Research from Dunn and Dunn popularised the term ‘learning styles’ as “how each learner begins to concentrate on, process, absorb and retain new and difficult information”. These styles differ between each learner and trigger each student’s concentration, and long-term memory in many ways. So, you’re probably wondering, what are the main learning styles that we are talking about? Well, the VARK model defined these as Visual learners, Auditory learners, Reading & Writing learners, and Kinaesthetic learners.
- Visual learners
You probably guessed it, but visual learners learn best by seeing things, they tend to like colourful images, diagrams, and pictures. They can usually take detailed notes during their classes and lectures. They are also referred to as spatial learners. Spatial learners tend to be fast talkers, need quiet time to study, and they may also think in pictures.
A possible learning suggestion for these learners is to colour code and highlight important pieces of information – research from Visual Brand Learning highlights that the human brain does well with remembering colour so use this to your advantage! For example, you may wish to assign a particular colour such as Green to your notebooks and study materials for English, and for Maths you might choose to use Blue. Flashcards also help to aid memory retention when you have exams and deadlines around the corner.
According to Independence University, identifying your learning style can encourage you to study in the right way that best suits you and saves you from wasting your time studying in the wrong way for you. If you know that you learn in a particular way then research into additional learning techniques you can use that will help you with your learning and studying!
- Kinaesthetic learners
Kinaesthetic learners like to be able to touch things and they learn through doing, these learners take a physically active role in their learning process to help them achieve great outcomes. They can also be called ‘tactile learners’ because they need to be able to incorporate body movement into their learning. These learners tend to be good at sports, they are very coordinated and likely to be energetic too.
Learning suggestions for a tactile learner include using role-play to make learning fun, conducting experiments – which coincides well with Science lessons, studying outdoors, and learning how to play a musical instrument.
Another strength of kinaesthetic learners is that they are active learners, they can turn the learning process into an activity like a fun game – they are more skills-based rather than concept-based. For example, if you are a kinaesthetic learner you may find it easier with your driving lessons rather than revising for your theory test; this is due to you learning through actions and needing to physically do something yourself to learn.
- Auditory learners
An auditory learner performs best when they can hear information presented to them vocally, they often find success in group settings where they can share and present their work to their classmates and gain feedback. You will find that this particular learning style prefers to have things explained orally rather than through written instructions, they may also enjoy having music on whilst they study.
Podcasts (link to blog post on podcasts once its on site) are great techniques for aural learners, especially if they are learning a new language because they can learn at their own pace and can pause and come back to an episode if anything is unclear. Additionally, reciting key points aloud, recording your classes, and teaching others what you have learned are valuable methods of studying for aural learners.
Popular studies conducted from Research Gate reported that auditory learners are excellent listeners, they enjoy dialogues, plays, dictation, and favour music. The study advised auditory learners to read out questions aloud and solve the problems by speaking them. For example, if you are struggling with pronouncing an English sentence – keep repeating it out loud to yourself until it finally makes sense!
Other tips include working with a regular study group to review out loud, using internet resources like Youtube, and inventing acronyms for language learning.
- Reading and writing learners
These learners prefer the written word, they may prefer handouts or PowerPoint slides presentations to help them to synthesise the information. Reading and writing learners will recall the information displayed as words and can be described as big notetakers or avid readers with a hidden ability to turn concepts into words.
Some good suggestions of learning techniques for this style of learner are, translating visual aids such as diagrams into words, rewriting information into your own words, post-it notes in visible places (e.g. in the kitchen).
Interestingly, auditory learners are more inclined to learn foreign languages but don’t let that deter you from developing a technique that works best for you. If reading and writing work best for you then take advantage of all of the language learning books out there, for kinaesthetic learners you can practice role-playing a conversation in English with one of your friends. Perhaps, you need to see colourful diagrams and images in English for everything to finally make sense.
Discovering your learning style is not just beneficial from an educational perspective but it is a great inclination into how you work best – do you prefer to be physically involved using your hands? Do you prefer to work alone or as part of a team and listen to your classes via a recording? Do you like to see pretty diagrams and colourful images? Or is it as simple as reading a book or text? Uncovering this vital piece of information will assist you if you are looking to work or study abroad.