What Are the Learning Styles and Why Are They so Important?
Environmental differences affect the way students interact with each other, their families, and the world at large. They also play a
significant role in the way students think and learn. Although experts have explored a wide range of learning styles based on differing educational models and philosophies, there are three main types of learning styles that are commonly referenced by teachers:
Visual learners need to see things to learn. They take detailed notes, pay greater attention to colors and appearance, enjoy pictures and graphic illustrations, and benefit from creative presentations of learning material. Auditory learners need to hear things. The auditory learner often reads aloud when reading or studying alone. They also learn from videos. Kinesthetic/tactile learners are the hands-on type. They typically talk with their hands and learn best from projects and other hands-on experience.
Students’ different learning styles are a critical component to consider when teaching and assessing students. In an effort to meet the needs of all your students, it is important to understand the specific types of learners in your own classroom. Conducting an assessment of learning styles with students is vital to determine the most effective ways to reach the majority of the class.
What Are Some Alternative Instructional Strategies?
Give your learning style assessment to students at the beginning of the year to see how they learn most effectively. This way you can start the year off right, discovering how each of your students thinks about the material and adjusting your teaching style to cater to different types of learners. Check out these fun activities for different learning styles to use as new instructional strategies in a differentiated classroom - or with any group of diverse learners.
Most teachers write on the board or give notes orally, but there are other approaches that can help to address all three types of learners. If you have to give notes, the visual learner could have a copy of the notes to highlight important concepts. The auditory learner will benefit from hearing you speak the notes. To help the kinesthetic learner, you might allow them to take turns writing notes for the class on the board. You can also incorporate a reinforcing group project that will better address the kinesthetic learner’s needs.
Implementing Non-Traditional Assessments
With recent advances in technology like the use of tablet computers in education, new possibilities exist for the presentation of content and evaluation. Consider using digital applications for interactive activities and assessments. Many educational apps for kids include questions and tracking tools to assess students’ comprehension of content.
Of course, traditional assessments are usually conducted with basic paper and pencil. However, these types of tests are best suited to the visual learner. In many cases, these questions could be read aloud or even illustrated through practical hands-on demonstrations, experiments or projects: What color will this red paint make when mixed with blue? What will happen when I mix this chemical with another? Can you point to the stamen or draw the different parts of a flower?
The auditory learners are ideal candidates for oral evaluations. The kinesthetic learners can do a project instead of the traditional test. If you give the students additional options, you may see their scores improve. Although it may be easier to give pencil and paper tests, it is important to remember that students may not perform as well with this type of assessment.
Resources & References
NC State University: Matters of Style ASEE Prism, 6(4), 18-23 by Richard Felder
Gwhizmobile.com. Mobile Learning Assessment (MLA)