Learning styles are used separately or combined together to gain maximum results to improve student learning. When used correctly in an activity, they will help students of all learning styles understand the material being presented to them. This essay will explore the three different types of learning styles, and discover ways that learning styles can engage students, helping them learn. With the help of scholarly sources, visual, aural, and kinesthetic learning styles will be investigated to gain a better understanding. There are three math activity examples in which all three learning styles are used to get the most out of student learning and time spent in the classroom. Gaining knowledge of personal learning style can help teachers find the best way to help their students. Looking deeper into learning styles, teachers can learn to identify the characteristics of a style, and utilize that knowledge in the classroom.
Exactly what are learning styles? Simply put, learning styles are the different ways an individual learns. There are three main learning styles that will be explored in this essay; visually, aurally, and kinesthetically. Every individual learns in a different way and at a different pace. Understanding what learning style best fits an individual can help that person excel in school, homework, personal life, and in a future career.
The first learning style to be explored is visual. As the name implies, visual learning is all about seeing. Students who are visual learners would rather look at something than just hear it explained. According to Bepko Learning Center from IUPUI, some common characteristics of visual learners include, “using visual objects such as graphs, charts, pictures, and seeing information, able to memorize and recall various information, tends to remember things that are written down, and learns better in lectures by watching them” (three learning styles, 2002).
Secondly, there is aurally, or auditory, learning. Individuals who are auditory learners would rather hear, or listen to information rather than seeing or reading it. These learners also prefer to speak and ask questions about materials to better absorb the information. “These individuals prefer to learn and to communicate information using sound. Aural learners tend to remember what they hear.” (Western Carolina university, 2012).
The third learning style is kinesthetic. This is learning by doing. Kinesthetic learners “likes to use the hands-on approach to learn new material, would rather demonstrate how to do something rather than verbally explaining it, usually prefers group work more than others” (three learning styles, 2002). Physically getting involved with new material is the preferred way of learning kinesthetically.
Learning styles in improving student learning
Combining all three of these learning styles can maximize student learning in the classroom. By hearing, seeing, and doing students will have a better chance of retaining new materials. Knowing each student in the classroom is important for student success, which also means knowing the best and most effective way a student learns. Effectively applying learning styles in the classroom will drastically improve student learning.
With the technology that is now available in classrooms, it is getting easier to cater to individual needs and learning styles. According to Dan Lake, a Blackboard Systems Consultant, “Teachers can take the more difficult math content, use interactive whiteboard captures with video and narration, and then post the resource for anytime student viewing. Students can also capture their whiteboard work and submit that presentation for assessment.” (Improving classroom, pg. 9). Using technology in this manner accommodates to visual learners because they get to watch the steps being performed on whiteboard. It benefits aural learners because they can listen to the steps as many times as they need to until they understand it. Kinesthetic learners can enjoy the hands-on learning of whiteboard, and navigate through the math at their own pace. Together, with technology, the three types of learning can be reached to accommodate each student’s own style.
By knowing how each learning style works, teachers can improve their student’s chance for success. For example, the University of Western Ontario has a list of ways to enhance a student’s learning style. “Visual learners should sit toward the front of the class, near the teacher and any visual aids. They should take notes and color code or add symbols to highlight key points in a lecture. Flash cards, charts, or time-lines can help visual learners understand readings more effectively.” (“The student development”, 2009).
For aural learners, the University of Western Ontario recommends “sitting away from doors, windows, or other sources of noise. Studying with a partner and making rhymes or jingles to help remember information. Also repeating questions out loud can help aural learners get a better understanding of what is being asked of them.” (“The student development”, 2009). Listening and communication is what helps aural learners succeed in a classroom, so small group work and having questions answered is a great way to improve student learning.
Kinesthetic learners should “consider using a laptop to take notes, use class breaks to stand up and stretch, and take a small object like a stress ball to play with in one hand while taking notes with the other.” (“The student development”, 2009). Hands-on learners are sometimes mislabeled as with ADHD, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, since they may have a hard time sitting still, so doing something physical before class can help them focus during class time. (“What it means”, 2012).
Math activities using learning styles
Addition is typically the first math concept taught to young children. In a math activity designed for first graders, the use of a manipulative would be used to teach them basic addition. By giving students each an individual bag of assorted colored candies, like M&M’s, they could learn sorting and addition. For example, they would be asked how many red candies there are, and then how many blue candies there are. Then they would be asked to add the red and the blue together and how many do they have all together now? They could then write the results in a sentence, like 3+4=7. Visual learners would excel in this activity because they have the use of manipulatives that they can see, and writing the math sentence acts as another visual aid. Aural learners would get to hear the instructions, which would help them understand the concept. Finally kinesthetic learners get to touch and handle the manipulative which would help them remember the activity and better understand the concept of addition.
Another fun math activity that utilizes learning styles for first graders is a one hundred day necklace project. With a box of fruit loops have students get one hundred fruit loops and separate them into ten piles of ten; each individual pile of ten should be the same color, getting a rainbow of color piles. Take a piece of string, and starting with one color, add one pile of ten fruit loops to the necklace, then move onto the next color and pile of ten, and so on until there is a necklace full of one hundred fruit loops. This activity involves counting, sorting, and hand eye coordination. It is good for visual learners because the necklace acts like a visual aid, and they can see the ten groups of ten, helping them count by tens. It is good for aural learners because they can also hear the counting by tens up to one hundred. Kinesthetic learners will enjoys the hands-on experience with the fruit loops, and making the ten different piles adding up to one hundred.
Tic-Tac-Toe math is also a great activity that utilizes the learning styles. For this, create a tic-tac-toe board with math problems, either addition or subtract for first graders. In teams of two, take turns picking a square and then solve the math problem. If the problem is solved correctly, the student claims that box by marking X or O. The rules are just like regular tic-tac-toe, which makes it fun and familiar for first graders. Visual learners will excel because of the game board visual aid. Aural learners can say the math problem out loud to help them reach a solution. Kinesthetic learners will appreciate the game aspect of this activity.
Through the learning styles survey, I confirmed that I am a visual learner. I like to see things demonstrated first before I try to tackle the problem. This is especially true in math class. With so many formulas and different methods to approaching the same topic, it is helpful for me to watch how it is done step by step before I can fully understand what it is that I am supposed to do. In high school, I used to go into math class on Sunday evenings, and after school so that I could have one on one time with the teacher so she could demonstrate to me how to solve a problem. I am more of a listener than a talker, so I do not participate in classroom discussions as much as I need to, so I needed that one on one time to completely learn the material. Knowing how I learn, I was able to make flash cards and endless amounts of charts to help me remember the formulas or tricks to solving problems. Without the knowledge of how I learn best, I would have wasted a lot of time reading the same material over and over trying to understand it. Instead I found ways that worked for me, and succeed in getting good grades in math, even though it was a hard subject for me.
Learning styles can affect how a person learns, solves problems, communicates thinks, and how they work. Knowing the difference in learning styles can help students succeed in the classroom and in life in general. Teachers have an especially important job in helping students learn who they are, and how they learn, which is why it is important for teachers to know how to effectively utilize learning styles in the classroom. Teachers are setting students up for a lifetime of learning, it is important they do it correctly and with a passion.
Improving classroom learning. K-12. Blackboard Retrieved from