Learning Styles Every person learns differently. From kindergartner to postgraduate levels, only students can do the earning, and they do it in their own particular, individual learning styles. Some children pick something up the first time they hear it. Others may not grasp a concept until theyve had the chance to see it in print, or to write it themselves. These people all use different learning modalities. There are four basic ways in which people learn. Auditory learners gain information with the use of their ears.
Visual learning takes place with the use of our eyes. Kinesthetic learning derives from the use of our muscles and skin. Photographic learners use all of their senses to obtain information. Everyone gains information by all of these means, yet some people tend to favor one aspect over another, or rely more heavily on one combination. For example, writing down (kinesthetic) what we hear (auditory) combine two modalities or styles. A majority of people learn visually, so visual aids are a must. It is best to teach to all of the first three modalities when introducing a lesson with emphasis on the visual. You can use learning modalities in your teaching by finding out how individual students learn, and letting them know what their strongest modes are.
They can learn to use this information for themselves, and you can encourage them to strengthen modalities that may be weak. The best thing that teachers can do is provide instruction, tools, and an environment that allows them to learn through the channels that work best for them. Teaching to learning styles can be viewed as using a variety of methods to reach all students. Teachers who desire to enhance learning to optimal levels will want a deeper understanding of learning styles and ways to accommodate them. This involves an awareness of learning style theories, an understanding of ones own learning preferences, and knowing how to match instruction to learning styles.
When we speak of learning styles, we most often describe sensory modalities through which individuals receive, process, store, and communicate information. They categorize students as visual, auditory, or haptic (or kinesthetic) learners, while acknowledging that these labels indicate preferences and strengths rather than absolute descriptors. For example, university students, studying the same challenging article, might use color to highlight and separate main ideas (visual), explain the main concepts to a friend (auditory), or manipulate ideas written on notecards to show relationships (kinesthetic). While these students approach the reading assignment differently, they share the experience of being actively engaged in the task. The most important message in all these learning style classifications is that students knowledge of their particular learning styles can lead to more productive studying. Conversely, difficulties arise when there is a lack of self-understanding and appropriate study strategy development. (Levine, 1997) Research on learning styles implicates that instructors should teach to the individual styles of their students, at the post secondary level this suggestion cannot translate to separate lessons for individual students.
We can make meaningful pedagogical changes such as incorporating additional visuals into lectures or providing handouts with sufficient margins for note taking. With increased sensitivity to the variety of learning styles in our classrooms, we can direct our students toward self-understanding. We can share the lessons of scholarship that we have learned on our own academic journeys. The result will be increased numbers of students who are actively engaged participants in our intellectual community. (U-Penn.com, 1998).