Before you read this blog, take a moment and complete this learning style inventory assessment. See what it says about how you possibly learn best. Then, read the rest of the blog. Click here, but don’t forget to come back and finish reading.
Over the past decade, learning styles have gained attention. If you aren’t familiar, learning styles are the preferred method for learning material based on a student’s preference. These include auditory, kinesthetic, and visual learning. Some research suggests there are seven learning styles, which consist of visual (pictures/images/spatial), aural (auditory/musical/prefer sounds), verbal (linguistic/prefer words), physical (kinesthetic/moving), logical (mathematical), social (interpersonal), and solitary (intrapersonal).
Learning styles are the preferred way of learning. It’s a fact that we all prefer a method of receiving information. I’m a visual learner. I like seeing pictures, graphs, tables, etc. This helps my brain interpret the data. However, I can also learn a great deal through hands-on activities (kinesthetic) and by listening (auditory).
Most teachers I have observed, use a variety of learning styles in their everyday teaching. I’d venture to say that it is rare to visit a classroom where only one method is being used. A typical elementary or middle school lesson should incorporate auditory, visual, and movement. This is especially prevalent in a science classroom where logical(math) is also integrated when possible. Usually, these observations have utilized both group work(interpersonal) and independent work(intrapersonal) during the lesson. This allows for students to reflect and discuss with a group quietly.
But, the research, almost 30 years of it, suggests that learning styles don’t correlate to improved learning or retention. One such study published in Psychological Science in the Public Interest revealed three significant conclusions. 1) Within a classroom, learners differ in their preferred learning styles. 2) Students express interest in methods of learning, such as visual aids, hands-on, etc. 3) There is no evidence to suggest people do learn better when the instruction is tailored to their preferred learning style. To clarify, there is no evidence to suggest people learn better when the instruction is tailored to their preference. While there may be merit in examining this, the past 30 years have shown no evidence.
Therefore, it’s important to understand that for learning, there is no silver bullet. No one methodology will help everyone become the best learner possible. When learning something new, try a variety of learning methods. A diversity of instruction is by far the best way of remembering information and applying it later.