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People learn better in different ways. There are three types of learning styles: auditory, visual, and kinesthetic. In this document we will review the different styles of learning, and also the strengths, weaknesses, and recommendations of each.
Auditory learners learn best through hearing. They excel most in listening, and can best remember something if it is spoken to them. Recommended tools are: sound recordings, playing cassettes or CD's in the cart, listening to lectures, and utilizing audio books. Example: When I was a production lineleader in an automotive factory, I made instruction manuals that described how to run the machines. Several of the employees I trained had difficulty understanding the instructions; they wanted me to just "tell" them how to do it instead. (One note: these employees still forgot the verbal instructions regularly; written instructions survive despite forgetfulness!)
A visual learner oftentimes learn best when he can picture something, whether it be physically seeing the object or mentally recreating it. Seeing it laid out in front of them (especially on paper) helps them obtain and retain information best. The visual learner may derive less benefit from the spoken word or hands-on experience than individuals with other learning styles, but, by strategically using visual aids such as graphs, charts, videos, models, maps, presentations, diagrams, pictures and illustrations, videos, written instructions, books, and written text in his learning techniques, the visual learner can assimilate information in a manner suitable to his learning style. By jotting down notes, making flash cards, and drawing diagrams, the visual learner can not only use the techniques best suited to his learning style, but also have something to reference after the initial instruction is over. Example: When I started with the employer at the above mentioned location, I experienced the opposite problem. Being a visual learner, I was having a hard time understanding the auditory instructions. To work around this, I began making charts of the dimensions for myself. Apparently this worked really well, because my coworkers and supervisor thought I was learning fast. I was assigned to a more technically challenging department. I wrote down all the techniques step by step, and was able to perform the basic tasks by myself by the end of the day. I continued writing down instructions for the machines I operated, and continued to advance and get smarter.
Kinesthetic learners learn best by getting actively involved with their hands. They learn best by actually partaking in a project, rather than merely observing it. Recommended tools are: hands-on museums, models (preferably operational), interactive activities, field trips, building blocks, and volunteer projects requiring physical labor. Example: My brother is a kinesthetic learner. He would learn best by taking something apart to see how it works. It was always interesting when we would work together on fixing something: I would pull out the owner's manual, and he would start disassembling the machine. On the other hand, jumping into something without knowing what one is doing can be disastrous, if not fatal. Example: A coworker who was a kinesthetic learner liked dive in and "fix" things when they broke. Unfortunately, he did not have the necessary prerequisite knowledge, and regularly transformed issues into disasters.
It is important to teach your students based on their learning styles. If you are teaching one student, or multiple students that learn best with a certain style, try to concentrate your efforts on the techniques of that learning style (although you may and SHOULD take advantage of all three styles). If you are only teaching a few students, it is possible that there might not be any students present form one of the three learning styles; in that case, you can concentrate on the learning styles best used by the students present. If you are teaching a large class, or if all three learning styles are represented, it is best to try to utilize all three learning styles, and is recommended to give the lesson "three times", in a sense, by teaching all the content in each of the tree learning styles.
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