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Understanding Different Learning Styles

What is the best way to learn?

The best way for a person to learn depends on the person, of course. It is well know that people have different leaning styles that work best for them. The best approach for an instructor to take is to address a variety of learning styles with their teaching plan. It is also helpful to encourage students to understand their preferred leaning style. By the time students reach the college level it is often assumed that they have figured out the best and most productive way to study to retain information. Of course, this is not a correct assumption. Teachers should make students aware of the various learning styles and encourage them to consider their preferred style as they complete their studies.

Providing the right environment conducive to learning

The classroom environment can also have a big effect on the amount of learning that occurs. Here again, people are different and have different environmental preferences. Nevertheless, understand what effects the learning process is important to know. Some of the common learning styles and environmental factors that should be considered when attempting to create the best learning conditions are listed below.

(This following information was adapted from: Moore, Carol. (1992). Learning Styles - Classroom Adaptation<based primarily on Carbo Learning Styles>.

Learning Styles
Structure of Lessons

Most students learn best when there is a logical sequential, delineated lesson that provides the objective and systematic steps to do the assignment. This type of student benefits from the use of rubrics so that they can better follow lectures and assignments. However, some students do not like much structure and appreciate being given choices and allowed to be creative.


Some students benefit greatly from group activities and other do not. For those who are peer learners, pair them with another student when possible. For those who are self learners, do not force them into a group/peer-learning situation all the time. Cooperative learning is an important learning tool but some students are more introverted than others and may have difficulty participating in group activities.


Some students learn best by listening. Auditory learners do well with lecture, class discussions, etc. While lecture is considered the least effective teaching method, some students learn best by simply listening. These students may also be more sensitive to outside noises.


Visual learners benefit from a variety of ocular stimulation. One example would be the use of colors. These students like images and written information. They like to be able to read instructions or the text on their own to increase their understanding. When studying it is helpful for these student to use different color highlighters or pens as they are reading and taking notes. These students may also be more sensitive to visual distractions.


Most people learn best with hands-on activities, but some gain a lot more from it than others. Some students really increase their learn potential when they are give they opportunity to do something by themselves Especially in a science classroom there should be plenty of opportunities to learn by doing.


Environmental Factors



Formal vs. Informal

A formal setting would be the traditional desk and chair or possibly a table. An informal setting would be the floor, a couch, a beanbag, etc. Every student's brain will not function the same in the same postural position. So when you see a student slouching in a traditional desk or chair, it may simply mean that they would learn better in more of a informal setting.

Noise vs. Quiet

Some students find sound distracting and some find it calming. It may be beneficial to have several study areas established. One where the noise level is kept to a minimum and one where some background noise is present.


Room temperature also plays a key role in learning. If a student is too cold or too hot, they will have more of a hard time concentrating on what their learning task is. It is recommended that the classroom temperature be cool if possible. This way those who do not like being cold can simply wear another layer of clothing and be comfortable.

Bright vs. Dim

Everybody's eyes react differently to light. Some students may need to sit by a bright reading lamp while others may get a headache when too much light is present. A light level that all students find comfortable should be sought.


Some people need to have continuous movement as they are studying, such as tapping there fingers or foot on the floor, fooling with their hair, using a stress ball, or chewing gum. This is absolutely natural but if they are not alone studying, make sure they do not distract others.


The human body is built to move and it does particularly like to sit still for long periods of time. Have students to stand, stretch, and take short breaks as needed during studying. It is good to study in 20-30 minute increments with a brief break between each block of time. Research has shown that it only takes 30 seconds to rest and recharge the brain.


Teacher Tips

Appreciating and Valuing Diversity

Are You Really Listening?

Coaching for Success in the Classroom

Goal Setting

Developing an Interest in Science and Math

Developing Communication Skills

Developing Problem-solving Skills

Effective Discipline

Encouraging Cooperative Learning

Encouraging Creativity

Encouraging Students to Explore for Answers

Fostering Independent Thinking

Motivating Students

Overcoming the Fear of Making a Mistake

Practicing Effective Questioning


Self-Evaluation Using Video

Teaching with the Constructivist Learning Theory

Teamwork in the Classroom

There is Not Always Just One Right Answer

Understanding Different Learning Styles