Learning is the process of acquiring new knowledge, behaviours, skills, values, attitudes and so on. The ability to learn is possessed by humans, animals, and in recent times some machines.
The human brain inputs, analyses and stores information via the five senses which are sight, touch, sound, smell and taste.
For learning the most commonly used senses will be sight, touch and sound. A combination of these or all of the channels is used in the learning process and has led to the development of different learning theories or models.
The preferred or most effective way a child or individual learns is called the predominant or preferred learning style. Identifying your child’s predominant learning style will help a parent or teacher know which method to deploy mainly while teaching the child for easy, faster and effective learning.
Learning styles refer to a range of methods used by humans to learn. They are different theories on learning styles namely;
- David Kolb’s model
- Peter Honey and Alan Mumford’s model
- Learning modalities by Walter Burke Barbe and colleagues. They proposed three learning modalities [ visual, auditory, and kinesthetic (VAK)].
- Neil Fleming’s expanded the VAK model to the VARK model
- Anthony Gregorc’s model.
- Cognitive approaches by Anthony Grasha and Sheryl Riechmann
- The National Association of Secondary School Principals (NASSP) defined three broad categories of learning styles namely cognitive, affective, and physiological.
- Memletics learning style
The commonly used learning style theory/model Is the VARK model by Neil Fleming. The VARK model and Memletics learning style will be discussed further in this article.
Visual Learning Style
This is a style of learning using the sense of vision. Visual learners remember and learn what they see the most.
They tend to visualise what people say in their minds in order to understand. They are more into watching films or going to the cinema.
Visual learners can easily forget people’s names but rarely forget faces. To help visual learners learn fast they should incorporate visual objects, images and pictures into their learning experience, such as drawing and creating diagrams.
One advantage of the visual learning style is that the human brain processes visual information faster than text. Consequently, visual learners may process and store information more rapidly.
Learning strategies for visual learners
Encourage your child to draw diagrams, charts graphs and so on by the side of their notes to enhance their understanding.
Use different coloured pens, highlighters, or underlining to enhance understanding of important or key information.
Teach the child more with illustrative diagrams and pictures than using verbal lessons alone.
Encourage the child about the importance of looking at their teacher when they are teaching, this will help them focus and limit distractions.
Teachers should use gestures, hand motions and body language while teaching students. This will help the predominant visual learners to understand better.
Also in this era of technology, teachers can variety of pictures, images, graphs and other visual content during teaching sessions
Auditory learning style
This is the process of learning via the sense of sound. A child who is a predominantly auditory learner will assimilate more information via listening and speaking.
Do you talk to yourself most time when you are thinking hard, studying, or trying to solve a problem? If the above best describes you, then you are likely a predominantly auditory learner.
An auditory learner will prefer to listen very attentively in class and may augment with reading. Such a child or individual would love to listen to music and may prefer to produce audio clips of information in order to understand better.
Auditory learners have an advantage in the traditional classroom setting because lessons are most delivered in audio format.
An auditory learner will not want to miss classes because their understanding is facilitated via attentive listening during class teaching. This category of learners will also prefer to discuss with others a particular subject.
Individuals who are predominantly auditory learners might do better if such a child finds themselves where teaching is mainly via audio classes.
Learning strategies for auditory learners
Encourage the child to read out to themselves while learning, this will make it easier for a predominantly audio learner to learn fast.
When memorising the child should repeat the words or sentence severally rather than just reading the sentence repeatedly in a book.
In the classroom the teacher has to deploy different learning styles in her teaching, however predominant audio learners will prefer things explained verbally to reading the information on paper.
The key points should be summarized verbally before writing them down. Also, discussion among peers is also helpful to predominantly audio learners.
The homework period is not a quiet moment for the audio learner. Encourage the child to read out and repeat the words in order to facilitate learning.
Ask them questions about their homework, and encourage them to explain to you what they understand before writing it down.
The audio learner, usually prefer reading in groups, so it may help the child if some of their peers are invited over sometimes.
Predominantly auditory learners would prefer audiobooks and should be given the option of listening to audiobooks and other audio resources to enhance learning. This can be as effective as textbooks as a learning tool.
Teachers should sometimes provide topics for their students to discuss, and the students are allowed to lead the discussion. Auditory learners will naturally lead these discussions, and it creates a learning atmosphere for them to display, master and develop their capabilities.
Having speeches in class is another way auditory learners can learn and develop themselves. Also, a structured debate will also aid learning for the predominant auditory learner
In this digital era, teachers can provide students with recordings of the teaching session for them to listen to after school hours. This will serve as a form of revision and will be quite beneficial to people who are predominant auditory learners.
