Learning styles relate to an individual student’s personality and his or her learning preferences for processing and retaining new information. A child’s learning style describes how a student approaches educational material when it is presented in the classroom. Supporting your students' learning styles can help them feel empowered and confident when learning new information. The three basic types of learners are: visual learners, kinesthetic learners, and auditory learners.
Sixty-five percent of learners are visual learners. Visual learners prefer to take in information through their sight. They grasp facts, understanding and remembering them better, when they are presented in a visual manner. They learn best by the use of charts, graphs, diagrams, maps, and images. Color is a critical component for visual learners. Hearing verbal instructions or directions isn’t optimal for a visual learner in the learning process.
Kinesthetic, or physical, learners are very participatory, preferring a hands-on approach to learning. They learn best by taking a physically active role in their learning rather than depending upon their senses of hearing or sight to ingest information. Writing information down to reinforce understanding and memory works best for a kinesthetic learner. They enjoy creating things with their hands, and they like to learn by touching or manipulating materials. They often excel in subjects like science which gives them hands-on time in the lab.
Auditory learners learn most effectively by listening to verbal instruction or presentations. An auditory learner would rather listen to a lecture than read a textbook, and they’d prefer that the teacher explain a project rather than having to figure it out by themselves.
In addition to the three basic learning styles, variations exist based on psychologist Howard Gardner’s idea of multiple intelligences or a “mental computational power” in a specific area such as special intelligence.
So your classroom may also include these types of learners:
Social or interpersonal learners retain and understand information better when they collaborate with others. They enjoy interacting with other students and possess good people skills. Ideal learning situations for them involve group projects, paired readings, and collaborative assignments. These kinds of activities are also good for auditory learners.
These students possess the ability to reason, problem-solve and learn by using language. Verbal/linguistic learners, sometimes referred to as reading/writing learners, are efficient at understanding both verbal and written information and they excel in reading and writing. To process and retain information, they also need to take copious notes. Charts, graphs, pure math problems, hands-on projects with minimal verbal or written instructions are their bane.
Logical learners or mathematical learners are great at analyzing and solving complex problems. Abstract ideas interest them most.
It isn’t that difficult to incorporate different teaching strategies into your lesson plans that can engage all your students.
Whiteboards are an incredible teaching tool for visual learners who respond well to charts, maps, pictures and color-coded material while learning new material. Teachers can draw color-coded pictures or charts on the whiteboard, project them onto the whiteboard, or post them on magnetic whiteboards. The teacher can also conduct image-based whiteboard activities and games by having students reorder images to demonstrate their knowledge. For instance, a history lesson might include pictures from different time periods or wars and students must group those that go together.
Physically going to a magnetic whiteboard and moving images or words around is also a great way for teachers to engage kinesthetic learners. These learners love to touch and move displayed objects. An interactive whiteboard can be attached to a virtual keyboard, allowing kinesthetic learners to type their responses onto the whiteboard, giving them a more tactile experience.
Even auditory learners, who respond best to lectures, can benefit from whiteboard activities to enhance their classroom learning. Teachers can project videos or podcasts on the whiteboard that auditory learners can listen to. These learners enjoy conversation, so including them in a group of students that they can converse with is a good tactic. Each group can work with a free-standing portable easel.
Design games and activities where kinesthetic learners and verbal/linguistic learners can go to the whiteboard and write down the responses that auditory or verbal/linguistic learners provide or draw pictures that represent what they are learning. The visual learners can learn from what they see on the board. Everyone is included in the same lesson plan!
Logical learners will appreciate having a whiteboard to write down their calculations while they solve abstract problems and equations. In fact, having students write down information on a whiteboard has been shown to increase their retention by 23%.
Games are a great way for all kids, no matter their learning preference, to learn while having fun. For example, the teacher can put a list of vocabulary words on the whiteboard. One student can define the word. One student can use it in a sentence that he or she writes on the whiteboard. Another student can draw the object or select the object from among several photos and place it next to the written word. Then the children can divide into small groups and make up stories or read stories pertaining to specific words. The possibilities and types of games are endless. Need game ideas? See Fun Whiteboard Activities for Your Classroom for 10 whiteboard games you can modify to maximize the learning opportunities for all your students.
empowerED™ by Clarus® is made with teachers and students with all kinds of students’ learning styles in mind. This flexible, all-in-one virtual communications system allows teachers to write on the whiteboard while they are projecting educational materials on it. It is magnetic and tackable and has free-standing portable easels that can be used in a variety of ways. With so many possibilities and available options, teachers and instructors will have no problem enhancing the learning experiences and catering to learning style preferences for all students, even through hybrid teaching.