Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Responding to Different Learning Styles

As effective teachers, we need to be aware of the fact that students have different learning styles and we need to be aware of how respond to these different learning styles. This video shows that there are three different learning styles: auditory learners learn through listening, visual learners learn through seeing, and kinesthetic learners learn through doing or through activity. 
Most people have taken a learning styles inventory at some point in their school career. These are tests that ask the person taking the test a series of questions to determine their ideal learning style. Anyone who goes to Cortland remembers the VARK Learning Styles Inventory from COR 101 freshman year. VARK is just one of the most recent learning style inventories and actually breaks learning down into four different styles:

Visual-These learners learn best through visual examples (watching someone do a problem on the board, graphs, diagrams, etc.)

Aural-The same thing as auditory in the video above, these learners learn best from listening to someone else explain something. These learners may little to no notes in class

Read/Write-These learners have good reading comprehension and can remember most of what they read. They’re also good at remembering things they write down (take a lot of notes)

Kinesthetic-These learners learn through physical activity (performing a movement skill, acting out the orbit of the planets, etc.)

In order to be an effective teacher, you need to incorporate all of these learning styles into your lessons. This is why we, as pre-service physical education teachers, are taught to teach skills in a very specific way so that all learning styles are accounted for. Having relevant cues can help aural learners understand how to perform a skill. Having a poster with these cues written on it is even better because not only do you get the aural learners but you also get the reading/writing learners. If you recite your cues, as well as have them on a poster, and you have relevant pictures next to the cues on the poster, then you just took care of aural, reading/writing, and visual learners. Demonstrating the skill from different angles and at different speeds, while reciting the cues, also helps aural and visual learners. And finally, for all students, but especially kinesthetic learners, practice makes perfect.

Get a copy of the VARK Learning Styles Inventory here

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