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Working With Learning Modalities: Tips for Visual, Auditory, and Kinesthetic Learners

By Keren Perles

There are three main learning modalities – visual, auditory, and kinesthetic. You can give each type of learner tips that will help them learn and study more effectively.

Visual Learners

Visual learners often feel lost in a classroom where oral instruction and verbal discussion are the main teaching methods. If you have a student who is a visual learner, there are various tips you can use to help her learn more effectively. Most visual learners benefit from taking notes, and they can make their notes as organized as they’d like. A visual learner may enjoy color-coding various subjects to give them a greater visual appeal, or she may prefer dividing the information in her notes into various charts and graphs in order to visually represent what you are hearing. Graphic organizers and highlighters can be especially helpful tools for visual learners.

In addition to organizing your notes visually, the visual learner can focus on translating what she hear orally into visual pictures – in her own head. She can try to imagine a mental picture of what is being said, or visualize the words that are being spoken. She can also use mnemonics in order to remember complicated facts, and she may want to make flash cards in order to more easily remember connected details, such as words and their definitions.

Auditory Learners

Auditory learners learn well in a classroom environment based around a lecture or a discussion, but they may find it difficult to learn information from a textbook or to remember events in a story. If you have a student who is an auditory learner, he may want to try reading information aloud rather than just by sight. The visual learner can also try recording himself reading from a textbook or from his notes and listening to the recording over and over again. Books on tape can be excellent tools for auditory learners, as can rhyming mnemonics.

One interesting way that auditory learners can tackle difficult subjects is by working in study groups and having discussions on the information they are studying. They can also teach the information to other students, or even repeat the information to themselves while looking in a mirror. Any of these techniques enable them to build on their natural speaking ability while allowing them to hear the information they are trying to learn.

Kinesthetic Learners

Like visual learners, kinesthetic learners can benefit from taking notes. Sometimes just the physical action of writing the words can help them to focus and learn the material. Kinesthetic learners may study by simply writing their notes over and over again. If you have a student who is a kinesthetic learner, don’t hold her back from fidgeting as she studies – pacing the floor, tapping a pencil, or even tossing a ball up in the air and catching it. For some subjects, such as literature or history, it may help to role play various characters or act out scenes that he needs to understand and remember well.

Once you have identified which of these three learning modalities – visual, auditory, or kinesthetic – most strongly helps each students learn, you can give them tips about how to learn and study more effectively.