Reading and writing learning style
Do you prefer to read or get the information from a book rather than have someone verbally explain it to you? If the above best describes you then you are probably a reading/writing learner.
Reading/writing learners learn best by, reading and writing. Writing their own notes, and seeing notes on the board or on MS Word is really important to their learning experience.
Reading/writing learners learn best from books, notes, journals, dictionaries, newspapers and so on.
Lesson strategies for reading/writing learners
It is important to give these groups of learners adequate time to write down detailed notes Also this category of learners will benefit from handouts highlighting pertinent or key information.
Traditional essays and reading assignments are often best suited for reading/writing learners. Consequently, this group of learners will do well in the traditional classroom setting.
Kinesthetic learning style
Are you usually the first person to get up and volunteer to demonstrate a procedure for everyone else? Do you need to do it yourself, rather than look at a diagram or read the instruction before you learn how to do it? If the above best describes you then you may be a kinaesthetic learner
This group of learners make use of the sense of touch. They tend to learn faster if touch or movement is involved. Kinaesthetic (physical) learners tend to learn best when physical or practical things are involved.
The kinaesthetic learner would learn easily by repeating procedures themselves. They are also, good at sports, games and mechanical things.
They tend to prefer subjects that are practical such as science, technology, drama and physical education. In early childhood, children learn by doing practical things, as they get older they acquire more learning styles, while some will naturally continue as predominantly kinaesthetic learners.
Kinesthetic learners find it difficult to sit still in class for a long time. They always want to touch and use their sense of touch to learn
Kinaesthetic learners often express themselves better via body language and gestures. They would prefer to show you things physically than to explain them verbally.
This group of learners are good with their hands and can repeat a procedure once they have seen it done. They are less interested in reading and writing, they would prefer to perform.
Kinaesthetic learners should be encouraged to use practical learning tools in schools, such as an abacus, a mini whiteboard with a dry wipe marker and so on.
Their teacher or parents should back up what they learn in class with practical activities such as experiments, acting or visiting places that are related to the topics taught in class.
Kinaesthetic learners will benefit from external stimulation, such as background music. Such individuals will benefit from the use of headphones while learning or performing tasks.
Lesson strategies for kinesthetic learners
Kinaesthetic learners will benefit from practising what they have been taught. For example, lessons on types of birds may be followed by drawings of different types of birds. Also, mathematics lessons could involve physical measurements.
Literature and history lessons, can be transformed into practical sessions Instead of reading and writing alone, assign students roles and have them act out the literature or history lessons.
Demonstration speeches are good for kinaesthetic learners. Students are allowed to choose a topic of interest they understand well and then demonstrate it while giving verbal explanations at the same time. The demonstration part is what really interests kinesthetic learners.
Memletics learning style
This theory/learning style takes the basics of the VAK model and adds in a few different categories.
Memletics includes visual, auditory, and kinesthetic learning styles that are seen in the VAK model, in addition to verbal, logical, social and solitary learning styles.
Memletics learning style
This is a combination of the VAK learning style and the following:
- verbal learners who learn best by speaking
- Logical (mathematical) learners learn best by using logic and reasoning (these learners are typically mathematically inclined)
- Social (interpersonal) learners who learn best in groups
- Solitary (intrapersonal) learners who learn best alone
Logical Learning style
This category of learners usually possesses strong logical reasoning skills. They tend to notice patterns quickly and have the unique capacity to relate information, events or situation that would apparently seem non-related to others
Logical learners learn by trying to understand the meaning and reasoning behind the subject they are studying. They don’t learn my memorizing rather they try to understand the reason for the mechanisms involved.
Social learning style
Social learners are known for their exceptional written and verbal communication skills. This group of individuals are very comfortable speaking with others and is proficient at understanding other people’s views.
Social learners like working in groups and would prefer to study with others. They like discussion groups and would learn about a topic well by just discussing it with others.
Solitary Learning style
Solitary learners usually prefer learning on their own. They study privately and do not rely on others for assistance when solving a problem or studying.
Since individuals who are predominantly solitary learners prefer to work alone, oftentimes they spend a lot of time trying to solve difficult problems before seeking any assistance. That notwithstanding, the solitary learning style is not inferior to the other learning style.
Most children learn through different learning styles. Some individuals in addition to other learning styles have a predominant learning style.
None of the learning styles is inferior or superior to the other, consequently, every child can learn irrespective of their preferred learning style. To help every child learn effectively, teachers should use multiple learning styles while teaching students.