Understanding Learning Styles
Everyone thinks and learns a little bit differently, and their cognitive strengths and weaknesses form the foundation of each person's learning style. The four most widely recognized learning styles are visual, auditory, read and write, and kinesthetic. Understanding these learning styles is crucial for teachers trying to make sure that they reach every student, but it can also be helpful to think about your own learning style when you want to teach yourself new things.
Visual learners learn through the things they see, either by reading text or seeing pictures or graphics. Hearing information in lectures isn't usually the best way for a visual learner to learn something: They need to see it to understand and remember it. When they need to remember something they've learned, a visual learner can often picture the details in their mind. Flashcards are an ideal learning tool for someone who learns visually, and a visual learner might also benefit from drawing pictures or graphs to represent the information. Color-coding information can also be helpful for a visual learner.
Anyone who learns best by hearing is an auditory learner. This type of learner has an easier time understanding and analyzing information that's spoken to them. Hearing a lecture or even reading a textbook aloud would be helpful for someone with this learning style. Any opportunity to hear information rather than seeing it will help an auditory learner, who will likely retain the information more readily. Making recordings to listen to can be a helpful study technique for these people.
Read and Write Learning
Someone who prefers the read and write learning style tends to learn best from reading information. A read and write learner might be an avid note-taker, since this translates information that they hear into a format that they can read instead. Jotting down details on sticky notes, writing explanations of charts and diagrams, and making notes in the margins of books are ways that read and write learners help themselves to remember information.
A kinesthetic learner is a person who learns through moving their body, usually by touching or manipulating something their their hands. Kinesthetic learners need to touch, build, disassemble, or examine things to learn. A kinesthetic learner is often an active person who moves around and gestures with their hands while speaking. Doing hands-on projects and experiments, drawing, and building are good learning activities for a kinesthetic learner. They might also find that pacing, tapping their foot, or chewing gum while studying helps them to retain information.
When people are taught using a style that doesn't match how their brains learn, the results are often frustrating for teachers and students alike. Students might have a hard time paying attention in class, find that they don't like a class, or do poorly on exams. Teachers can make their efforts more effective by working to incorporate a variety of teaching methods and activities that cater to all different learning styles, helping everyone to learn in the way that works best for them.