May 15

Getting to the root of how people learn

There are a lot of theories revolving around how people learn, and even though psychologists have argued over how we learn for centuries, the VAK theory seems to be widely accepted (at least in part). The VAK theory says that we all learn in three ways; Visually, via Audio or via Kinesthetic. It is widely believed that we all learn through a mixture of the three, but that many people favor one over the other.

Most people have a mix of VAK

There are very few people who are angled one way in a very severe manner, but, you will notice them within your school. There is the kid who is always playing music (audio), there is the bookworm who sits at the front of the class (visual), and there is the kid who seems to be naturally talented at every sport (Kinesthetic). People who are buried deep in one of the three will always have trouble in life. The Kinesthetic learner is going to find doing his/her tax return a nightmare, the visual learner is going to struggle learning to drive, and audio learner is going to struggle in a job where he/she cannot talk.

Our school system is biased towards visual learners

This is still a problem even today, and even though schools are trying to evolve their curriculum in order to change this, it still seems that people who are strong visual learners still have an advantage in our school.

Visual learners benefit from learning with:

Anything that is purely visual, such as text, maps, graphs, pictures and charts. They often require a clear view of the teacher if the teacher is talking, and do not tend to do very well with audio learning from MP3 or from audio books.

A visual learner will benefit from highlighting text with color, and will benefit from teacher handouts. Some students get a great benefit from mind mapping or brainstorming bubbles.

Visual learners have really taken to learning with computers, and some even benefit from learning videos (especially PowerPoint projects). Silence is golden if a student is a visual learner. Movement and noise will bother a visual learner more than any other type of learner.

Audio learners benefit from learning with:

They will tend to retain more knowledge from spoken lectures, and especially from classroom debates or discussions. Often, if an audio learner is asked to give a speech or a presentation, the student will be able to recall a lot of the presentation after the fact.

An audio learner will often benefit from making audio notes rather than written ones. In fact, many complain that when they start writing down their ideas or notes, that they have forgotten what they wanted to write by the time they have finished the second sentence.

Many audio learners find concepts easier to absorb if they read them out aloud to themselves. Some people use mnemonics to help them remember, and some people have used jingles to remember a string of information (such as the alphabet or all the states).

An audio learner will often use verbal analogies to get a point across, and tend to put events into a story so that they can retain the information.

Kinesthetic learners benefit from learning with:

Some Kinesthetic have no problem playing music whilst they study. Music is a proven distraction, but with kinesthetic learners, they themselves are the biggest distraction. If you put a kinesthetic learner in a quiet room, then he or she will start to entertain himself or herself.

A Kinesthetic learner should take very frequent study breaks. Otherwise, there is a risk that the kinesthetic learner will become distracted whilst studying and will lose a lot of productive time. It is better to force regimented study breaks than it is to let the kinesthetic learner’s mind wander.

They tend to enjoy learning new physical things, anything from learning how to ride a bike to learning how to sculpt ice. Many Kinesthetic learners also prefer to work in a standing position.

A Kinesthetic learner should highlight text with bright colors, and annotate it wherever he or she feels something is important. Kinesthetic learners are notorious skim readers. If you are a Kinesthetic learner, you need to learn how to skim read text to get an idea of what it is about, and then settle into reading it. This way, your subconscious will be less distracted as you read. It is a bit like telling your brain who the murderer is in a murder mystery, so that you do not try to skim to the end to find out.

Contributors Bio

Contributor photo Lona Glenn
Los Angeles
Lona graduated from Los Angeles City College. While being a lecturer in several high school institutions Lona founded an online educational project Tutorsclass.Read more
Contributor photo Maria Castle
Davis, CA
I studied education and currently work as a tutor for school-age children. I've worked as a volunteer in many different international social projects and as a camp counselor every summer.Read more

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