“Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.” – Nelson Mandela
Since the beginning, people have attempted different methodologies for learning. Learning styles refer to an individual’s natural pattern of acquiring and processing information in learning situations. Throughout time the theories and processes for learning have been studied, measured and continue to be open to debate.
Just a functioning understanding of the theories allows a teacher or instructor to experiment and apply various teaching and/or learning concepts and styles to their work to see how students respond. Today there are a number of “best practices” for learning.
When you know your personal learning style it will help you develop coping strategies to compensate for your weaknesses and capitalize on your strengths.
Theories of How People Learn
Historically, there has long been a struggle between student-centered and teacher-centered approaches to learning.
The Seven Learning Styles
- Visual/Spatial. Prefer pictures, images, or spatial understanding.
- Aural/Auditory-musical. Prefer sound and music.
- Verbal/Linguistic: Prefer words in both speech and writing.
- Physical/Kinesthetic: Prefer using the body, hands and sense of touch.
- Logical/Mathematical): You prefer using logic, reasoning and systems.
- Social/Interpersonal: Prefer to learn in groups or with other people.
- Solitary/Intrapersonal. Prefer to work alone and use self-study.
A person’s learning style has quite a bit of influence on the way they learn. It also changes the way people recall information and even the words you choose and how people internally represent experiences. Research indicates that every learning style uses different parts of the brain. When we involve more of the brain, we typically remember more of what we learn. Researchers using brain-imaging technologies have been able to find out the key areas of the brain responsible for each learning style. (Right)
Aural: Your temporal lobes manage aural content. (Right temporal lobe is important for music.)
Physical: The cerebellum and motor cortex located at the back of the frontal lobe manage your physical movement.
Logical: Your parietal lobes (left side) drive logical thinking.
Social: Your frontal and temporal lobes deal with social activities. The limbic system influences both the social and solitary styles and focuses on emotions and moods.
Solitary: Frontal and parietal lobes, and the limbic system, are also active with this style.
Visual: Occipital lobes at the back of your brain manage visual sense and spatial orientation.
Verbal: Handled by your temporal and frontal lobes.
Teaching models typically propose tested steps and/or procedures to effectively generate the desired outcome, and generally these teaching models fall under the following continuum:
- Student-instructor negotiated
In recent years, there has been a shift from an emphasis on “instructional techniques” to developing “learning techniques.” The role of the teacher has shifted from the director or sage to that of a facilitator, guide or mentor. Teachers motivate students and develop the skills or strategies that make them more competent and structure the learning environment so that students are able to take ownership of their own learning.