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Understanding Learning Styles

By: Kate Simpson BA, MA - Updated: 23 Aug 2012 | comments*Discuss
Learning Styles Visual Leaning Auditory

In the past, styles of teaching were rarely modified to cater for the needs of the individual. However, there is a growing understanding and acceptance of the idea that we all think and process information in different ways. Whether you are a visual, auditory or kinaesthetic and tactile learner, there are a whole host of learning methods for you to call upon. Understanding your most effective learning style or styles is key to unlocking your personal potential.

What is a Visual Learner?

Visual learners work best when information is presented in a visual manner. Such learners respond well to images, graphs and maps. If you find that writing information down and seeing it on the page aids your memory, it is likely that you are a visual learner. You might find that as soon as you hear information, you picture it in your mind as a written word or an image. You might be drawn to symbols and coding systems, charts and well-presented lists. If you find your teacher's use of an overhead projector or a white board particularly useful, visual learning is likely to be your preferred style too.

What is an Auditory Learner?

If you respond best to information when it is presented to you in an oral manner, through the form of a speech or lecture, you are likely to be an auditory learner. If you like to learn by using audio tapes, memory chants and songs, you probably fall into this category. You might find that sounds and sound effects are particularly important to you and that you are able to clearly remember things that you have heard other people say. If you find that you are drawn to repeating information in order to help you commit it to memory, you are likely to be an auditory learner. It is possible that you might also find information difficult to assimilate when it is simply presented visually on the page and that, in order to process text, you rely upon reading it aloud and turning it into sound. If you are an expert story or joke teller and if you like to solve problems by talking them through, you are probably an auditory learner.

What is a Kinaesthetic or Tactile Learner?

If you like to learn by 'doing', the chances are you are a kinaesthetic learner. If you are keen on acting and playing games to aid your learning, this is probably the paragraph that best describes you. You might prefer group work and interacting with others in the learning environment. At the same time, you might find working on individual projects useful too. Building 3D models to illustrate information and ideas might be your style. A tactile leaner likes to learn through touch and, as such, is similar to a kinaesthetic learner. Penchants for making and doing and learning in a hands-on manner all point towards tactile and kinaesthetic learners.

Whilst working out your individual learning style is of vital importance, it is helpful to remember that these categories are not set in stone. For example, you might find that you are both a kinaesthetic learner and an auditory learner or that you are a visual learner who betrays some symptoms of being an auditory learner too. The secret is to discover which learning styles work best for you personally and to call upon them regularly in order to get the most from your education.

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