Different Learners, Different Learning Styles

on March 28, 2008

The Context
I was watching my nephew as he struggled to complete his reading assignment for the night. The assignment was to read one chapter and write a short paragraph summarizing what he read. I sat down next to him and asked if he needed any help.

“I hate reading! I always have to read the same thing ten times!” he told me. So I asked, “Would you like me to read it with you?” He smiled and handed me the book to read aloud. Once I finished the chapter I looked at him and he was already busy writing the summary paragraph all on his own.

He then handed me a piece of paper and told me that I should write a summary, too, since I was helping with his homework. I put my pen on the paper and went blank. I could not remember a single thing that I had read to him.

So why is it that my nephew had struggled with his homework when he had to read to himself? Why did it help once I had read the chapter aloud to him? And why could I not remember what I had just read aloud to him?

The Explanation
Everyone has a different way of learning and comprehending information. Learners typically will fall into one of three categories: visual, auditory, and/or kinesthetic learners.

Visual Learners learn best with visual elements such as diagrams, maps, charts, and artwork. My nephew had struggled to read his homework because he was not a visual learner, and seeing the information did not help him to understand it.

Auditory Learners learn best by hearing or discussing the subject matter in order to grasp the concepts. When I read the chapter aloud, my nephew completely understood the information and was able to write his summary.

Kinesthetic Learners learn best with a more tactile approach to learning so the concepts can be practiced and understood. I did not remember the information that I had seen and read aloud because I was unable to act on or practice what I had just read.

The Application
Come back and we will take a deeper look at some of the solutions that we create to answer these needs.

What is your dominant learning style? Go to: http://www.vark-learn.com/english/page.asp?p=questionnaire to find out.

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