Learning styles refer to the different ways that different people are best able to learn new information. The idea of different learning styles has come from extensive psychological research, determining how people receive new information, code that information mentally for storage, and then recall that stored information at a later time. While traditional forms of education have only focused on one or two different learning styles, newer approaches to education have introduced a greater focus on utilizing multiple learning styles to ensure that different students can learn as effectively as possible.
Though different schools of thought may consider different learning styles, there are five general styles, with two other social styles, that people commonly fall into. The five major styles are visual, aural, verbal, physical, and logical. Along with these five styles, there are also social and solitary learning styles as well. These are not necessarily mutually exclusive styles, and people commonly learn in multiple ways within these different styles.
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Visual, or spatial, learning refers to people who learn most effectively through what they can see. People who are visual learners often prefer to be toward the front of a classroom so their view is unobstructed, and seeing the facial expressions and body language of a teacher can also be important to their learning. Visual learners also typically benefit a great deal from visual aids such as graphs, charts, pictures, and diagrams. Aural, or auditory-musical, learners are best able to learn through hearing material. These types of learners benefit from oral lectures and often read aloud to themselves when covering material in a textbook.
Verbal, or linguistic, learners typically learn best through language, both through listening and reading. These types of learners benefit a great deal from language and often excel in classes where language is stressed, such as English and reading. Physical, or kinesthetic, learners often learn best through doing things physically. These types of learners may do well in science classes with a great deal of lab work, or in sports and other physical activities. Physical learners also tend to learn well while moving, and little movements such as tapping a pencil, tapping their toes, or shifting in their seat can sometimes enhance their learning.
Logical, or mathematical, learners tend to learn through logical understanding of how things work and relate. These types of learners often make lists and tend to excel at math and science; in other subjects they may often ask how things are connected or relate to each other. Social learners learn well in groups, either in full class or small group discussions. Solitary learners tend to learn best through self-study or by working alone. The use of multiple teaching techniques and approaches that take advantage of the various learning styles can be important for a teacher to effectively reach all the students in a classroom and help them learn the material.