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The Seven Learning Styles

The Seven Learning Styles

Co-Written by Monique and Sam

What are the Seven Learning Styles?

Many people do not know what the keys to academic success are. Some are misguided into thinking that the only way to ace a test is to gather all your notes and textbooks and read them in a quiet room solitarily until all of the information is securely uploaded in your brain drive. While this may be the best way to study for some, this kind of studying style may be detrimental to other students.

This is because people have different learning styles. According to Howard Gardner’s multiple intelligence theory – an expansion of Fleming’s model – there are actually seven learning styles. 

These seven learning styles include 

  • Visual (Spatial)
  • Aural (Auditory-Musical)
  • Verbal (Linguistic)
  • Physical (Kinesthetic)
  • Logical (Mathematical)
  • Social (Interpersonal)
  • Solitary (Intrapersonal)

Learners may have overlapping learning styles or one distinct one. Regardless, knowing what kind of learner you are (or knowing what kind of learner your child is) and implementing the change in your approach to studying can result in higher academic achievement.

Why do They Matter?

Back in Hong Kong, my tutoring centre had a grade 7 student who struggled to learn. Any time my tutor tried to teach him the concepts in his textbook, he would fall asleep or throw things around the room. To protect his identity, let us call him Jeffrey.  I recognized that the traditional approach to learning – memorizing and notetaking – was not going to work for Jeffrey because it was boring him. Rather than punishing him and making him cater to the traditional way, I reflected on my approach and went back to the drawing board to consider what kind of a learner he was. It was obvious he was a kinesthetic learner. 

I decided that things had to be more interactive and more-hands on, so he would be more engaged. The changes worked. 

Within three weeks, Jeffrey started to find mathematical concepts less challenging, scientific inquiry more stimulating, and geography less tedious. In actuality, the changes were small and simple. We still used notebooks to record the answers, but we were working with manipulatives and physical objects to demonstrate knowledge. Fake money and counters were used to understand basic number sense. For geography, we built models, drew diagrams, and played with samples of minerals and rocks. For science, I left the textbook behind in the past and started to find virtual labs that could be used to communicate the same learning goals.

These changes helped Jeffrey start improving in his academic achievement – but more importantly, gave him more confidence because he stopped thinking he was less intelligent than his peers.

The Ideal Classroom

Ideally, the physical set up of the classroom is built so that the learning experience provides as many opportunities for different kinds of students to succeed. In a 21st century classroom, one should find a central tech hub that may control up to four digital screens. And the teacher will use these to aid their visual and oral learners as they enhance the lecture experience. There will also be whiteboard desks that students can write on and this helps all sorts of learners whether they are hands-on, visual, or verbal.

Auditory and social learners will also get plenty of experiences to hear themselves and to socialize because desks are easily movable and new groups can be formed. Chairs have wheels on them, so students do not exert themselves when it comes time to rearrange the classroom. 

A good educator also knows that some of their students are independent learners who prefer to work alone, so some portion of the period typically involves independent work. Activities should also be balanced between facts and theory, so students who are logical learners can succeed while also having the opportunity to think more abstractly. 

Even if teachers do not have the luxury of such a classroom, teachers can make class activities group inquiry-based. In these kinds of group tasks, physical learners benefit through active researching, oral and auditory learners benefit through peer-communication, visual learners benefit from reading, social learners benefit just by being in groups, logical learners benefit as they are given clear objectives, and even independent learners can just work on a portion of the activity alone and regroup later on.

Because of COVID-19, schools are all resorting to virtual learning. This is challenging for everyone. In Canada, there are students and teachers who do not have access to high-speed internet and computers. Not to mention, the type of virtual learning used currently does not take into account the various learning styles of students. In general, the dynamic classroom has been mostly reduced to a video call lecture and/or virtual classroom with PowerPoint slides.  A majority of teachers are uploading readings and text-based assignments/activities, and students are asked to complete them independently. The learning experience has become more limited. The plethora of learning opportunities that students once had – are gone. Sure, students who work well with visual sources and who thrive doing things independently will succeed; however, social learners have fewer opportunities to interact with their peers in class settings, kinesthetic learners have also lost opportunities to learn through play or manipulatives, and auditory and oral learners have lost the chance to hear themselves. 

How does Each Learner…Learn?

The table below highlights the most effective teaching pedagogies teachers should implement for their different kinds of learners. If teachers are not implementing these strategies then you, as a student, should try to always utilize them to maximize your learning and studying.

Kinesthetic (Physical)★ In language-based subjects such as English, History, or Social-Sciences, students will benefit most from note-taking
★ In the study of mathematics, students will benefit from using manipulatives such as place blocks or fake money
★ In science, students greatly benefit from experiential learning such as doing experiments, and actually seeing how the scientific process plays out. 
Aural/Verbal (Auditory/Speaking)★ Across all subjects, students will benefit the most from lectures or group-work opportunities where they can speak to their peers and listen to them as well. 
★ These students should read notes out loud when they are studying for tests or exams. They should do the same when they are reviewing class material.
★ These students also excel in just listening to their teachers and have great memorization skills and oral listening skills. To ensure things are not forgotten it might be more effective for these students to record their classes as well with any audio recorder.
Visual (Spatial)
★ Across all subjects, students will benefit the most from visual representation of their content.
★ In subjects like Math or science, sometimes reading a concept in the medium of a text is a bit frustrating so a visual representation e.x. Diagrams might be more helpful.
★ Likewise, in English, students might actually absorb more when the medium is transformed into drama (theatre) or film.
Logical (Mathematical)★ These students excel in the maths or sciences but that does not mean they cannot succeed in language-based studies or creative disciplines such as the arts. 
★ These students will benefit from increased scaffolding and developing their inference techniques to learn how to turn facts into abstract ideas. 
★ For them, they need to approach language logically first such as learning about grammar, reasoning, and structure of writing. 
Social (Interpersonal)★ These students need group work – making these students work independently will be a nightmare. They thrive in settings where they are working with others or talking with other people. Even when it comes to private tutoring, it is critical this student is enrolled in a group class.
★ These students learn from the interaction.  Group activities and projects will suit them – even group study sessions.
Solitary (Intrapersonal)★ These students are the opposite of social students, they need to be alone or else they don’t have the peace of mind to just think and concentrate. Group work will not work for them.

Conclusion

Remember, not all teachers will make changes to their classroom to provide a universal learning experience so it is important to change your independent approach to studying to become more successful. Come speak with us if you feel that you can’t just figure out why you are struggling. despite studying your butt off! It could be that you just have not figured out what kind of a learner you are and what adjustments need to be made.

Certainly, the COVID-19 pandemic is such an unprecedented event that many teachers are still finding ways to adapt to online platforms. Our next article will provide some tips as to how to make the best out of virtual learning during COVID-19. Keep an out for it!

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