Learning styles

Have you heard the saying, you can’t judge an elephant on how well they climb a tree? This is because everyone learns differently. Every brain sees, stores and processes information differently.  Everyone has different strengths and weaknesses. People often teach in their own learning style. Understanding how people learn can help you be a more effective teacher and ensure you use activities that include all learners.

In this series, we will explain the different ways people process information. There are four main stages to learning information:

  • Perceiving, taking in information
  • Ordering, using the information
  • Remembering the information
  • Understanding the information

Most people use a mixture of different learning styles so they should not be labelled. Often, people find one way of learning easier than another, which means that way is dominant. If you can recognise the way of learning which makes the most sense to you, you will be able to remember, learn and understand information easier.

Recognising these learning styles in yourself is a great starting point. This helps teachers, therapists and parents to recognise the styles in children and this, in turn, helps you to connect and engage.

The three learning styles we will explain are:

Some people prefer to hear instructions on how to do a task, others prefer to look at a diagram, while others prefer to learn by doing, being active and using their hands. Neil Fleming is an educational researcher. He made the VAK model to explain the three learning styles, Visual, Auditory and Kinaesthetic.

According to the VAK model:

  • how you like to learn affects your behaviour and what you learn
  • learning styles should be matched with appropriate activities
  • when you learn in the way that makes the most sense to you, it helps your level of understanding, how much you want to learn and the way you recognise what you are learning
  • to improve learning, you need to know more than which style suits you, you also have to change your habits – for example, if you know you are a visual learner, seek out diagrams and flowcharts
  • learning styles are flexible but they mostly stay the same.

You can find out which type of learner you are by taking this questionnaire.

In this series, we will go through strategies which help people with each learning style.