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Vak Learning Styles

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Learners use all three to receive information. However, one or more of these receiving styles is normally dominant. This dominant style defines the best way for a person to learn new information by filtering what is to be learned. This style may not always to be the same for some tasks. The learner may prefer one style of learning for one task, and a combination of others for another task.

Classically, our learning style is forced upon us through life like this: In grades kindergarten to third, new information is presented to us kinesthetically; grades 4 to 8 are visually presented; while grades 9 to college and on into the business learning environment, information is presented to us auditory by lectures.

As trainers, we need to present information using all three styles. This allows all learners, no matter what their preferred style is, the opportunity to become involved. It also allows a learner to be presented with the other two methods of reinforcement. Just because we prefer one style, does not mean that the other two do us no good. On the contrary, they help us to learn even faster by reinforcing the material. Some hints for recognizing and implementing the three styles are:

Auditory learners often talk to themselves. They also may move their lips and read out loud. They may have difficulty with reading and writing tasks. They often do better talking to a colleague or a tape recorder and hearing what was said. To integrate this style into the learning environment:

Begin new material with a brief explanation of what is coming. Conclude with a summary of what has been covered. This is the old adage of "tell them what they are going to lean, teach them, and tell them what they have learned."

Use the Socratic method of lecturing by questioning learners to draw as much information from them as possible and then fill in the gaps with your own expertise.

Include auditory activities, such as brainstorming, buzz groups, or Jeopardy.

Leave plenty of time to debrief activities. This allows them to make connections of what they leaned and how it applies to their situation.

Have the learners verbalize the questions.

Develop an internal dialogue between yourself and the learners.

Visual learners have two subchannels - linguistic and spatial. Learners who are visual-linguistic like to learn through written language, such as reading and writing tasks. They remember what has been written down, even if they do not read it more than once. They like to write down directions and pay better attention to lectures if they watch them. Learners who are visual-spatial usually have difficulty with written language and do better with charts, demonstrations, videos, and other visual materials. They easily visualize faces and places by using their imagination and seldom get lost in new surroundings. To integrate this style into the learning environment:

Use graphs, charts, illustrations, or other visual aids.

Include outlines, agendas, handouts, etc. for reading and taking notes.

Include plenty of content in handouts to reread after the learning session.

Leave white space in handouts for note taking.

Invite questions to help them stay alert in auditory environments.

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