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Styles of Learning: Which one is yours?

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Students have distinct styles of learning based on their abilities. They absorb, process, comprehend and retain information depending on their pace and the preferential way of learning. While some students understand the working of a clock through verbal instructions, some learn it by physically wielding it. Styles of learning also depend on emotional and environmental factors as each child is unique. It is, therefore, important for educators to understand the learning style of each child and develop tailored strategies to facilitate and encourage learning.

Studies on Styles of Learning

Learning style is a popular concept of psychology and education that gained momentum during the 1970s and 1980s. A number of research studies were conducted and published on different styles of learning. After conducting different research studies David Kolb came up with a learning style model which was published in 1984 and Neil Fleming also came up with VARK learning style model which was published in 1987. These models include different stages of learning and emphasise that each child has a learning preference.

Let’s discuss these models one by one.

Kolb’s Learning Cycle:

According to David Kolb, “Learning is the process whereby knowledge is created through the transformation of experience”. Kolb’s learning cycle involves four stages, which are explained in his experiential learning theory. The theory states that the drive towards the development of new concepts is acquired through experiences. The four stages of learning, as described by him, are

Concrete Experience: In this stage, learners encounter a new experience or a reinterpretation of their earlier experiences.

Reflective Observation: In this stage, learners observe and reflect on their new experiences.

Abstract Conceptualisation: In this stage, learners develop new ideas and/or modify the existing concepts or ideas as per their understanding.

Active Experimentation: In this stage, learners apply their understanding to the world around them and observe the result.

VARK Learning Style:

Neil Fleming’s learning model is often referred to as the VARK learning cycle. In this learning cycle, learners are differentiated based on their preferences, which can be for visual learning ( pictures, images or diagrams), auditory learning (music, discussions, lectures), reading and writing (making lists, reading notebooks, taking notes), or kinesthetic learning (movements, experiments or hand-on-activities). Different learners consider different learning style as per their preferences and comfortability.

Different Styles of Learning:

Learning styles have been segregated in seven categories. Since every child is unique in their own way and choose their preferential way of learning, hence each learner falls under different categories of learning.

Visual

In this style of learning, learners absorb information through pictures, images or graphical representations. They need to see information to retain it for a longer time. Generally, such learners are imaginative, and have the ability to think out of the box and quickly process what they see.

Ways to Improve Retention

  • Replace words with colourful texts and images.
  • Highlight important texts using a highlighter pen or tool.
  • Avoid writing lengthy texts. Bifurcate paragraph into categories and sub-categories.
  • Use digital learning tools and technologies. Graphical images, pictures, timelines, maps, etc., displayed through any online learning platform or through smart boards makes learning more convenient as it creates a visual impact.

Auditory:

In this style of learning, learners absorb information through listening and speaking.

Ways to Improve Retention

  • Read aloud your lessons
  • Engage yourselves in debates and discussions
  • Use audio devices or technologies to understand your lessons.
  • Use digitised learning solutions, such as TeachNext, to establish a better retention capacity. TeachNext is a platform that offers information in the audio and video format. You can see and listen to the academic content using TeachNext.

Intrapersonal/Solitary

Intrapersonal or solitary learners like to study by themselves and do not engage into group studies. They have the ability to analyse themselves and find out their weak and strong areas. They are independent and gifted with self-reflection and self-management qualities.

Ways to Improve Retention

  • Study in a quiet and comfortable place.
  • Recapitulate what you have learned and think through what you have learned new.
  • Use digital solutions such LearnNext to support learning. LearnNext is a platform with different self-learning solutions through which you can evaluate yourself.

Kinesthetic/Physical

This is also known as the experiential way of learning. Learners who fall under this category learn through activities and are more comfortable in doing things practically, through hands-on-activities

Ways to Improve Retention

  • Engage into hands-on-learning.
  • Use art projects for learning.
  • Convert your lessons into activities and learn through them.
  • Use digital hands-on-learning solutions such as NextLab to understand the concepts through activities.

Verbal

The verbal style of learning refers to learning through both written and spoken words. Some learners like to read their lessons aloud or explain lessons to others. It helps them memorise and understand the lessons in depth.

Ways to Improve Retention

  • Make notes.
  • List out important words or terms from each lesson.
  • Reread and rewrite your notes

Logical

In this type of learning, learners use their logic and reasoning abilities and cause–effect relationship to understand different concepts.

Ways to Improve Retention

  • Extract important points from notes to create a list of facts.
  • Convert your lessons to strategic mind games.
  • Solve brain teasers and play math games.

Social:

Learners who prefer social style of learning enjoy learning in groups. They easily grasp and understand concepts when they are learning with other learners.

Ways to Improve Retention

  • Learn in cooperative settings.
  • Teach others what you have learned.
  • Participate in group discussions.
  • Engage in language-exchange programmes.

Naturalistic:

This type of learning style is beneficial for nature lovers. Such learners understand the concepts better when they relate their lessons with nature. They particularly enjoy studying outdoors and like to observe nature.

Ways to Improve Retention

  • Study in an open surrounding.
  • Try to relate your lessons to the nature around you and learn through it.

Benefits of Knowing Your Learning Style

There are many benefits of discovering how you process information or the style of learning you prefer. Some of the benefits are as follows:

  • It enhances your learning potential.
  • It helps you create your own learning strategies.
  • It reduces stress and frustrations of learning experiences.
  • It boosts up self-confidence.
  • It helps you identify your strengths, weaknesses and habits.
  • It enables you to enjoy your learning process.
  • It motivates you for lifelong learning.
  • It helps you explore your natural skills and inclinations.

Styles of learning helps in personalizing education for every learner. Knowledge on different styles of learning will help the learners to understand their style or method of learning which will help them progress further in their education.

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