’s different. It is important for educators to understand the differences in their students’ learning styles, so that they can implement best practice strategies into their daily activities, curriculum and assessments. Many degree programs, specifically higher level ones like a doctorate of education, integrate different learning styles and educational obstacles directly into program curriculum.
One of the most accepted understandings of learning styles is that student learning styles fall into three categories: Visual Learners, Auditory Learners and Kinesthetic Learners. These learning styles are found within educational theorist Neil Fleming’s VARK model of Student Learning. VARK is an acronym that refers to the four types of learning styles: Visual, Auditory, Reading/Writing Preference, and Kinesthetic. (The VARK model is also referred to as the VAK model, eliminating Reading/Writing as a category of preferential learning.) The VARK model acknowledges that students have different approaches to how they process information, referred to as “preferred learning modes.” The main ideas of VARK are outlined in Learning Styles Again: VARKing up the right tree! (Fleming & Baume, 2006)
- Students’ preferred learning modes have significant influence on their behavior and learning.
- Students’ preferred learning modes should be matched with appropriate learning strategies.
- Information that is accessed through students’ use of their modality preferences shows an increase in their levels of comprehension, motivation, and metacognition.
Identifying your students as visual, auditory, reading/writing or kinesthetic learners, and aligning your overall curriculum with these learning styles, will prove to be beneficial for your entire classroom. Allowing students to access information in terms they are comfortable with will increase their academic confidence.
Referred to as SWOT (“Study Without Tears”), Flemings provides advice on how students can use their learning modalities and skills to their advantage when studying for an upcoming test or assignment.
Visual SWOT Strategies
- Utilize graphic organizers such as charts, graphs, and diagrams.
- Redraw your pages from memory.
- Replace important words with symbols or initials.
- Highlight important key terms in corresponding colors.
Aural SWOT Strategies
- Record your summarized notes and listen to them on tape.
- Talk it out. Have a discussion with others to expand upon your understanding of a topic.
- Reread your notes and/or assignment out loud.
- Explain your notes to your peers/fellow “aural” learners.
Read/Write SWOT Strategies
- Write, write and rewrite your words and notes.
- Reword main ideas and principles to gain a deeper understanding.
- Organize diagrams, charts, and graphic organizers into statements.
Kinesthetic SWOT Strategies
- Use real life examples, applications and case studies in your summary to help with abstract concepts.
- Redo lab experiments or projects.
- Utilize pictures and photographs that illustrate your idea.
How do you learn best? Complete Fleming’s VARK Questionnaire External link to find out what kind of learner you are.