Different Learning Styles in Education

Updated on Oct 28, 2013

Different people learn differently, and psychologists have attempted through the years to spell out the traits of different types of learners and categorize them into different “learning styles.”

Naturally, there are many models of different learning styles in education. The most widely used is the VAK learning styles model, developed in 1987 by Neil Fleming, a high school and university teacher from New Zealand. Its letters stand for the three learning styles: visual, auditory, and kinesthetic. Fleming later added a fourth, read/write, changing the acronym to VARK.

As a teacher, your best option is to use a variety of teaching techniques to give all students the best chance to succeed. Read these teaching tips for each of the four VARK learning styles.

Visual Learning Style

People with a visual learning style absorb information by seeing it in front of them and storing the images in their brains. They often enjoy reading, have good handwriting, are very detail-oriented, are organized, and have a keen awareness of colors and shapes.

They tend to struggle with verbal directions and are easily distracted by noise. They remember people’s faces better than their names, and they often need to maintain eye contact with a person to concentrate on a conversation.

Here are some tips for helping visual learners excel in the classroom:

  • Write out directions.
  • Use visuals when teaching lessons, such as pictures, charts, diagrams, maps, and outlines.
  • Physically demonstrate tasks.
  • Use visual aids such as flashcards and blocks.
  • Show the visual patterns in language to teach spelling, vocabulary, grammar, and punctuation.
  • Organize information using color codes.
  • Talk with the child face-to-face and make eye contact whenever possible.
  • When directions are given verbally, encourage the child to ask for clarification when she doesn’t understand fully.
  • Encourage the child to write plenty of notes and organize information on paper and with objects.
  • Provide a quiet, neat place to study, and minimize distractions as much as possible.

Auditory Learning Style

Verbal language is the prime form for exchanging information for those within the auditory learning style. They learn best by hearing and speaking. They often talk more than the average person, are very social, enjoy hearing stories and jokes, understand concepts by talking about them, and may excel in music or the performing arts.

Some auditory learners read slowly and have trouble writing, struggle to follow written directions, and have a tough time staying quiet for long stretches of time. They remember names and recognize tone of voice well, while not always remembering people’s faces. They often hum or sing, and they may whisper to themselves while reading.

Try these techniques when teaching auditory learners:

  • Play word games and use rhymes to practice language.
  • Have the child read aloud, even when alone, and follow the text with her finger.
  • Allow the child to explain concepts verbally and give oral reports.
  • Have the child memorize information by repeating it aloud.
  • Assign projects and study times to be done in small and large groups.
  • Read aloud often to young children.
  • Provide a personal voice recorder the child can use to record notes or questions.
  • Use beats, rhythms, and songs to reinforce educational information.
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