The way people learn and process new information that they are taught is one of the many factors that makes each individual person unique. While some people learn quickly by actually performing a task for themselves, others learn better by watching someone do the task or by simply hearing the task explained. The method that each person prefers for learning is known as their own unique learning style. For teachers and parents, understanding your child's learning style can be the key to unlocking their full potential and making difficult concepts seem easy as can be.
There are three major classifications or types of learning styles recognized. However, environmental factors can also be included as a factor of every individual’s learning style. The three main types of learning styles are:
Auditory learners gain the most knowledge from what they hear. Therefore, they should be encouraged to read aloud when they must comprehend something from a book.
Auditory learners should also be encouraged to summarize orally what they have read after they have read it. Summarizing aloud will allow an auditory learner to hear the information, so they can get a better handle on it.
Requiring a verbal summary will allow both you and the auditory learner to know whether they have grasped the material successfully or if whether more time may be needed for additional study.
Auditory learners tend to retain information from funny little jingles that they make up or that can be taught. Jingles, songs and poems spoken aloud can help auditory learners remember dates and events of importance.
Videotapes and audio tapes may also help auditory learners to gain the necessary knowledge that is required of them in a given setting. Study groups where topics can be discussed and debated aloud can also help auditory learners grasp the information they are learning.
Visual learners retain knowledge best by what they see. These types of learners should use notes that they can read and review later on. They should also make use of highlighters to color code information so it is more visually appealing and easier to read.
Visual learners retain more knowledge from the use of charts, graphs, and spreadsheets than from oral lectures or other more auditory teaching aids. Computer programs and other types of visual aids can enhance their comprehension as well.
Flash cards are also a great source of learning for visual style learners. A visual learner can maximize the use of flash cards if they are responsible for creating and reviewing them.
Allow visual learners an opportunity to organize material as well so that they will have to examine information closely.
Lastly, the use of acronyms, visual chains, and mnemonics is useful for a visual learner as well.
Tactile learners retain knowledge the best when they learn through hands on activities and when they move around while learning. Therefore, it is more difficult for the tactile learner to retain knowledge by reading a textbook, either to themselves or aloud, than it is for other types of learners.
When a tactile learner must comprehend textbook material, they should be encouraged to get up and move around the room while reading. Additionally, they can be encouraged to move their hands or tap their feet while they are otherwise sitting still.
Computer usage can help tactile learners by allowing them to use their sense of touch. Tactile learners have a hard time sitting still and focusing, but concentration can be improved by allowing them to sit in the front of the classroom where there are fewer distractions.
Comprehension can also be enhanced by allowing tactile learners to point things out as they explain concepts, allowing them to exaggerate their lip movements, or having them learn from auditory sources that they can listen to while they move around.
This type of learner can learn concepts by putting them to a beat and being allowed to tap out the beat as they recite what they need to know.
Environmental factors can play an important role in all learning styles. For instance, some learners, no matter what their style, learn better when it is bright while others are bothered by excessive light. Other learners, regardless of their style, learn better when it is extremely quiet ,while noise and activity are essential for some students.
Some learners may prefer to sit quietly, while others prefer to be allowed to move around freely. If movement is not permitted because of the risk of possible distraction, these learners can be appeased if they are allowed chew gum, squeeze a stress ball, or tap their feet.
People also vary regarding their preference for the type of setting they learn best in. For instance, an informal setting may be preferred by some, while a formal setting is required by others.
Lastly, the temperature of the environment can play a role in how well someone will retain what they need to know. When someone is too hot or too cold they simply have a more difficult time concentrating and cannot learn the material necessary.