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Accommodating Different Learning Styles

Most academics in the field of learning agree that there are three main learning modalities, and learning styles all stem from the three modalities.

The three modalities are: Visual, Auditory, and Kinesthetic.

Every person uses all three modalities in varying degrees. Howeve,r many have a dominant one that influences their personal learning style. To be effective as a training designer, it is important to create training that appeals to the different learning styles – and online learning is no different.

By including various learning components and exercises - such as hands-on exercises balanced with discussion, group work, demonstration, comparing/contrasting/organizing research, and writing assignments - all types of learners can benefit in a single learning environment.

  1. Visual Learners: Learn by seeing. They remember because items are written down or visually arranged in a manner that makes sense to them. Memory is based on visual recall. Their understanding comes partly from visual cues such as facial expressions and body language. They prefer to take their own notes, but like to be presented with diagrams, illustrations, and handouts.
  2. Auditory Learners: Easily discriminate and easily remember sounds. This learner type generally finds it easier to organize and follow oral directions. They are good listeners and enjoy discussion. They find underlying meaning in voice pitch and tone, and like to listen to books on tape.
  3. Kinesthetic (Tactile) Learners: Are more sensing than the other types. This type learns by moving around and “doing”. For these hands-on types, memory is stimulated by all kinds of stimuli such as visuals, sound, and actions/movements. They don’t like to sit for long periods of time because they require activity. They love to explore and discover knowledge on their own.

* Tactile is related to Kinesthetic. Tactile learners have a strong preference for touching, and building things. Memory is stimulated by feeling objects. For example, they may remember what buttons to push on a phone to reach someone (because it ‘feels’ right), and have trouble verbally stating the actual phone number. This type likes to have/make physical representations of objects or models for better understanding.

Each person uses all these modalities in varying measures, but everyone is more successful in areas that cater to their personal learning style. One’s dominant personal learning style is generally defined by that person being competent in learning activities using more than one style.

Multiple Intelligences are the combinations of the further breakdowns of different learning styles that are categorized into these ‘multi-preferences’. An example combination is the Visual Spatial Intelligence. Learners with this type of intelligence tend to think in pictures and need to create vivid mental images to retain information. They enjoy looking at maps, charts, pictures, and watching videos.

Learners with a Verbal Linguistic Intelligence have highly developed auditory skills and are generally effective speakers. They think in words rather than pictures. Logical Mathematical Intelligence types are good at making connections between pieces of information are skilled in problem solving, classifying and categorizing information, working with abstract concepts.