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Cara Summerfield, M.Ed. M.A.

Learning Styles

How do you learn best? Is it through seeing and watching, hearing and listening, or by doing and touching? Everyone has their own way of learning which makes training adults a challenge. However, if the trainer is aware of these different styles, the course can be tailored to work for everyone. Sometimes, It can be difficult to pinpoint exactly what type of learner you are because you may be more visual then auditory, or you may need the stimulation of images while doing the work as in an online course. It becomes more of a challenge when a trainer or teacher does not design the class for each style. There will be a certain percent of students that will not acquire the knowledge that the training was planned for originally. These styles include:

Visual learners may think in pictures. People with Dislexia (condition where the brain disassembles information and assembles jumbled) tend to do better with images rather than a bunch of text. With the onset of multimedia, visual learners are able to perceive information in a format that is easily transferred into learning. Details are a must for the visual learner. When taking notes, you can see this type of learner busily taking detailed notes to ensure that they digest the information given. If the training is being done in a room environment, it would be beneficial to visual learners to be up front so that they can keep their eyes on the trainer. They have learned how to read body language and facial expressions so that they can fully understand the content of the course. If online, plenty of images and videos will keep them connected with the training.

Auditory learners find that they learn by listening to lectures, participating in discussions, and reading text aloud or using a tape recorder to play back later. Their listening skills have been honed to hear the tone of voice, pitch, speed and other aspects. Reading to themselves will have little effect on the learning process. When training auditory learners in a classroom environment, it is extremely important to lecture and then open the topic up to discussion. If the course is online, audio versions of the text should be strategically placed on the page.

Kinesthetic learners learn best when doing hands-on activities. A good example of this is computer courses. You almost have to be able to have the hands-on experience in order to be able to apply the learning. Not to be confused with ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder), kinesthetic learners need to be active. They find it difficult to sit still for long periods of time listening or watching. It is as if their minds need further stimulation requiring physical movement. In a classroom environment, these learners would benefit most from group activities and games to keep their minds learning.

Multimedia when used appropriately can help support the learning process. If the designer is trained in the use of multimedia, the training session will be dynamic. In current times, it is extremely important to keep students focused. This is the trainer's responsibility.

Adults are no longer patient in listening to someone talk for hours. Multimedia comes into play to support all learning styles, whether it be visual, audio, or kinesthetic. Designing for all learning styles can be a challenge. However, if all three styles are taken into consideration when the program is developed, the training can be effective and successful.