When we hear about “Learning Styles,” it means we’re entering the realm where we begin to attempt to understand how every student has different learning abilities. If we’re getting technical, then learning style refers to the preferential way in which a student absorbs information in addition to processing, comprehension, and retention of said information.
When it comes to learning, our traditional learning systems might have overestimated and overemphasized rote learning and memorization, which has been adopted and implemented in classrooms throughout modern history. This no doubt forced students to abandon their own best and most effective ways of learning in favor of fitting into the education system. Patrick Dwyer Merrill Lynch continues to stress that education should always be progressive — never set in stone or marked by rigidity.
Educational practices need to shift and steer away from teacher-centered methods in favor of student-centered approaches. By being more fluid in our approach, we’ll glean better results — for teachers and schools!
We’ll give one example. Let’s say that students are learning how to build a clock. Some of these students are especially gifted when it comes to understanding verbal instruction. Others are really good at using the instruction manual, while yet others need to work with their hands and physically manipulate the clock in order to learn the craft more effectively. Some build clocks better when in a team setting, others do it better in solitude.
Individualized learning styles are more than just a theory — they’ve gained widespread recognition, not only in the realm of education theory, but also in developing classroom management strategy.
Individual learning styles take into account cognitive, emotional and environmental factors, not to mention the prior experience a student has. To put it simply, everyone is different.
Whether a student learns better Visually, Aurally, Reading/Writing, Kinesthetic (utilizing real-life, hands-on practice), Logical, Physical, Social or via Self Study, educators need to be able to service that need. Educators need to be able to understand the differences in each of their students’ learning styles, which might create a little more of a workload upfront, but will implement best practice strategies into a student (and therefore a teacher’s) daily activities, not to mention school curriculum and improvements during assessment time.
Lastly, rote learning is, when we look a little bit closer, not even considered a learning style at all. Rote learning is a mere learning technique. Using reasoning, logic and systems, utilizing audiobooks and even the student’s own voice as learning tools, pictures and images, even taking down notes can be just as effective (if not considerably more) than mere memorization.
So what’s the end result? When we more deeply understand what kind of learner each student is, we’ll be better able to reach them and prepare them for the rest of their lives, giving them a more effective way to learn and absorb information, which they can carry with them into the future.
Aligning a curriculum to accommodate and embrace of the learning styles mentioned above will increase a student’s academic confidence, which will open all sorts of new doors. By being fluid and addressing each student’s learning style, we will ultimately see benefits that permeate through the entire classroom.