The Felder-Silverman Learning Styles Model

Instructor: Dana Dance-Schissel

Dana teaches social sciences at the college level and English and psychology at the high school level. She has master's degrees in applied, clinical and community psychology.

Do you consider the individual learning styles of students in your teaching? This lesson will explain the Felder-Silverman learning styles model and will end with a short quiz to test what you have learned.

What Is A Learning Style?

Do you learn best by hearing someone talk? Or is it easier to learn when you are shown an image or diagram? Do you usually focus on the whole, or rather on the individual parts of something when learning? Your answers to these questions probably indicate your learning style.

Learning style is the manner in which one learns best. It is based on individual characteristics and preferences. Individual learning styles are important to consider in effective teaching because different students learn in different ways.

Now that we understand what a learning style is, let's take a look at the Felder-Silverman learning styles model.

The Felder-Silverman Learning Styles Model

Wouldn't it be great to teach in a way that increased learning for all students? This is challenging because students learn in various ways. What works for one student may miss the mark entirely for another. This dilemma led educators Richard Felder and Linda Silverman to create the Felder-Silverman learning styles model.

This model is designed to help both students and teachers. With it, students are able to understand their individual learning styles, which can then help them study more effectively. It can also help teachers deliver material in ways that appeal to the varied styles of learning present in their students.

The Felder-Silverman model is based on the notion that students have preferences in terms of the way they receive and process information. The model presents different dimensions that are indicative of learning preferences. Let's take a closer look at these dimensions.

Active and Reflective Learners

Some people learn best by doing. Others prefer to think things through instead. These differences distinguish between active and reflective learners.

According to the Felder-Silverman model, people sometimes vacillate between periods of being an active learner and being a reflective learner. However, most people lean more toward one learning style than the other.

Active learners love classroom activities because they help them process information. Conversely, reflective learners may become overwhelmed by activities or group projects. They process information better when they work individually and are able to take time to think about what they have heard or read.

Sensing and Intuitive Learners

Some courses require significant memorization of facts. Others focus on theoretical or conceptual ideas. The former is concrete, while the latter is more abstract. This exemplifies the differences between sensing and intuitive learners.

The Felder-Silverman learning styles model describes sensing learners as those who prefer to deal in facts. When problem solving, they rely on tried and true methods and formulas. They lean toward real-world scenarios.

Intuitive learners, on the other hand, are interested in innovation and novelty. They are more drawn to abstract ideas and hypothetical scenarios. They seek new ways to solve old problems.

Visual and Verbal Learners

The Felder-Silverman model assumes that people learn best when both visual and verbal information is used for instruction. However, Felder and Silverman take it a step further to state that most people are visual learners. Visual learners process information better when it is delivered with images, graphs, illustrations, and diagrams.

Verbal learners respond better to words. Most courses are designed for verbal learners, in that the lecture format is the most common method of delivering material. Verbal learners also benefit from discussions of ideas.

Sequential and Global Learners

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