Identifying Different Types of Learners
It is no exaggeration to say that the human brain is an impressive organ. No other brain in the animal kingdom is capable of generating the kind of higher consciousness associated with human ingenuity, with our ability to make plans besides other abilities. The human brain thinks and even grasps things in different ways and styles. Everyone has a mix of learning styles. Some people may find that they have a dominant style of learning, with far less use of the other styles. Others may find that they use different styles in different circumstances. There is no right mix. Nor are your styles fixed. You can develop ability in less dominant styles, as well as further develop styles that you already use well.
Everyone processes and learns new information in different ways. There are three main cognitive learning styles: visual, auditory, and kinesthetic. Understanding how you learn can help maximize time you spend studying by incorporating different techniques to custom fit various subjects, concepts, and learning objectives. Each preferred learning style has methods that fit the different ways an individual may learn best.
- Visual learning style
Visual learners learn best by looking at graphics, watching a demonstration, or reading. For them, it’s easy to look at charts and graphs, but they may have difficulty focusing while listening to an explanation. They can read body language well and has a good perception of aesthetics. People with this learning style tend to remember things that are written down and learn better in lectures by watching them.
- Auditory style
Auditory learners would rather listen to things being explained than read about them. Reciting information out loud and having music in the background may be a common study method. Other noises may become a distraction resulting in a need for a relatively quiet place. People with this learning style often prefer to be told how to do things and then summarizes the main points out loud to help with memorization. They tend to concentrate better with soft music playing in the background and have talents in music.
- Kinesthetic style
Kinesthetic learners are characterized by the following characteristics:
- They tend to be the slowest talkers of all.
- They tend to be slow to make decisions
- They use all their senses to engage in learning.
- They learn by doing and solving real-life problems.
- They like hands-on approaches to things and learn through trial and error.
Kinesthetic learners are most successful when totally engaged with the learning activity. They acquire information fastest when participating in a science lab, drama presentation, skit, field trip, dance, or other active activity. Because of the high numbers of kinesthetic learners, education is shifting toward a more hands-on approach; manipulatives and other “props” are incorporated into almost every school subject, from physical education to language arts. Hands-on teaching techniques are gaining recognition because they address the challenging needs of kinesthetic learners, as well as the diverse needs of auditory and visual learners.
As research and teacher inservicing continue, classrooms will continue to integrate more of these techniques. Once students understand their learning styles, they can better adapt to their learning environment. Understanding learning styles is only a first step in maximizing potential and overcoming learning differences.