Seven Different Types of Learning Styles
And How To Teach To Them All
1.) Visual Learners. Students who are natural visual learners will be better taught with as many pictures and imagery for explanation of concepts. If you are teaching them geography, be sure to include plenty of maps. The same approach is true for history teachers. There are so many artistic depictions of all eras in human history, you shouldn’t have a problem adding some visual elements to any kind of lecture or presentation.
Plus, about every type of learner or listener enjoys having a visual aid when listening to a presentation meant to teach or inform – or even entertain. You can also show clips of movies, or if you are teaching a writing class, show how a film adapts from the literature it was based on.
Since you can’t always plug pictures and images into every type of classroom experience, you can use a whiteboard or chalkboard (if your class still has one) to jot notes or key points. This will give them visual cues they might otherwise gloss over, or lump into other information that might not be as key to the point of the lesson.
The way you speak to different types of learners in the classroom will also come into play, if you make a conscious effort.
Visual learners also respond to words that include cues that incite the parts of their brain that get their wheels turning. For example, if you are instructing a student to take initiative and work through a process or concept you have presented, you could say “Let’s see how you would solve this problem. Feel free to use additional paper to map out what you’re thinking, if needed.” You can see how this might free their mind to utilize its natural want to visualize what its thinking.
2.) Aural Learners. Learners who respond primarily to sound can be challenging for teachers who aren’t teaching a lesson about music. But there are techniques you can use to stimulate students who respond to sound, if you do your homework.
These students are ones who know how to sing, play in the school band, or have their own musical hobbies. Music is also known to illicit strong emotional feelings and responses from these types of students. Music they associate with events and times of their lives can sweep them back into their minds, where they will almost re-live the times and places they relate to the sounds they are hearing.
So, how do you stimulate these kinds of students…
Without singing a song about algebra, or earth science – or whatever subject you are teaching them? It doesn’t have to be as complicated as it may seem. This article from mathinsider.com, gives several tips for helping auditory learners pick up on key mathematical concepts. A lot of math teachers may scratch their heads at how to make numbers an aural experience for students.
But think about it:
Isn’t your own voice a tool for aural learning? Isn’t that what you use to teach every day as your main tool for communication? And don’t your students have their own voice they can use as a tool as well? If so, then you have all you need to get started with a few basics.
First, encourage them to use their own voice, and share with them some knowledge about what you know about different types of learners in the classroom. Students are trained to primarily listen, and only speak with they have a question for the teacher, or while working in group assignments with other students.
How often do we really tell them to use their own voice? That’s why experts recommend encouraging your aural responsive students to write down their notes and read them back to themselves aloud.
They can also opt for audio books, when they are available as an alternative to text editions of required reading. You can let them record the lesson, so they can play it back. Even students who may be naturally inclined to other types of learning may benefit from the convenience of auditory learning tools. Playing back your lecture while running on the treadmill or driving home from school can be a good way to let the information sink in a little further. The authors of the article referenced above also give some great tips for visual and tactile learners as well.
3.) Verbal Learners. When you first hear ‘verbal learner’ as a teacher, you might think this is the easy one, compared to the other different types of learning styles.
After all, you talk, they listen, they learn, right?
Not so simple, but this is a pretty conducive student in relation to many types of curriculum. Verbal instruction, as well as writing activities inspire these students to absorb information most effectively. Students with strong verbal learning skills often become journalists, other types of writers, public speakers, and teachers themselves.
That’s why activities where these students get a chance to speak or present can be effective in bringing out their natural ability to verbalize information and give them confidence. Experts recommend many types of techniques for these students, that even include others who may not be as verbally inclined.
Here are some ways you can be sure to integrate verbal learning techniques into your classroom experience:
- Attach acronyms or mnemonic devices to lessons, which can help them remember more effectively.
- Create activities where these students get to role-play, read aloud or get dramatic. This will make your lessons more fun for everyone, and may even help students who are more hands-on, physical learners to thrive in the experience as well. For instance, let’s say you are teaching a business class. You can create an exercise that goes along with a lesson about making sales pitches and what to focus on to get customers on board with your products. You can have students act out a situation where they are selling a product to another student. Or you can have students pretend they are conducting a television or radio program where there is audience participation. This will give students who respond to verbal learning techniques
4.) Physical Learners. Have you ever noticed people, or your students, who use their hands more than usual when they speak? They seem like they’re always in motion, and always have some form of physical movement like a conductor with their words.
These individuals are physical learners, and they express themselves in the same way. These types of learners respond to words that incite feeling and physical activity. They want to understand what it feels like to go through the motions of what they are learning.
There are many ways you can create physical exercises to help these types of students learn. Not only can you create activities where they are physically moving. But, you can use objects, like puzzles or other small objects to get them engaged with their learning.
Another tactic is one many teachers don’t think of. You can give them pen and paper and have them map out their own thoughts and problem-solve by hand. After all, the act of writing is a mental and physical exercise. As you can see, these different types of learning styles vary greatly!
5.) Logical Learners. These learners are the ones who are always making lists, getting organized, and trying to find the link between one piece of the puzzle and another. Logical learners are a natural fit for mathematics, science, and other logic based subjects in school.
When you are teaching these learners, they can be great leaders or naturally take on a project manager type role in lab assignments, thanks to their want to put things in a neat, orderly way. These students can also be challenged to think from different points of view. They are naturals at seeking facts, and can often be found winning matches in chess club or outperforming their opponents in debate or math tournaments. They also pursue such careers as engineers, teachers of math and sciences, and other related occupations.
To create work that helps these students with different types of learning styles learn, challenge them to solve problems, and unlock the mystery of their education on their own. They need to be mentally challenged, and thrive off solving critical thinking issues. That is why it is also beneficial for these learners to step outside their comfort zone. Challenge them to use the creative side of their brains as well, to understand that sometimes there isn’t always a right and a wrong. Sometimes there are only opinions.
6.) Social Learners. Social learners are natural group workers, and are the kinds of students who seem to be everywhere in school – at all the extracurricular activities, sports, band, debate, and socializing with teachers and students throughout the day. Maybe that’s a bit of a full plate for one student, but you get the point.
These learners will respond to teachers who are inquisitive and ask what they are thinking and feeling about key topics and concepts. The more you verbally engage these students one-on-one and among their peers, the more they will thrive in your classroom. Even simple acts like reading literature out loud or acting out scenes of plays, or having students present on topics can be great ways to engage these learners.
7.) Solitary Learners. Some people think that solitary learners are shy or sometimes rude because they often keep to themselves. They may come across as introverted, compared to the other different types of learners in the classroom.
Solitary learners are more comfortable sorting out problems on their own, and their independence should be celebrated and fostered in healthy ways. As a teacher, you can engage your solitary learners by having them tap into activities and lessons that allow them to sink into their skin. If you give them a place to feel comfortable for at least part of their day, they will have an easier time coming out of their shell in group assignments or during presentations.
Solitary learners are not always shy. If a solitary learner is mum during a lecture or discussion, they may be lost in their mind, trying to figure things out as if the rest of the world doesn’t exist. That’s when you can ask questions to draw out what they are thinking and feeling.
These learners are also very concerned with goals and outcomes in curriculum. So be ready to explain exactly what they can expect to achieve in your class.