If you are a teacher, odds are that you've encountered a student that is not quite learning at the same pace as the other kids in class. If this is the case, it might have to do with something known as a "clash of learning styles." Everybody, whether they're a kid entering the 3rd grade, a student, or a professional, has their own learning style. In 1979, researcher Walter Burke and his colleagues published Teaching Through Modality Strenghts: Concepts, Practices, where they introduce what is now referred to as the VAK model (Visual, Auditory, and Kinesthetic Model)
Recently, the education sector has seeked ways to reconcile methods of teaching and learning by reconfiguring the operational and educational structure (among other things) in a cumulative effort referred to as 'personalized learning'. In "All Students Are Created Equally (and Differently)", the author discusses ways in which students can use their learning modalities to their advantage when studying for an upcoming test or alignment.
"Identifying your students as visual, auditory, or kinesthetic learners, and aligning your overall curriculum with these learning styles, will prove to be beneficial for your entire classroom. Allowing students to access information in terms they are comfortable with will increase their academic confidence." - All Students Are Created Equally
By understanding what type of learners your students are, you are able to gain a well-informed perspective on ways to implement these strategies into your lesson plans. Follow these strategies - as a rule of thumb - and recurringly modify to optimize learning.
Types of Learning Styles
Visual learners often love music and can easily remember the words to a song. They're adept at following spoken directions and they prefer to read out loud. Additionally, their level of understanding substantially increases when their teacher further explains something to them, or their class. In order to improve retention, reading comprehension, student achievement, and critical thinking it is recommended to:
- Use visual materials such as pictures, graphs, charts, etc.
- Color-code important key terms
- Replace important words with symbols
- Make sure every student has a clear view of you lecturing
Auditory learners' main way of learning is by hearing and speaking. They indicate emotion through tone, pitch, and volume of their voices. They tend to remember names but forget faces and are easily distracted by sounds. In addition, they enjoy reading dialogue, and using their listening and repeating skills in order to sort through the information that is sent to them. In order to improve academic performance, it is recommended to:
- Have a discussion with student in order to engage him/her
- Use mnemonic devices whenever possible
- Have student dictate his answer, instead of having him/her come up to write it on board
- Use storytelling to demonstrate your points
Kinesthetic learners learn best by touching and manipulatting objects. They remember best what has been done, not what they have seen or heard. They prefer direct involvement in what they are learning. They are easily distracted, and find it difficult to pay attention to auditory or visual representations. In order to improve comprehension and participation in class, it is recommended to:
- Use real life examples and case studies
- Make use of more worksheets
- Decorate classroom with posters
- Provide handouts
At the end of the day, these are all just rules of thumb and every student is bound to deviate from these modalities. Some might be a mixture of visual and auditory learners, others might be predominantly visual learners but share some characteristics with kinesthetic learners. Whatever the case may be, you can use this as a template to guide yourself through the difficult process of understanding how a group of people learn as individuals.
Have any questions, or thoughts? Make sure to leave them on the comment section. Additionally, you can ask us your questions at anytime on social media!