Learning Styles (and strategies!)

When I take notes in class, you would think I was trying to make a comic book.

There are doodles everywhere, different lettering, and a rainbow of colors splashed across each page. No, I’m not an aspiring artist, I’m a visual learner (also kinesthetic, but we’ll get to that in a minute). I need eye-catching images and all the important words jumping off the page for me to retain any of the information I’m trying to soak into my brain. All students have a preferred learning style.

There are various types of learning styles, and they are all sensory-based.

  • Auditory: learning through listening
  • Tactile/Kinesthetic: learning through physical activity or actively participating (aka hands-on)
  • Visual: learning through pictures, colors, graphs, etc.

When learning, the best method is to be taught initially through the strongest sense, then reinforced through the next strongest sense. Take me, for example. My strongest sense is kinesthetic. I learn best through hands-on activities, so things like building a diagram or conducting an experiment would help me understand a concept best. My next strongest sense is visual, so taking my (colorful) notes after an activity will help it stick.

Painting is the perfect activity for a visual/kinesthetic learner!

So where does OT come into all of this?

We work with individuals, supporting them to increase the performance skills of things that are meaningful to them. If we can figure out what type of learner they are, we can modify the things they do to better help them attain those skills. Here are a few strategies for each learning type.

Auditory:

  • reading out loud
  • pairing an activity with music
  • giving frequent verbal directions

Tactile/Kinesthetic:

  • using physical objects to explain a concept
  • physically writing notes
  • taking breaks to move around during a lesson
  • playing games that incorporate lesson

Visual:

  • encourage drawing to remember lessons
  • flash cards
  • using books with images

What type of learner are you? I’d love to know in the comments!

Leave a Reply