Essay, Research Paper: Learning Styles

Education

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Every person learns differently. From kindergartner to postgraduate levels, only
students can do the earning, and they do it in their own particular, individual
learning styles. Some children pick something up the first time they hear it.
Others may not grasp a concept until they’ve had the chance to see it in
print, or to write it themselves. These people all use different learning
modalities. There are four basic ways in which people learn. Auditory learners
gain information with the use of their ears. Visual learning takes place with
the use of our eyes. Kinesthetic learning derives from the use of our muscles
and skin. Photographic learners use all of their senses to obtain information.
Everyone gains information by all of these means, yet some people tend to favor
one aspect over another, or rely more heavily on one combination. For example,
writing down (kinesthetic) what we hear (auditory) combine two modalities or
styles. A majority of people learn visually, so visual aids are a must. It is
best to teach to all of the first three modalities when introducing a lesson
with emphasis on the visual. You can use learning modalities in your teaching by
finding out how individual students learn, and letting them know what their
strongest modes are. They can learn to use this information for themselves, and
you can encourage them to strengthen modalities that may be weak. The best thing
that teachers can do is provide instruction, tools, and an environment that
allows them to learn through the channels that work best for them. Teaching to
learning styles can be viewed as using a variety of methods to reach all
students. Teachers who desire to enhance learning to optimal levels will want a
deeper understanding of learning styles and ways to accommodate them. This
involves an awareness of learning style theories, an understanding of one’s
own learning preferences, and knowing how to match instruction to learning
styles. When we speak of learning styles, we most often describe sensory
modalities through which individuals receive, process, store, and communicate
information. They categorize students as visual, auditory, or haptic (or
kinesthetic) learners, while acknowledging that these labels indicate
preferences and strengths rather than absolute descriptors. For example,
university students, studying the same challenging article, might use color to
highlight and separate main ideas (visual), explain the main concepts to a
friend (auditory), or manipulate ideas written on notecards to show
relationships (kinesthetic). While these students approach the reading
assignment differently, they share the experience of being actively engaged in
the task. The most important message in all these learning style classifications
is that students’ knowledge of their particular learning styles can lead to
more productive studying. Conversely, difficulties arise when there is a lack of
self-understanding and appropriate study strategy development. (Levine, 1997)
Research on learning styles implicates that instructors should teach to the
individual styles of their students, at the post secondary level this suggestion
cannot translate to separate lessons for individual students. We can make
meaningful pedagogical changes such as incorporating additional visuals into
lectures or providing handouts with sufficient margins for note taking. With
increased sensitivity to the variety of learning styles in our classrooms, we
can direct our students toward self-understanding. We can share the lessons of
scholarship that we have learned on our own academic journeys. The result will
be increased numbers of students who are actively engaged participants in our
intellectual community. (U-Penn.com, 1998)

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