Visual-Spatial Learner: An Introduction (page 2)

By — Visual Spatial Resource Center
Updated on Dec 16, 2008

Here are the basic distinctions between the visual-spatial and auditory-sequential learner:

The Auditory-Sequential Learner The Visual-Spatial Learner
Thinks primarily in words Thinks primarily in pictures
Has auditory strengths Has visual strengths
Relates well to time Relates well to space
Is a step-by-step learner Is a whole-part learner 
Learns by trial and error Learns concepts all at once
Progresses sequentially from easy
to difficult material
Learns complex concepts easily;

Struggles with easy skills

Is an analytical thinker Is a good synthesizer
Attends well to details Sees the big picture; may miss details
Follows oral directions well Reads maps well
Does well at arithmetic Is better at math reasoning than computation
Learns phonics easily Learns whole words easily
Can sound out spelling words Must visualize words to spell them
Can write quickly and neatly Much better at keyboarding than handwriting
Is well organized Creates unique methods of organization
Can show steps of work easily Arrives at correct solutions intuitively
Excels at rote memorization Learns best by seeing relationships
Has good auditory short-term memory Has good long-term visual memory
May need some repetition
to reinforce learning
Learns concepts permanently; does not learn by drill and repetition
Learns well from instructions Develops own methods of problem solving
Learns in spite of emotional reactions Is very sensitive to teachers' attitudes
Is comfortable with one right answer Generates unusual solutions to problems
Develops fairly evenly Develops quite asynchronously (unevenly)
Usually maintains high grades May have very uneven grades
Enjoys algebra and chemistry Enjoys geometry and physics
Masters other languages in classes Masters other languages through immersion
Is academically talented Is creatively, technologically, mechanically, emotionally or spiritually gifted
Is an early bloomer Is a late bloomer

At the Gifted Development Center, we have been exploring the visual-spatial learner phenomenon for over 2 decades. We have developed strategies for working effectively with these children, guidance for parents on living with visual-spatial learners, and techniques to help visual-spatial students learn successfully through their strengths. This information is now available in Upside-Down Brilliance: The Visual-Spatial Learner (Denver: DeLeon Publishing, 2002) and Raising Topsy-Turvy Kids: Successfully Parenting Your Visual-Spatial Child (Denver: DeLeon Publishing, 2004).

Over a period of nine years, a multi-disciplinary team created the Visual-Spatial Identifier-a simple, 15-item checklist to help parents and teachers find these children. There are two forms of the Identifier: a self-rating questionnaire and an observer form, which is completed by parents or teachers. The Visual-Spatial Identifier has been translated into Spanish. With the help of two grants from the Morris S. Smith Foundation, the two instruments have been validated on 750 fourth, fifth and sixth graders. In this research, one-third of the school population emerged as strongly visual-spatial. An additional 30% showed a slight preference for the visual-spatial learning style. Only 23% were strongly auditory-sequential. This suggests that a substantial percentage of the school population would learn better using visual-spatial methods.

Please visit our websites, and, for more information about visual-spatial learners. Or call the Gifted Development Center (1-888-GIFTED1) or Visual-Spatial Resource (1-888-VSR-3744) to order a copy of Upside-Down Brilliance, Raising Topsy-Turvy Kids, the Visual-Spatial Identifier, or articles about visual-spatial learners. We also offer presentations for groups and phone consultations for parents.

From Silverman, L.K. (2003, Winter). The visual-spatial learner: An introduction. Soundview School Dolphin News, pp 6-7.

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