Human beings are exposed to greater amounts of information in our current society than at any other time in history. This information comes from many sources including visual media, written information, general broadcast media, personal devices such as iPods, and oral information shared in discussion, stories, lectures etc. The ways in which this information is taken in, processed and remembered are called learning modalities and are typically identified as visual, auditory and kinaesthetic. While we use all three modalities, there is usually a dominant one that becomes a natural preference and can influence the level of success we have in the ability to learn.
For parents of school-aged children a basic understanding of learning modalities is useful, especially if accessing assistance outside of school such as through Grace Simpkins Personal Tutors. It allows parents to liaise with the tutor to make sure the learning strategies employed support their children. While much of the research underpinning learning modalities is complex to the ordinary person, understanding the characteristics of each one and how they apply to individuals is not difficult.
Kinaesthetic learners use their hands and bodies to learn. They prefer doing, touching and direct involvement, and become fidgety and restless if they are required to watch visual aids or listen to instructions. They learn best from teachers whose dominant modality is also kinaesthetic.
Auditory learners need to hear the information to be able to process it. They often talk out loud to verbalise problems while they are solving them and excel when being taught in a traditional auditory classroom situation. If the auditory student is learning in an environment where, for example, a lot of quiet reading is taking place, they may talk or sing to themselves, or engage in other “noisy” activities.
For a visual learner, their eyes are the key to their learning. They prefer to read text by themselves, and respond well to graphs, charts, diagrams and pictures which help them make sense of information. Visual learners will typically take notes, enjoy using assignment notebooks, calendars and “to do” lists. A visual learner with an auditory teacher will spend time doodling on notepads, and not paying attention during a lecture.
The education system recognises the importance of these learning modalities and encourages teachers to use learning strategies that incorporate all of them, seeking to engage every student. Tutors also understands their importance and ensure that they use all three learning modalities when engaged in tutoring activities.
As babies, we are all kinaesthetic learners, exploring the world through touch and taste. As we grow older we become more auditory and visual, so it is very important that anyone teaching both children and adults presents the learning materials in all three modalities.