Learning Styles and Students
“The term learning styles is widely used to describe how learners gather, sift through, interpret, organize, come to conclusions about, and “store” information for further use (Vanderbilt).”
When discussing learning styles, we often hear of the main 3 learning styles, but did you know that there are actually EIGHT! That’s right, eight! Knowing your learning style, or combination of your learning styles, can be very beneficial to your academic path. The eight types of learning styles are: visual, auditory, kinesthetic, reading/writing, logical, social, solitary, and nature learning.
Teachers typically focus on four main learning styles, usually referred to as VARK, because they are more simplistic and common: visual, auditory, reading/writing, and kinesthetic (BAU).
Many students do not fall into one learning, style, but are a mixture of multiple. There is no harm in expanding the pool to include extra learning styles that will help students better understand themselves! The separate categories of learning styles helps students understand and exemplify their preference, or way they learn and study best. When students feel as though they are studying in a way they prefer, they are more likely to study regularly and take pride in their work.
Let’s take a look at learning styles, you may see yourself in some of these descriptions!
Visual learners learn best by visuals, by seeing what they are being taught. For example, through pictures, graphs, videos, maps, charts, etc. Some tips for visual learners include visually showing the relationship between things being studied, flashcards, color coding notes, drawing pictures associated with new concepts, making lists or focusing on key ideas.
“Auditory learners are individuals who learn better when they take in information in auditory form when it is heard or spoken. They are prone to sorting their ideas after speaking, rather than thinking ideas through before. Since, to them, saying things out loud helps them understand the concept.” Auditory learners learn best through reading out loud, discussions, recording lectures, explaining orally, or simply listening.
Kinesthetic learners are those who learn by doing, by being involved with hands-on learning. Kinesthetic learners learn best by performing experiments, projects, demonstrating, practice, and learning in groups.
Reading/writing learners learn through words by reading or writing things down. These individuals will tend to perform best on written assessments. They learn by note-taking, reading, books, studying, and writing summaries.
Logical learners “depend on logic and analytical skills to understand a particular subject. These types of learners search for connections, causes, patterns, and results in their learning. A teacher can engage and motivate analytical learners by posing questions that require interpretation, using material that activates problem-solving skills and stimulating students to reach conclusions based on facts or reasoning”.
Social learners learn best through social interaction, such as working with others and engaging in student interaction. Working together in groups works best because you are able to bounce ideas off of one another and socialize simultaneously.
Solitary learners are the opposite of social learners, they learn best by studying alone. They also learn best by individual activities rather than group work. The best ways for solitary learners to learn is by doing things independently, working in a quiet place, self-reflection, and problem solving.
“These types of learners excel when in contact with nature. A nature learner’s ideal study environment is a calm and relaxing environment. While learning in nature may not always be possible, teachers can still nurture this learning style in students by assigning hands-on activities, having classes outdoors when possible, and using nature examples when explaining a new lesson.”
Why Should We Know Our Learning Styles?
Knowing a student’s learning style, while not exactly necessary, is a great addition to any academic plan! When students are aware of their preferred method of learning, they are more apt to experience benefits in multiple areas of their life. Academically speaking, students are able to maximize their learning potential, take control of their own learning, better understand how to overcome the limitations of poor instruction, and reduce stress and frustration sometimes associated with education. Personally, students may feel an increased sense of self-worth, boost in confidence, feel more in control of their brain and learning, and be inspired to be more curious in daily life. In their future professional careers, students may be able to manage teams more successfully, improve interoffice communications, guide presentation delivery, and improve skills of persuasion. Overall the benefits of exploring a student’s learning style are endless, especially for students planning to attend a four year university where curriculum management may be self-led (SkillHire).
How Do I Help My Student Find Their Learning Style?
1 . Allow for Experimentation
As adults, we all have tried-and-true methods that we used to study in school. My mother's favorite sentence when studying was "let me call it out."
While this method did work well for me, it is important to allow our students to experiment with alternate studying methods. Of course, not studying it not one of those methods. Still encourage and guide your student, but give them the freedom to try new methods of studying that they find exciting or at the least slightly enjoyable.
2 . Review Past Methods
If your student has tried many different studying methods before, review their grades. Which method seemed to work well for them? Which methods absolutely tanked? Those results will give you a framework on where to begin looking for a better study habits. Really review those past activities...where they visual in nature? Did copying multiplication facts 10 times each do wonders? Those fit into learning styles!
3 . Ask Them!
When you begin your journey of discovery, ask your child what makes studying easier for them. Half of the battle is making sure school work is pleasant for the child. If the student is interested, they will automatically be more in-tune to the subject being studied.
Mcdaniel, R. (1970, June 10). Learning Styles. Vanderbilt University. Retrieved January 24, 2023, from https://cft.vanderbilt.edu/guides-sub-pages/learning-styles-preferences/
University, B. A. (2022, December 23). 8 types of learning styles: The definitive guide. Bay Atlantic University - Washington, D.C. Retrieved January 24, 2023, from https://bau.edu/blog/types-of-learning-styles/
Team, M. (2020, January 29). Benefits of knowing your learning style: Skill Hire. Employment Training Agency | Skill Hire. Retrieved January 24, 2023, from https://www.skillhire.com.au/blog/benefits-of-knowing-your-learning-style/