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4 Ways to Determine Your New Students' Learning Styles

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With the start of the school year right around the corner, a fresh batch of students will soon enter your classroom. You'd like to customize your lesson plans to optimize their learning experience. As you get to know your new students, try these suggestions to identify their learning styles.

Understanding Learning Styles

There are many theories and models describing how students seem to best process information. These preferences for certain kinds of input and processing are often called ''learning styles.''

There are seven predominant learning styles:

Students can exhibit the characteristics of more than one learning style. Over time and with careful observation, you'll see which types of input and activities they most prefer. This will help you create a classroom environment and lesson plans that better meet your students' learning needs.

#1: Note-Taking Style

Watch your students as they take notes during your lectures. You can glean valuable clues regarding their learning styles this way, especially for these particular types.

Visual-spatial learners sometimes seem to daydream while listening to lectures. As they take notes, they might doodle on the paper; additionally, these students often color-code their notes.

Auditory learners don't take many notes, but they pay close attention during lectures. They might orally recap some of the lesson to help them process what they're learning and secure it in their long-term memories.

Verbal-linguistic learners take extensive, detailed notes. Sometimes they augment their notes with bulleted points and lists.

Logical learners see patterns in related information.

Logical-mathematical learners might draw their notes in a mind-mapping fashion to emphasize patterns and connections among pieces of information gleaned from a lecture.

#2: Problem-Solving

Visual-spatial learners tend to create graphs, charts, or drawings to help them visualize problems so they can solve them.

Auditory learners like to talk about problems and think out loud. Verbal-linguistic learners share this preference. For example, they may mine their textbooks or other written sources of information to help them think problems through. Verbal-linguistic learners might write out all the aspects of a given problem, so they can see them more clearly.

Kinesthetic-physical learners roll up their sleeves and work through problems in a hands-on manner. They like to take things apart, put them back together, and experiment firsthand.

Students with a kinesthetic learning style like hands-on experiences.

Logical-mathematical learners try to rationally analyze problems. They use strategic steps to find patterns that lead them to solutions.

Social-interpersonal learners prefer to work in groups, figuring out solutions through discussions with other students. They also thrive when working in pairs.

Solitary-intrapersonal learners like to work through problems on their own, quietly and reflectively. For instance, they might figure out answers by free writing in a journal.

#3: Social Behavior and Personal Tendencies

Visual-spatial learners are conscious of their appearance and tend to be well-groomed; they appreciate the visual aesthetic and like things to look a certain way. They can be shy and would rather work alone than in groups.

Auditory learners relish a good conversation and might be considered extroverts or ''social butterflies.'' They're often involved in chorus, band, or other musical pursuits.

Verbal-linguistic learners are avid readers who savor words and usually enjoy writing. They have highly developed vocabularies.

Students who savor reading and writing are often verbal/linguistic learners.

Kinesthetic-physical learners are frequently involved in sports, dancing, or other physical activities. They have tactile tendencies and like to experience things for themselves; on a field trip, for example, they might reach out to feel the texture of an old stone wall.

Social-intrapersonal learners are emotionally mature and conscious of the feelings of others. They like doing group projects at school.

Solitary-intrapersonal learners don't like group projects or study groups. While not antisocial, they can be somewhat introverted and individualistic and demonstrate a strong sense of self.

#4: Preferred Learning Aids

Visual-spatial learners gravitate toward maps, charts, photographs, and diagrams. They also use their imaginations to visualize concepts.

Visual/spatial learners favor maps, charts, and diagrams.

Auditory learners find lectures stimulating. With an uncanny memory for melodies and lyrics, they respond well to music as a learning tool.

Verbal-linguistic students rely strongly on written material and textbooks to foster their learning. They also pay close attention during lectures.

Kinesthetic-physical learners appreciate hands-on experiments or experiences. Opportunities to go up to the board and solve problems are welcome.

Social-interpersonal learners are collaborative, gaining knowledge by interacting with other students, who serve as living learning aids. Conversely, solitary-intrapersonal learners consider peace, quiet, and time alone their most powerful learning tools.

Tailoring Your Teaching

Every student learns differently and may embrace more than one learning style. Your knowledge of your students' learning styles can help you better tailor your teaching to their needs. You can even design your classroom to work for many different learning styles at once.

To find teaching resources that will appeal to all learning styles, check out Study.com's Teacher Edition. Gain access to our online library of lessons, quizzes, videos, and printable worksheets…and don't forget to continue your own education with our professional development courses!

By Michelle Baumgartner
November 2018
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