Copyright Lynn O'Brien, Specific Diagnostic Studies, Inc., Rockville, MD
Discussion of Learning Styles Inventory:
There is a growing body of evidence that shows that students do not learn in the same way. However, teachers often teach all students in the same way. All students can learn - they just learn differently. Many students who are labeled "Learning Disabled" may simply need to be taught a different way in terms of their learning style.
Learning style involves the internal structures and processes that affect how a person receives, interprets and uses information. There are three strands involved in learning style: (1) how one receives information, (2) how one processes information, and (3) what environmental preferences one has. Environmental preferences involve such things as: (a) needs bright light or prefers low light, (b) learns better in the morning or learns better in the afternoon or evening, (c) learns better in groups or learns better alone, and (d) prefers to study in quiet surroundings or prefers to study with music or other noise in the background. Knowing as much as you can about the needs of an individual student will often allow you to change the one thing that is most important to learning for that student.
There are many instruments that can help you determine the learning styles of your students - you may find that your school system has one and that there are people who will come into your classroom and administer the test for you and discuss it with your students. Start with your guidance counselors. If they do not have a test themselves, they will know whom you should contact. The fastest and easiest way to accomplish this is to use one that your system already has. The simple one that is included here includes only three areas: visual, auditory, and haptic (pronounced with the "h" silent). Haptic preference is often called tactile or hands on learning. The points can simply be added up in class by the students so they can see where their strengths lie. Whichever instrument you choose to use, learning preferences should be discussed with your students. Explain that no person is all one way - everyone is a mixture of preferences. Each person simply has one or two methods that are easier for them. It is important to stress that no one way is "good" and another way "bad", the learning styles are simply different. The goal here is for each student to learn in the style that is easiest for him and to contribute to the group the particular type of information in which he excels.
There are three sheets of information that are primarily for the student - one on each learning style which has suggestions for each type of learner. These should be given to the students. These are tips that will make it easier for the students to study and achieve according to his/her learning style.
Learning Channel Preference
Read each sentence carefully and consider whether it applies to you. On the line, write:
3 if often applies
2 if sometimes applies
1 if never or almost never applies
Preferred Channel: VISUAL
____1. I enjoy doodling and even my notes have lots of pictures, arrows, etc. in them.
____2. I remember something better if I write it down.
____3. When trying to remember a telephone number, or something new like that, it helps me to get a picture of it in my head.
____4. When taking a test, I can "see" the textbook page and the correct answer on it.
____5. Unless I write down directions. I am likely to get lost and arrive late.
____6. It helps me to LOOK at a person speaking. It keeps me focused.
____7. I can clearly picture things in my head.
____8. It's hard for me to understand what a person is saying when there is background noise.
____9. It's difficult for me to understand a joke when I hear it.
___10. It's easier for me to get work done in a quiet place.
Visual Total ______
Preferred Channel: AUDITORY
____1. When reading, I listen to the words in my head or read aloud.
____2. To memorize something it helps me to say it over and over to myself.
____3. I need to discuss things to understand them.
____4. I don't need to take notes in class.
____5. I remember what people have said better than what they were wearing.
____6. I like to record things and listen to the tapes.
____7. 'd rather hear a lecture on something than have to read it in a textbook.
____8. I can easily follow a speaker even though my head is down on the desk or I'm staring out the window.
____9. I talk to myself when I'm problem solving or writing.
____10. I prefer to have someone tell me how to do something rather than have to read the directions myself.
Preferred Channel: HAPTIC
____1. I don't like to read or listen to directions; I'd rather just start doing.
____2. I learn best when I am shown how to do something and then have the opportunity to do it.
____3. I can study better when music is playing.
____4. I solve problems more often with a trial and error, than a step-by-step approach.
____5. My desk and/or locker looks disorganized.
____6. I need frequent breaks while studying.
____7. I take notes but never go back and read them.
____8. I do not become easily lost, even in strange surroundings.
____9. I think better when I have the freedom to move around; studying at a desk is not for me.
____10. When I can't think of a specific word, I'll use my hands a lot and call something a "what-cha-ma-call-it" or a "thing-a-ma-jig."
