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- Learning styles are cognitive, affective and physiological factors that clearly define how a learner copes in a given environment.
- Auditory Learning Style
- Auditory learning style entails using hearing senses to learn. It involves a teacher talking to learners. In other words, the learner requires information to be read aloud.
- Visual Learning Style
- This learning style requires a learner to use visuals to learn. These visuals include diagrams, charts, pictures and films. In other words, visual learners make use of their eyes to learn.
- Kinesthetic learners learn best by touching, feeling and experiencing things and material at hand.
- Learning styles are important in that they allow people to know and gauge forms of mental representations.
According to Keefe (1979), learning styles are cognitive, affective, and physiological factors that clearly define how a learner copes in a given environment. In other words, they are composite features that gauge whether a learner perceives, responds, and works well in a given learning environment. Learning styles can also be defined as educational conditions that favor learning (Felicetti and Stewart, 1992). It is, therefore, necessary to note that learning styles focus on how learners prefer to learn. This means learning styles should not be used to categorize people into learning divisions because people can learn in any of the learning styles. However, people prefer one style to the other.
Auditory Learning Style
The auditory learning style entails using hearing senses to learn. Auditory learners prefer the traditional mode of teaching, which takes a lecture form of teaching. It involves a teacher talking to learners. In other words, the learner requires information to be read aloud. In addition, when verbally presenting information, learners learn best when oral communication techniques are employed. These include voice tone variation to create different meanings.
Auditory learners exhibit unique characteristics. For example, when reading, they prefer to read aloud to themselves. During such a time, they perform two tasks; reading and, at the same time, listen to themselves. In a classroom setup, the auditory learners are not afraid to speak. They participate by asking and answering questions. Moreover, they portray expert explaining skills and, therefore, always want to study in groups. Their other learning strengths are that they are capable learners of foreign languages and grammar. They also follow spoken instructions well. Outside the classroom, an auditory learner likes listening to music, watching movies, and enjoys stage performance, such as acting. They also recall the names of other people and things, including those they hear in movies (Coffield et al. 2004).
They also employ techniques for succeeding in their studies. These include recording lectures as well as taping notes taken in order to listen to them. They also try to recall facts, and they do so by repeating aloud several times and using word association. These learners use audiotapes and watch videos while practicing the language. They attend discussion groups in which they participate actively.
Visual Learning Style
This learning style requires a learner to use visuals to learn. These visuals include diagrams, charts, pictures, and films. In other words, visual learners make use of their eyes to learn. They prefer seeing things and internalizing them rather than hearing them. In the classroom setup, the visual learners prefer written notes and assignments that take to-do lists of nature. It is a reliable method of teaching because the majority of learners are capable of seeing. The learners under this category prefer to watch the teacher demonstrate things and videotapes.
Teachers of visual learners should emphasize visuals such as showing and demonstrating, as clearly as possible. That is, every step of the demonstration should follow all procedures and avoid short cuts. Just like the monkey concept, the teacher should ensure that the learners observe and do exactly as he demonstrates (Vincent, 2001).
Visual learners’ characteristics include learning or studying with charts and diagrams. In class, they prefer reading in a quiet environment. They are good at grammar and especially spelling. They exhibit a taste for colors and fashion as well as an interest in sign language. Since they don’t learn much in lectures, they prefer looking at what they did in class at their own time so as to fully understand.
To succeed in their studies, visual learners watch videos, take notes, outline reading, use highlighters, circle, or underline words. In addition, these learners prefer diagrams, map drawings, and flashcards. They also copy everything that the teacher demonstrates.
Kinesthetic learners learn best by touching, feeling, and experiencing things and material at hand. Good examples of these types of learners are kindergarten learners. They prefer touching and moving everything they come across. It is important to note that this learning style is maintained by the majority of learners, even as they become adult learners. This is not the case with other types of learning, such as visual learners who drop the style after elementary year and adopt auditory (Hayman-Abello and Warriner, 2002).
According to scholars, most of the learners prefer this learning style. This is because the learners are involved fully in the learning activity. Examples of learning activities that require active participation are science lab, theatre performance, and field trips. Teachers of kinesthetic learners should always give their learners a tactile sense of what to do. Repetition of what is being performed also helps the students to learn well.
Kinesthetic learners are said to be good in sports and other field activities such as science lab in which they play a role. In the classroom setup, these learners are not good at spelling and taking notes. Instead, they prefer studying in noisy environments and do not concentrate for long hours. They also prefer building models when learning. In addition, they like studying with others, such as in discussion groups. They also employ memory games and utilize flashcards when studying.
Combination of Learning Styles
There is no learning style that can be said to be effective than the other. For this reason, the strong points of each style should be incorporated in learning to enhance learning. A combination of various learning styles is important because it results in a style that is innovative, and that involves diverse learning styles of learners. Merrill (2000) says that before using any learning style, it is important to understand the goals and objectives of learning. This helps one to come up with the best learning style.
There is successful learning when two or more learning styles are combined. For instance, when visual and auditory learning styles are combined, the learner employs listening skills such as noting the tonal variation to get different meanings and, at the same time, observe body movements to get extra information (Marzano, 1998).
Kinesthetic learning style is the most incorporated in other learning styles. Many teachers are now emphasizing a hands-on approach to learning. This means that education is not based on a physical approach, but it is taking a language arts approach. It is combined with other learning styles because apart from meeting its learner’s needs, it addresses other diverse needs, including those of auditory and visual learners.
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Learning styles are important in that they allow people to know and gauge forms of mental representations. However, the styles should be perceived as preferences by the learners and not a way of dividing the learners according to their learning capabilities. Learning styles should be used to enlighten the learners about their weaknesses and strengths and those of others. Learning styles should be used hand in hand so as to complement each other.
Coffield, F. et al. (2004). Learning Styles and Pedagogy in Post-16 Learning: A Systematic and Critical Review: Learning and Skills Research Centre. Web.
Hayman-Abello, S.E. & Warriner, E.M. (2002). Child Clinical/Pediatric Neuropsychology: Some Recent Advances. Annual Review of Psychology, 53: 309-339.
Keefe, J. W. (1979). Learning Style: An Overview In NASSP’s Student Learning Styles: Diagnosing And Proscribing Programs. Reston, VA. National Association of Secondary School Principles.
Marzano, R. J. (1998). A Theory-Based Meta-Analysis of Research on Instruction. New York: Mid-continent Regional Educational Laboratory.
Merrill, D. (2000). Instructional Strategies and Learning Styles: Which takes Precedence? Trends and Issues in Instructional Technology. London: Prentice Hall.
Stewart, K. L., & Felicetti, L. A. (1992). Learning styles of marketing majors. Educational Research Quarterly, 15(2): 15-23.
Vincent, A., & Ross, D. (2001). Learning Style Awareness. Journal of Research on Computing in Education, 33: 1-10.