This week we addressed Learning Styles. It’s a topic that I’ve grown more fond of over time. The major controversy amongst folks in higher ed is “should you adapt your teaching to learning styles?” Some research suggests it doesn’t make a big difference. Some suggests it really does. Some faculty will point out that once working in a job, your boss isn’t going to adapt their training for your style, others point out that college students have to cram a lot more into their head in a shorter period of time than an employee would.

So with a discussion of that, we dove into a discussion of learning styles. We used the free test from NCSU that is an index of learning styles, and this is what we came up with:

Learning Styles

We then had a group-wide discussion of the different styles, methods we used within our own style to learn better, and talked about how that knowledge could impact our design of a class session or course. Here’s the down and dirty:

  • Active learners learn best when they’re doing something with the information. Active students should seek out study groups and explain information to each other.
  • Reflective learners learn best when they think quietly about it first. They shouldn’t attempt to just memorize anything. They should think of questions/applications and write their own summary.
  • Sensing learners like facts and following established methods. They are more practical and prefer real-world connections. They should ask professors for these specific connections to the world and brainstorm connections with friends.
  • Intuitive learners like possibilities, relationships, innovation, and abstractions. They should ask for theories that link the facts covered in class.
  • Visual learnerslike pictures, diagrams, flowcharts, timelines, film, and demos. They should make concept maps of class and color code their notes.
  • Verbal learners like written and spoken words. They should write summaries of class in words and talk with friends.
  • Sequential learners are linear and like logical patterns. They should ask for steps that are skipped to fill in the blanks and make sure their notes take a logical order.
  • Global learners need to make large jumps and have “aha” moments. These students need to skim a chapter before class takes place. Rather than studying a little bit each day, they need to take several hours at once to take a “deep dive” into the material.

(I used color to pair the spectrum, see what I did there, Visual learners?!)

There are a lot of different thinkers out there reflecting on learning styles, and we only had time to focus in on this one interpretation. But you can see immediately how you can pull in techniques for each learner. For example, when discussing the catalog you can tie it into a larger discussion of databases and search theory as well as demo how you can use this to find a specific book your faculty member has told you to find. That alone would hit on sensing, intuitive, visual, verbal, and sequential.

Next week Roz will be addressing Teaching Styles. It’ll be a fun pair to the Learning Styles class!