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June 27, 2013   Practice Building Ideas

Part One- A Brief Overview of Learning Styles and Why It’s Important to Identify Yours

There are three common learning styles; Kinesthetic, Auditory and Visual. A Kinesthetic learner will process information better by using their large or small muscle groups in a hands-on activity or even by pacing when someone is lecturing. Someone that’s more predominantly Auditory can learn by hearing what is said and a Visual learner can simply watch a presentation or a diagram being drawn and the information will process.

Here are some questions to help you identify your learning style. Do you remember something best when you are physically using your hands to be a part of the learning? Do you learn best by watching your teacher write what they are saying in visually appealing colors? Or are you content to listen and process information on an audio book or lecture? Some people can cross from one style to another however it is likely that one will be more dominant. There will be times that you need all three to process the subject matter. This will be discussed in a future blog post.

A Kinesthetic learner will best process information if they are pacing, swinging their legs or even utilizing their small muscle groups by chewing gum, twirling a pencil or snacking on something crunchy. As you can probably guess, most children are in this group until they begin to reach late elementary or early junior high school age which is why recess is such a big part of their day. They need that large muscle movement of running and jumping every two hours to be able to come inside and focus. Many adults also need to be able to get up and physically exert energy to focus as well.

If we were to watch a person that learned best visually they are likely the person at the front of the room that rarely takes their eyes off the presenter and can read for long amounts of time without tiring. This group will process information better by taking notes and highlighting handouts or books.

Finally, a person that leans toward Auditory learning does well in traditional classroom settings where lectures and student discussions are the norm. However, if they begin to struggle with a hands-on project or looking at a presentation for a long period of time, having them read the information out loud will greatly increase their retention of the information. Many also can benefit from using tape recorders and playing them back or having a group study session where they can discuss what was shown.

Becoming more aware of our learning pattern and others’ gives us empowerment and control not only in our own education, but with our interactions at work and with family. It allows us to make the necessary adjustments to more clearly reach the audience we want to, along with learning and hearing what we are being taught.

I would suggest the next time you have a conversation with a client, try to identify their learning style, or better yet ask them! Determining the client’s primary learning style will allow you to maximize your ability to communicate effectively and in a manner that makes sense to them.

Linda St. John
Education Coordinator
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