Naturally, visual learners do not enjoy reading books as auditory learners would, as written information is mostly processed in the mind's ears rather than by visualizing the text. Finally, a Kinesthetic or Tactile learner will predominantly learn information through touch and movement. In other words, kinesthetic learners would enjoy hands on laboratory session more than a routine class lecture. They also like to simulate events to understand them better. [Marcia L. Conner, pg 47]
Advantages of Knowing the Learning Style
Now that we have seen the domination of different modalities resulting in different learning styles among students, it is pertinent to understand the implications of such differences in context of their academic performance. Several studies have attested to that fact that only 20% of students learn through their auditory modality while 80% are either visual or kinesthetic. [Donna Walker, pg 16] However, in stark contrast, most of higher education is delivered in the form of lectures as the main teaching method. This, as can be inferred, is not ideal for the vast majority of students who rely on visual or tactile learning styles.
Knowledge about one's learning style can be useful for students to develop new and effective strategies to manage the increasing demands of school, college and other life situations. Learning style also helps students develop confidence in their strengths while at the same time aiding them to better prepare to deal with circumstances that are challenging. Being aware of their natural learning inclinations gives students a headstart in their learning process by helping them create their optimal learning settings. This implies that knowing one's learning style helps to make more effective use of time in learning new skills. Students can employ study techniques that are most conducive to their learning style. For instance, students who are primarily visual learners should seek out 'visual materials', 'ask for demonstrations', 'create charts', 'sketch images', etc. [Marcia L. Conner, 2004, pg 40] This approach complements the innate learning style of students who are primarily visual learners. Similarly students with an auditory inclination would do well to listen to words, 'use words to trigger memories', 'use summary notes', 'read information from books', 'read aloud', etc. these practices are conducive for auditory learners. [Marcia L. Conner, 2004, pg 44]
The idea of different learning skills also helps develop new perspectives among students and encourages them not to give up on tasks just because they appear to be difficult. Students with knowledge of their own learning style, would instead of giving up on any task citing difficulty, attempt the same using alternative learning styles. This helps students develop versatility and confidence in their own abilities. In other words, understanding the personal learning style enables students to better manage their weaknesses by bringing more focus on these areas. Knowing one's learning style could also help in choosing ideal collaborative study partners as well as in choosing the right career decisions.
Knowledge of learning styles is an indispensable factor for students to devise effective strategies to deal with the increasingly complex demands they face in their academic pursuits. While understanding the learning style of the students is a vital tool for instructors to effectively impart education, it is also equally important for the students to be aware of their dominant learning modality. This knowledge helps them to strike an effective balance between their strong points and their weaknesses creating an ideal climate for achieving optimal academic performance. It also helps students adapt to conducive learning methodologies that lead to more effective grasp of the subject, quicker recollection, and improved presentation of learnt information. Though not a panacea for all the educational problems, there is no question of doubt that a student's awareness of his learning style would significantly improve his ability to assimilate information and provide him with the right tools necessary for the development of academic ability to the fullest potential, which is the ultimate objective of imparting education.
1) Marcia L. Conner, (2004) 'Learn More Now: 10 Simple steps to Learning Better, Smarter and Faster',
2) Richard M. Felder, (2005), 'Understanding Student Differences', Journal of Engineering education, 94(1) 57-72, available online at, http://www4.ncsu.edu/unity/lockers/users/f/felder/public/Papers/Understanding_Differences.pdf
3) Donna Walker Tileston, (2005) 10 Best Teaching Practices: How Brain research, Learning Styles and Standards Define Teaching Competences', Published by Corwin Press.