It is an undeniable fact that every person is different in some way. As a result, everyone learns in a slightly different manner. Learning styles describe the ways in which people intake information most effectively. Academia has recognized several categories of learning styles with which most people can relate. Some people primarily learn by using one style of knowledge intake and others use more than one ("Overview of learning styles," 2007). There is not a specific style or combination of styles that is more beneficial overall, each person benefits from the styles differently. Also, people can develop their abilities in styles to which they may not be "naturally" inclined. The understanding of these learning styles allows one to learn more efficiently and enables those who teach to develop ways to target specific styles.
History of Learning Styles
At one time schools focused on classroom instruction and taught from books. Such traditional methods encouraged repetition, reinforcement, and review. Today, however, education is utilizing a plethora of new learning and teaching methods. ("Overview of learning styles," 2007) Instructors are beginning to realize that working with learning styles is beneficial for both students and teachers (Revell, 2005). Teachers can increase the effectiveness and efficiency of instruction, thereby negating the necessity of repetition. This allows students to learn more information at a faster rate. Such understanding was obtained in the 1970s, when theories of learning styles were being developed (Robotham, 2000). The recognition of a need for different methods of teaching began a new wave of education that focused on the student instead of the content matter.
Styles of Learning
Learning styles take many different forms and focus on every aspect of information intake. They consider how one receives information best, in what kind of an environment one most effectively learns, and various other aspects. Learning styles affect not only the way one takes in information, but also what they do with that information, including how one interprets information once it is internalized. Each style is developed in and utilizes different parts of the brain. By making use of more than one learning style and involving as much of the brain as possible in learning, one can better remember what they wish to learn ("Overview of learning styles," 2007). There are several different learning styles that are widely recognized in the education field. Some styles have more than one name, but they all focus on basic methods of information intake.
Visual and Aural Learning Styles
Visual, or spatial, learners use pictures, images, maps, etc. to recognize information ("Overview of learning styles," 2007). Visual learners organize information according to color, shape, and other physical characteristics. Such learners remember things best when they see a drawing or diagram of information. Visual learners remember faces, but are not good with names ("Learning styles," n.d.). They typically display creativity and work well with tangible art mediums ("Learning styles,"). Movement can easily distract a visual learner, whereas they may be unaware of noise that surrounds them ("Learning styles").
Aural, or auditory, learners prefer to use sound and music to shapes and colors ("Overview of learning styles," 2007). They arrange information to beats and tunes in order to remember it. Aural learners can listen to directions and remember them. They remember people's voices before they remember what they looked like physically or what they were wearing the last time they saw the. Aural learners are particularly sensitive to chaotic noises, but not to movement surrounding them. One of the easiest ways for aural learners to solve problems is by talking them out ("Learning styles," n.d.)
Kinesthetic and Linguistic Learning Styles
People also take in information differently. Kinesthetic learners can best understand information by using their sense of touch ("Overview of learning styles," 2007). Physically acting or carrying out exercises is the best way for kinesthetic learners to take in information. Linguistic learners, on the other hand, understand words best. They are better attuned to speech and writing than actually "doing" things ("Overview of learning styles"). Some people learn best when they use a combination of kinesthetic and linguistic learning methods. As a result, many educators assign work that involves both reading and exercises.
Social and Solitary Learners
Social and solitary learners differ in how the prefer to learn. Although this aspect may be considered a preference, rather than an operation of the brain, it has been observed in very young children that may not have had a chance to make a conscious preference ("Overview of learning styles, 2007"). Social learners prefer to learn in classroom settings around many people. They like team sports and enjoy being around others ("Overview of learning styles"). Solitary learners, on the other hand, like to work alone and enjoy peaceful learning opportunities. Both can be catered to in today's learning environments.
Every person has a different way of taking in and retaining information. In the past few decades educators have put more emphasis on the individual needs of students. Teachers typically provide opportunities for students will all types of learning styles. This allows each student to learn in the most effective manner possible, enabling the instructor to focus on larger issues. Understanding and using information derived from individual learning styles can enable a more effective and efficient educational system.