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Learning Styles

Many of the teachers in public education are unaware that different learning styles exist or if they are aware of their existences, most are unprepared to teach in a way which accommodates the distinct learning style.  Learning styles are simply different approaches or ways of learning.  Better stated, learning styles are the method through which the student learns best, and they are three in number: visual, auditory, and tactile-kinesthetic.

Visual learners learn through seeing.  These learners need to see the teacher’s body language and facial expression to fully understand the content of a lesson.  These students tend to prefer sitting at the front of the classroom to avoid visual obstructions.  They frequently think in pictures and learn best from visual displays including diagrams, illustrated textbooks, overhead transparencies, videos, and handouts.  During a lecture, visual learners prefer to either take detailed notes to absorb the information or receive a printed copy of the instructor’s lecture notes.  Visual learners are “big picture” people, and, as such, make great navigators, artists, inventors, architects, mechanics, or engineers.

The study habits of visual learners are strongest if they involve a quiet location where the student can view notes and materials.  It is imperative that these students limit their visual distractions as they scan pertinent chapters and use diagrams to reinforce sequencing.

Auditory learners learn through listening.  They learn best through verbal discussions, lectures, and dialogue.  Auditory learners may ask frequent questions in order to clarify information as they interpret the underlying meanings of speech through listening to tone of voice, pitch, and cadence.  Information in written form may have little meaning for the auditory learner until it is heard.  These learners benefit from reading text aloud and using a tape recorder as they think in words instead of pictures.  Auditory learners are wonderful speakers, and they are very persuasive.  With this skill set, auditory learners make great journalists, writers, lawyers, politicians.

When studying, auditory learners also benefit from having a quiet location where the student can view notes and materials.  Here, though, it is imperative that these students limit their auditory distractions as they read their notes aloud.  Auditory learners should never study while listening to music.  Further, these learners will greatly benefit from having a partner who will ask questions, forcing the auditory learner to verbalize the information coherently.

Tactile-Kinesthetic learners learn through moving, doing and touching.  They learn best through a hands-on approach as they need to actively explore the world around them.  They may find it hard to sit still for long periods of time and may become distracted by their need for activity and exploration.  These learners use their bodies to solve problems, and express themselves through movement.  As such, tactile-kinesthetic learners make great athletes, dancers, and actors. 

When studying, tactile-kinesthetic learners benefit from having a quiet location where the student can view notes and materials, as well.  This is where the similarities in study habits with auditory and visual learners end.  In order for tactile-kinesthetic learners to embrace academic material, a fine motor neurological gateway must be introduced.  The cleanest method in which to activate the neurological pathway for muscle movement is to make sure that they are physically comfortable, and write, write, write.  If they speak what they are writing, the tract of articulation adds an additional tactile enforcement as the muscles of the tongue and jaw are activated.

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