Different learning styles and how to deal with them in a classroom

A learning style can be described as the most reliable approach in which a student prefers to successfully learn a new concept. Precisely, a learning style may refer to the preferential method in which the learner absorbs, comprehends, processes and retains information. Every student has his/her own way of learning and the style of learning may be determined by previous learning experiences, cognitive, emotional, environmental, genetic factors as well as her culture and society (Pritchard, 2013). The educators should therefore understand the differences in their learners’ styles of learning. This will enable them implement the best practices and strategies into their everyday activities, assessments and curriculum. The teacher can decide to accommodate different learning styles by varying the types of activities and assignments presented in the classroom.  The teacher should identify his students and be able to align the general curriculum with the learning styles. This will ensure that the whole class benefits (Pritchard, 2013). If the students are allowed to access information in terms they are comfortable with, it will boost their academic confidence.  There are three main types of learning styles namely; visual, auditory and kinaesthetic.

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isual learning style is one in which students do well through viewing concepts and take in the information by seeing it.  They usually love books and reading, like taking notes and relates best to written instructions by observing it as Vaishnav (2013) argues. They are normally good at spelling and prefer quiet places to study. They usually benefit from seeing, writing, reading or drawing concepts. Visual learners prefer the use of maps, images and graphic organizers to access and understand new information.  They have preference for visual things such as diagrams, pictures, displays, demonstrations, films, handouts, flip charts, among others. They also tend to perform a new task after reading the instructions or watching someone else do it first.  These types of learners are capable of working from lists and written directions as well as instructions (Riding & Rayner, 2013). To assist these types of learners, the teacher can make use of various methods through the learning process. He/she can provide opportunities for learning through the use of the identified learning preferences. Also, the teacher can allocate the visual learners front seats where they can see the presenter clearly (Vaishnav, 2013).  To support the verbal instruction, meaningful visual aids need to be incorporated. Encourage note taking and make use of colours to indicate essential information. During the learning process, making use of maps, webs, flow charts to organize materials is necessary. It is advisable to let the students pick out key words and ideas in their own writing and emphasize them in different colours to reveal organizational patterns clearly. Also writing and making use of flashcards for reviewing of the material can be utilized. In addition, drawing pictures and cartoons of concepts and using the chalkboard to note important information is relevant for visual learners (Rogowsky, Calhoun & Tallal, 2015).  Writing down materials on slips of paper and using proper sequence to move them around helps students to absorb content better. In case of a computer, letting the learner to experiment with diverse font sizes and styles to enhance readability improves absorption rate. In addition, one can write out checklists of required formulas and regularly misspelled words.  Besides, learners should recopy notes while studying and if necessary, it can be done severally.  The learners should look at the words, visualise them in his mind and repeat them to themselves. They also need to visualise the information on how to solve a problem.

Auditory learning refers to a learning style in which a person absorbs through listening. According to Knoll, Otani, Skeel & Van Horn (2016), auditory learners require hearing what is being said in order to comprehend. They are the most talkative in class and prefer giving oral reports than written ones.   They benefit from debates, lectures discussions and audiotapes since they use repetition as a method of study and gain from the use of mnemonic devices.  These learners may experience difficulties with written instructions. Auditory style allows learners perform well in new tasks after listening to instructions. They also enjoy receiving spoken instructions over the telephone and are able to remember each and every word in a song that they hear. They enjoy music, hums or sings often and enjoy being read to or listening to audio books. When using this style it is wise to seat them away from distractions and let them repeat important information (Knoll, Otani, Skeel & Van Horn, 2016). Incorporate songs into the presentation, using good expression when speaking and avoiding being monotonous are good tactics.  The style also involves asking for oral summaries of material, repeating instructions and key concepts among others.  Reading material aloud to them and questioning the learners about the material is one of the best tactics. The style also calls for the engagement the student in conversations about the subject matter and letting them tape lectures and review them together (Knoll, Otani, Skeel & Van Horn, 2016). Again, making use of a talking calculator, helping them put the material to a rhythm or tune and practise it aloud helps them to retain the content. Auditory style requires learners to be open to music and videos in the curriculum and putting into practice oral presentations. The learner can describe or teach information to others, brainstorm or study aloud with others.

Kinaesthetic or tactile learning is a learning style in which a person learns through physical experience such as touching, holding, feeling, doing, and practical experiences. Moyer and Savino (2015) argue that students that incorporate this style are hands-on learners and enjoy solving problems by physically working through them.  These are learners who can perform a new task by going ahead and attempting it first. They will try new things and are very outgoing.  These types of learners like experiments and never look at the instructions initially. To them, reading and spelling is not a priority. They often touch people while talking and are frequently in motion. The style allows the learners to enjoy discovery, benefit by using tools, and learn well by taking breaks (Moyer & Savino, 2015). It also involves activities such as moving, and learners find it hard to sit still listening to the teacher. They enjoy excursions where they can move around and use their hands. The kinaesthetic learners absorb the material well by imagining scenarios that illustrate the material.  The style allows the learners to gain knowledge through writing of materials to be learned or tracing diagrams or words on paper. To accommodate kinaesthetic learners, the teacher can use role play in the instruction to dramatize concepts. The teacher can also prompt the students to move objects to learn new concepts. He/she can as well assign students a play to write, imagine being a character from a novel to illustrate the moral of the story.  Allowing regular movement breaks and seating them towards the back of the classroom to avoid their movements which can distract others is important (Moyer & Savino, 2015). Use of models and real objects for visual aids and passing them around to the students as well as using textured paper and experiment with different sizes of pencils, pens and crayons to write down information can help learners a lot. The style can also be applied by writing out checklists of materials to be learned. The kinaesthetic learners can pace back and forth while studying.  They can also draw information while learning it, eliminate distracting objects from their desks, and break frequently when studying (Pritchard, 2013). They can get up and move around, take notes while reading or listening, as well as trace words and diagrams on paper. The style may require employing the use of body movement such as snapping fingers, new ideas or pacing while reciting materials learned.

Generally, different learning styles include visual, auditory and kinaesthetic can be used effectively in class.  This can be achieved by understanding the kind of learners one is dealing with so as to be able to put them into action. Knowing the means by which the students learn can be of great importance as it improves the opportunities for learning through the use of the identified learning preferences. The teacher should understand the differences in learners in order to maximize their learning potential. Every student in class has a different preferred way of learning.  As a teacher, one can incorporate various methods into the teaching so as to reach the majority of the learners. Besides one can integrate the teaching methods that will benefit each type of learner. One can present the information to the learners by use of ways such as audience participation, role play, among others. Apart from creating interest in learners, they will also able to learn better.



Knoll, A. R., Otani, H., Skeel, R. L., & Van Horn, K. R. (2016). Learning style, judgements of learning, and learning of verbal and visual information. British Journal of Psychology.

Moyer, M., & Savino, D. M. (2015). The Role of the Kinesthetic Learning Style and Prompted Responses in Teaching Management Courses. Global Education Journal, 2015(1).

Pritchard, A. (2013). Ways of Learning: Learning Theories and Learning Styles in the Classroom. Routledge.

Riding, R., & Rayner, S. (2013). Cognitive Styles and Learning Strategies: Understanding Style Differences in Learning and Behavior. Routledge.

Rogowsky, B. A., Calhoun, B. M., & Tallal, P. (2015). Matching Learning Style to Instructional Method: Effects on Comprehension. Journal of Educational Psychology, 107(1), 64.

Vaishnav, R. S. (2013). Learning Style and Academic Achievement of Secondary School Students. Voice of Research, 1(4), 1-4.