Learning styles can be described as various ways as well as approaches through which individuals learn new ideas, skills and knowledge. These ways and approaches involve various education methods that are taken as effective and efficient in terms of allowing an individual to have the best learning experience. In most cases, individuals tend to advocate for learning styles which involve interaction, taking in of ideas and processing of information. However, the preference is based on individual abilities and teaching tactics that suits a particular learning style (Keefe, 2009).
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It is proposed that the role of teachers and other training professionals is to asses the learning styles of various students in their class to enable them adapt their lecture room methods in order to fit the learning style of each and every student in class (Spoon & Schell, 1998). However, this proposal has faced a lot of criticisms. For instance, opponents of the proposal claim that it is invalid that students who are taught by their preferred learning styles perform better or record improved outcomes. They also dismiss the claims that students will learn best if subjected to their preferred learning styles (Glenn, 2010). The opponents, however, accept the fact that various individuals have their varying preferences of learning styles. Following this agreement, it is recognized that people have their own preferences in terms of learning styles and techniques. Many people have a mix of these learning styles in a way that they tend to prefer different styles of learning depending on the circumstances. With time, individuals tend to make certain learning styles dominant with far less use of other remaining learning styles. The whole issue revolves around developing the right mix and adopting the most suitable styles (Glenn, 2010).
Recently, most scholars have adopted a combination of multiple learning styles and multiple learning intelligences for learning. Most educators are also applying this approach to re-organize and teach students as opposed to the traditional schooling where linguistic and logical methods of teaching are prominent. Many of traditional learning methods rely on classroom as well as book based teaching with much repetition and pressuring assessment tests/exams for students. At the end, those who prefer these learning styles or methods are graded as bright and intelligent as compared to those who use less favored learning styles. The speed and learning quality can only be enhanced if an individual will recognize and understand his/her learning styles preference to enable him/her use learning techniques that are best suited for him/her (Merrill, 2000).
Types of learning styles
There are various types of learning styles. The first one is known as visual or spatial which is a learning style where the proponents prefer using images, pictures and spatial understanding to enhance learning. The second one is known as aural/auditory music learning which a learning style is where the users prefer the use of music and other sounds as forms of learning. The third type is called verbal or linguistic learning style. This is a learning style where the users prefer the use of words on both writing and speech to enhance learning activities. The fourth learning style is known as physical or kinesthetic (Glenn, 2010). This is a learning style where the proponents prefer using the body, hands and the sense of touch as a learning means. There is also logical learning style, also known as mathematical, where the learners prefer the use of logistics, systems and own reasoning. Social or interpersonal learning is another learning style where the learners prefer to learn in groups or with other people in form of discussions, idea sharing and consultations. Lastly, there is solitary or intrapersonal learning style where the learners prefer to work alone and use self study tactics to gain knowledge, skills and ideas (Glenn, 2010).
In this sense, learners are classified into various main categories: Visual learners normally learn through seeing. They have to see the body language and facial expression of their teacher in order to understand the lesson context. Such learners prefer to take front seats in classroom so as to avoid any obstructions that may hinder their learning. They learn best through thinking in pictures, images and other visual displays including charts, tables, diagrams, videos and illustrated textbooks. They also prefer handouts or take detailed notes during class hours to absorb or learn most of the information (Merrill, 2000).
Auditory learners on the other hand simply learn through listening. Their best modes of learning include verbal lectures, verbal discussions and listening to ideas from other people. They interpret the background meaning of speeches by listening to voice tone, pitch, speed and other features. For them, written information may prove unfruitful till it is read out or heard. The use of tape recording and loud reading of texts best suits these learners (Stewart, 1992).
There are also kinesthetic or tactile learners. They learn through touching, moving and doing things. They use a hands approach to enhancing their learning by physically exploring their surrounding. Such type of learners have difficulties with sitting still for a long time since they find themselves distracted by the urge to move, need for activity as well as need for exploration (Merrill, 2000).
Other categories of learners include intuitive, reflective, global and sequential learners. Intuitive learners are learners who prefer to use innovative, conceptual and theoretical information to enhance learning activities. Such learners mostly look for meaning of concepts, skills and ideas to be learned. Reflective learners, on the other hand, prefer to approach learning by evaluating concepts at hand, thinking through and learn by analysis. They normally have fun when figuring a problem on their own. Global learners are those that approach learning from a holistic point of view where by they prefer seeing the big picture first before exploring the finer details. Lastly, sequential learners approach learning by presenting the information linearly, orderly and systematic manner. They refer putting together the finer details in order to understand the bigger picture (Keefe, 2009).
Understanding the basis of learning styles
According to research, each and very style of learning makes use of different parts of the brain. By involving the brain in the learning process, individuals are able to recall or remember whatever they have learned. The brain imaging technologies, as employed by various researchers have come up with a structure on how various brain parts are responsible for various learning styles. Considering visual learning, the occipital lobes and parietal manages visual sense and spatial orientation respectively. For oral learning, temporal lobes and the right temporal lobe are responsible for aural content and music respectively. The frontal lobe and the temporal lobe located in the brain’s left hemisphere control the verbal learning. Physical learning is enhanced by both motor cortex and the cerebellum at the back of frontal lobe. The left side of parietal lobes control logical thinking while frontal and temporal lobes enhance social learning. Solitary learning style is enhanced by frontal, parietal and the limbic system (Keefe, 2009).
Each and every individual has own preference when it comes to learning styles. The learning styles have influence on motivation and the drive to work hard during learning process. Preferred learning styles guides on what approach the learner will take in the learning process. These styles alter the way individuals internally represent ideas and experiences, information remembrance and the choice of words (Merrill, 2000). However, all these style are means, routes and approaches of learning and are all likely to lead to the same outcome of meeting the initial objectives.