The Seven Learning Styles – How do you learn?
Contrary to the traditional educational framework, there is actually a diverse range of learning styles appropriate for every student. Schools generally use linguistic or logical learning styles, but other styles may be more effective for some learners.
When students are not performing as well as they could be, it is likely they just need to be taught in a different way. It is important to remember; diversity is not exclusively about qualities, beliefs and faith, it can also determine how we best learn new skills.
Some people learn through movements and hands-on activities, while some need visual information to fully understand a concept. A successful teacher is the one who does not only disseminate knowledge and encourage learning but can also identify the learning styles of students and tend to each one of them.
The idea of individualized learning styles started in the 1970s and since then has greatly influenced education. Neil Fleming’s VARK model is one of the common and widely used frameworks today. Fleming’s learning styles are categorised into visual, auditory, reading-writing and kinesthetic.
To expand on Fleming’s model, let’s have a look at Howard Gardner’s multiple intelligence theory – the seven learning styles…
1. Visual (Spatial)
Are you constantly doodling? If you find it easier to understand something if it is in a diagram, you are probably a visual learner. Knowledge or concept maps use visual symbols as a way to express knowledge, concepts, thoughts or ideas, and the relationships between them. These are a great tool for visual or spatial learners as you can draw connections or use colour coding to group ideas.
By representing information spatially and with images, students are able to focus on meaning, reorganise and group similar ideas easily, and utilise their visual memory to learn. Visual learners often pursue careers such as architecture, engineering, project management, or design.
2. Aural (Auditory-Musical)
If you need someone to tell you something out loud to understand it, you are an auditory learner. You depend on hearing the information to fully understand it, rather than just reading it from a book. Group discussions are a great way for auditory learners to grasp new ideas.
Auditory learners have the aptitude to notice audible signals like changes in tone, or pitch to name a few. For example, when memorising a phone number, an auditory learner will say it out loud first and take note of how it sounded to remember it. Aural learners often pursue careers such as musician, recording engineer, speech pathologist, or language teacher.
3. Verbal (Linguistic)
Do you love words and writing?
People who find it easier to express themselves by writing or speaking can be regarded as verbal learners. You love to write and read. You like to play on the meaning or sound of words such as tongue twisters, rhymes and so on. You’re familiar with the definitions of many words and regularly make an effort to learn more meanings of new words.
Techniques used by verbal learners involve mnemonics, scripting, role-playing and anything that involves both speaking and writing. Verbal learners often pursue public speaking, writing, administration, journalism or politics.
4. Physical (Kinesthetic)
In this style, learning happens when the learner carries out a physical activity, rather than listening to a lecture or watching a demonstration. Those who have a preference for kinesthetic learning are called ‘do-ers’ and much prefer hands-on learning. Kinesthetic learners make up about five percent of the population.
Kinesthetic learners are often interested in careers such as emergency services, safety representative, physical education, or entertainment (such as acting or dance).
5. Logical (Mathematical)
When you like using your brain for logical and mathematical reasoning, you’re a logical learner. You easily recognise patterns and can connect seemingly meaningless concepts easily. Logical learners often lean towards classifying and grouping information to help them further understand it.
You excel in numbers and are fine with doing complex calculations such as basic trigonometry off the top of your head! Logical learners could pursue careers in fields such as scientific research, accountancy, bookkeeping or computer programming.
6. Social (Interpersonal)
Other learners prefer social or interpersonal learning. If you’re at best in socializing and communicating with people, both verbally and non-verbally, this is what you are; a social learner.
People often come to you to listen and ask for advice. They do because of the apparent sensitivity you have to their feelings, moods and even motivations. You listen well and empathize with what others are thinking and going through.
Social learners may pursue counselling, teaching, training and coaching, sales, politics, and human resources among others.
7. Solitary (Intrapersonal)
You have a solitary style if you are more private, independent and introspective. Your concentration is at its best when you focus on your thoughts and feelings without the distraction of others.
Authors and researchers often have a strong solitary learning style. However, having a good solitary grounding is evident for many top performers in a range of fields. Being able to learn introspectively works well with some of the more dominant learning styles discussed above.
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