Researchers are asking a pivitol question recently and that is whether learning styles important. Several studies have noted that learning styles do not really matter and there are some who argue they really do not exist at all.
The truth is though that people have a unique way of approaching all tasks, learning related or not. Ask yourself whether you read instructions before putting something together or prefer to use a hands on method of simply feeling it through to completion.
How about when you recall a book you read? Do you hear the words, see the words turned into images, or recall based on your tactile overall feeling of the book?
In learning how to learn, students often benefit from understanding that certain outcomes that measure progress in school, such as written tests, favor certain learning styles from the outset. Think about it.
When you recall an image in your mind (the visual learning style), you can turn that image into words for a written test very very quickly. This is supported by brain studies showing how rapidly people process images over a word by word more auditory approach.
In this article in Scientific American, there is reference to the fact that learning styles are not important and do not matter.
However, they may not have considered that kids who exhibit all the visual learning style traits such as neatness, a forward timeline in their mind, turning words into images, etc. do in fact tend to get higher grades in school.
The reason – school tends to measure kids for success in a highly visual format, i.e. the use of written tests.
When there is a straight across match between how kids learn and how they are tested, kids who prefer a more visual learning style will outscore kids who do not nearly every time.
Ask any teacher in the real world. Are students who think in pictures doing better than kids who do not? You will discover the answer is yes nearly every single time.
Learning styles do matter and they play a significant role in how our students perform in school. Simply put, kids who favor kinesthetic or tactile hands on approach to learning, while very bright, may not be mastering the visual world called school.
They tend to be the ones who turn in crumpled up homework because they literally felt their way through the assignment. Their papers are not necessary very neat and organized and they do not always think through consequences of their actions only because they do not have the hard core visual timeline in their minds like visual learners do.
And the kids who are great story tellers and prefer to learn by listening and repeating things they have read, word by word in their mind, are someplace in the middle. My daughter is a high auditory learner and she excelled in school, only because I taught her to add some visual strategies to her preferred learning style.
Other students I have taught over the years who are high auditory take far to long during a written timed test. They do this not because they do not know the material but because they prefer to recall it word by word in their minds.
So, when you read or hear that learning styles do not matter, I urge you to reconsider and go into the trenches with real kids in the school environment. Relying on studies about learning styles may not be the most valid way to determine if they are important or not.
Just ask your kids how they prefer to learn, tell them that schools tend to favor kids who use the more highly visual learning style traits and help them out by sharing a few of those traits with them.
Have them take the free learning styles quiz here and spend some time asking them what they do in their minds when taking written tests. It helps to match up learning styles and testing styles, just as athletic coaches do. No coach tests a kid in writing to see if they make the team.
They match up the kinesthetic inupt (learning style) and hands on methods of hitting, throwing, catching a ball and the like to see if kids make the team.
Pat Wyman teaches kids how to learn and succeed in school. Her methods, over more than 30 years, have changed the lives of millions of students throughout the world, helping them develop their confidence in themselves to learn in any situation. She uses learning styles to show them that schools test in certain ways and how helpful it is to add some of those same testing learning styles to win the school game!
She has several best selling books such as Amazing Grades and Spelling Made Easy on Amazon and has developed one of the most successful assessment programs available to determine what is really holding a student back from complete success in school, and follows up with success solutions based on learning styles.
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