Haptic Total _____
Suggestions for Visual Learners
You will learn better when you read or see the information. Learning from a lecture may not be easy. Try some of these suggestions and create some more that will work for you.
* Write things down because you remember them better that way (quotes, lists, dates, etc.).
* Look at the person while they are talking. It will help you to stay focused.
* It's usually better to work in a quiet place. However, many visual learners do math with music playing in the background.
* Ask a teacher to explain something again when you don't understand a point being made.
Simply say, "Would you please repeat that?"
* Most visual learners study better by themselves.
* Take lots of notes. Leave extra space if some details were missed. Borrow a dependable student's or teacher's notes.
* Copy over your notes. Re-writing helps recall.
* Use color to highlight main ideas in your notes, textbooks, handouts, etc.
* Before reading an assignment, set a specific study goal and write it down. Post it in front of you. Example, "From 7:00 to 7:30 I will read the first chapter."
* Preview a chapter before reading by first looking at all the pictures, section headings, etc.
* Select a seat furthest from the door and window and toward the front of the class, if possible.
* Write vocabulary words in color on index cards with short definitions on the back. Look through them frequently, write out the definitions again, and check yourself.
Suggestions for Auditory Learners
You will learn better when information comes through your ears. You need to hear it. Lecture situations will probably work well for you. You may not learn as well just reading from a book.
Try some of these suggestions and create some more that will work for you.
* Try studying with a buddy so you can talk out loud and hear the information.
* Recite out loud the thing you want to remember (quotes, lists, dates, etc.)
* Ask your teachers if you can turn in a tape or give an oral report instead of written work.
* Make tape cassettes of classroom lectures, or read class notes onto a tape. Summarizing is especially good. Try to listen to the tape three times in preparing for a test.
* Before reading a chapter, look at all the pictures, headings, and talk out loud and tell what you think this chapter will be about.
* Write vocabulary words in color on index cards with short definitions on the back. Review them frequently by reading the words aloud and saying the definition. Check the back to see if you were right.
* Before beginning an assignment, set the specific study goal and say it out loud. Example,
"First, I will read my history chapter."
* Read aloud whenever possible. In a quiet library, try "hearing the words in your head" as you read. Your brain needs to hear the words as your eyes read them.
* When doing complicated math problems, use graph paper (or use regular lined paper sideways) to help with alignment. Use color and graphic symbols to highlight main ideas in your notes, textbooks, handouts, etc.
Suggestions for Haptic Learners
You will learn best by doing, moving, or hands-on experiences. Getting information from a textbook (visually) or a lecture (auditory) is just not as easy. Try some of these suggestions and create some more that will work for you.
* To memorize, pace or walk around while reciting to yourself or looking at a list or index card.
* When reading a textbook chapter, first look at the pictures, then read the summary or end-of-chapter questions, then look over the section headings and bold-faced words. Get a "feel" for the whole chapter by reading the end selections first, and then work your way to the front of the chapter. This is working whole-to-part.
* If you need to fidget when in class, cross your legs and bounce or jiggle the foot that is off the floor. Experiment with other ways of moving; just be sure you're not making noise or disturbing others. Try squeezing a tennis or nerf ball.
* You may not study best at a desk, so when you're at home, try studying while lying on your stomach or back. Also try studying with music in the background.
* If you have a stationary bicycle, try reading while pedaling. Some bicycle shops sell reading racks that will attach to the handle bars and hold your book.
* Use a bright piece of construction paper in your favorite color as a desk blotter. This is called color grounding. It will help you focus your attention. Also, try reading through a colored transparency. Experiment with different colors and different ways of using color.
* When studying, take breaks as frequently as you need. Just be sure to get right back to the task. A reasonable schedule is 20-30 minutes of study and 5 minutes of break. (TV watching and telephone talking should not be done during break time!)
* When trying to memorize information, try closing your eyes and writing the information in the air or on a desk or carpet with your finger. Picture the words in your head as you do this. If possible, hear them too. Later, when trying to recall this information, close your eyes and see it with your "mind's eye" and "hear" it in your head.