Kinesthetic. Visual. Audio. Those three words, these learning styles, categorized us in grade school. They shaped the way we learned, and the ways our teachers taught. The idea of learning styles has been around for decades. “For more than 30 years,” says the Association for Psychological Science, “the notion that teaching methods should match a student’s particular learning style has exerted a powerful influence on education.” As its influence has grown, so has the study of it. Ryan R. Jensen of our Geography department has researched the learning styles of student swithin different majors and learning environments. He identified three new learning styles that describe students working on group projects. And in a 2012 study published in the Asia Pacific Media Educator, he identified four types of communications learners:
Four types of Communications Learners
Global Conceptualizers care about the big picture, the “why” behind lists of facts and details. Concepts are easier to understand than memorized facts, and being sensible is better than being imaginative. These students remember what they see better than what they hear. They are globally, realistically, and sequentially (when it comes to writing) oriented. Global conceptualizers prefer classes dedicated to theory and concepts.
Verbal Learners gravitate to text rather than graphs and charts. They do not like theory-oriented courses. Surprisingly, they do not like reading for fun. Verbal learners do not like proofreading their own work because they are not detail-oriented. They remember things better when they experience them, rather than when they think about them. These students express their opinions boldly in group settings.
Realistic Visualizers see themselves as highly realistic and detail-oriented. These students prefer graphs and charts to obtain information. They understand the overall structures of subjects at the same level that they do their details. When these students remember or recall something, they can picture it in their minds. They learn better by talking things out with other students. Group work is their favorite when they can make a plan for the project. These student rarely get to know their classmates.
Ambiguous Conceptualizers feel most comfortable learning concepts and theory. Remembering what the teacher said is easier for them than recalling visual aids. Reading is their past-time. They love to share their thoughts in group collaboration and dive into projects without planning. These students can remember things that they have thought about easier than things they have done. These students like to master one concept before learning more.
How does this apply to you?
“In recommending a deeper understanding of learning styles,” says Jensen, “we do [not] propose a hyper-individualized approach in which each student is given a unique curriculum to match his or her specific style. But friction may be destructive when existing…thinking and learning learning skills are not called upon and developed. One example of destructive friction is the tendency instructors frequently have to take over as many learning and thinking activities as possible. Knowledge remains inert; that is to say students may learn many facts, formulas and theories but are unable to apply them to new problems.” Jensen suggests that teachers use their knowledge of learning styles to help students “gain satisfaction form learning and thus develop lifelong skills by better understanding their own learning processes and preferences.” It thus behooves students of all majors as well to gain that understanding to further capitalize on their education.
Do your instructors teach to your learning style?