How We Learn and How We Teach

Though we often hear about the three learning styles (visual, auditory, and kinesthetic), it does not hurt for us to take a fresh look at each style and what suggestions are available for teaching to each learning style.  In addition, there is a fourth style–the visual-spatial learner–that is worth investigating. This one is actually one of the seven multiple intelligences (see: How does your child think?).

For more information on these learning styles, take a look at the links in this article.

“Approximately 20 to 30 percent of the school-aged population remembers what is heard; 40 percent recalls well visually the things that are seen or read; many must write or use their fingers in some manipulative way to help them remember basic facts; other people cannot internalize information or skills unless they use them in real-life activities such as actually writing a letter to learn the correct format.” (Teaching Students to Read Through Their Individual Learning Styles, Marie Carbo, Rita Dunn, and Kenneth Dunn; Prentice-Hall, 1986, p.13.).  Taken from

on October 27, 2007.

The Visual Learner

Is among 40% of learners

Remembers faces not names

Thinks in pictures

Has a good imagination

Has to see it

Is usually neat, orderly

Likes descriptions

Is distracted by disorder

Is usually quiet

Becomes impatient with listening

Makes plans in advance

Organizes by list making

Succeeds when directions are written

The Visual Learner should

Read text before lectures

Take notes during lectures

Use charts, pictures, & diagrams

Map material to be retained

Preview chapter headings

Underline keywords/highlight text

Stare into space to try and see material

Watch videos and films when appropriate

Use an assignment log

The Auditory Learner

Is among 30% of learners

Will listen to music for hours

Enjoys having stories read

Vocalizes while reading

Is distracted by noise

Remembers name not face

Talks extensively

Uses Phonics

Uses auditory word attack skills

Hums, shouts, sings in class

Doesn’t necessarily find matching clothes important, but can justify choice

Succeeds when directions are read aloud and when speeches are required

The Auditory Learner should

Read the text aloud

Explain material to someone else

Tape material & listen repeatedly

Orally test self

Turn material into a song and sing it

Restate material in own words

Have someone else read it to them

Listen to books on tape

Vocalize in head when reading aloud is not possible

The Kinesthetic/Tactile Learner

Is among 30% of learners

Learns by doing

Is generally a poor speller

Needs to touch

Is impulsive

Needs manipulatives

Loves games

Breaks & sharpens pencils regularly

Is neat but disheveled through moving

Is easily distracted during visual tasks

Is easily distracted during auditory tasks

Needs constant movement

Remembers action rather than sights/sounds

The Kinesthetic Learner should

Find practical application for information

Do projects/experiments

Write or illustrate information

Move finger or paper down page while reading

Do a physical activity such as jumping rope or bouncing a ball while memorizing facts

Use 3 x 5 cards with Q & A to flip

Act out material

Take notes in lectures

Visual, Kinesthetic, and Auditory information from:

Parker, Leonard W.  (2005, October). Parker’s Learning Modalities [Electronic Form]. Retrieved October 21, 2007, from Liberty University Blackboard.

The Visual-Spatial Learner

Thinks in pictures rather than in words

Learns better visually than auditorily

Learns all-at-once, when the light bulb goes on

Does not learn from repetition & drill

Needs to see the big picture before details

Is non-sequential (does not learn step-by-step in which most teachers teach)

Knows things without being able to explain how or why

Solves problems in unusual ways

Has a vivid imagination

Remembers what he sees, forgets what he hears

Is terrible at spelling

Can visualize objects from different perspectives

Is organizationally impaired

Often loses track of time

Has illegible handwriting

Can feel what others are feeling

Tends to be musically, artistically, or mechanically inclined

Hates speaking in front of a group


2 thoughts on “How We Learn and How We Teach

  1. Pingback: Five Basic Types of Curriculum « The Education Cafe

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