The Grasha-Riechmann 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.

Understanding individual learning styles is important for effective teaching. This lesson will explore the Grasha-Riechmann learning styles model. We will end with a short quiz.

What Is A Learning Style?

If you wanted to teach a classroom full of students how to tie their shoes, how would you do it? Would you explain the steps involved in tying shoes? Or maybe you would just show them how to tie shoes by tying your own and having them watch you. A third option might be to have each student practice tying his or her own shoes as you supervise and assist them.

Some of the students might pick it up just by listening to you speak. Others would likely learn it more effectively by watching you tie your shoes. Then there would probably be other students that would do best with hands-on guided practice. These differences are the result of individual learning styles. One's learning style is based on personal characteristics and preferences and is the manner in which he or she learns best.

Now that we understand what a learning style is, let's take a closer look at one specific learning styles model, the Grasha-Riechmann model.

Grasha-Riechmann Learning Styles Model

How much more effective would your teaching be if you knew each student's individual learning style? This was the question asked by Anthony Grasha and Sheryl Riechmann, the educators who created the Grasha-Riechmann Learning Styles Model.

This model is based on the notion that to maximize learning; we must truly understand individual learning styles. To do this, we must account for differences in student attitudes. Grasha and Riechmann identified six distinct learning styles based on the individual student's attitude toward learning. Let's take a look at each one now by using fictional students. We'll also offer some suggestions for maximizing learning in each type of student.


Don is the student in the class that always want to win or be correct. He frequently monopolizes the conversation and is aggressive in his attempts to earn the highest scores on assignments. How can Don's learning be maximized?

The Grasha-Riechmann model explains that competitive students like Don need opportunities for leadership in the classroom. This style of learner excels when there is the opportunity for reward, so contests and games in the classroom will elicit better performance.


Cameron is a student who loves group projects. Her performance is much better when working in a group than it is when she works independently. How can Cameron's learning style be accommodated in the classroom?

The Grasha-Riechmann model would categorize Cameron as a collaborative learner. They learn best when given opportunities to share ideas with others. They respond better to small group discussions than large group lectures. Independent projects are not ideal for collaborative learners.


Kelly is a student who skips class regularly and never participates with the teacher or other students when she is present. She earns very low scores on assignments and usually seems frazzled and overwhelmed. How can a student like Kelly be reached?

The Grasha-Riechmann learning styles model explains that avoidant students like Kelly learn better with a relaxed and even unenthusiastic teacher. These types of students also do better without class activities and tests. For example, students with an avoidant learning style might excel in a self-guided online class where interaction with the instructor and fellow students is minimal.


Tom might be described as the perfect student. He is always prepared for class and loves to participate. He is helpful, considerate and eager to learn. How can we make Tom's learning experience even more effective?

The Grasha-Riechmann learning styles model classifies students like Tom as participants. They thrive in class discussions and love activities where they get the chance to jump in. They are highly motivated to learn and need organized and enthusiastic teachers to reach their maximum potential.


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