Learning styles are simply different ways of learning. Most learners use a combination of visual, auditory, and kinesthetic ways of receiving information. However, one or more of these styles is usually dominant. This dominant style defines the best way for a person to learn new information. This style may not always be the same for all tasks. Learners may prefer one style of learning for one task, and a combination of others for another task.
Visual learners learn best by seeing. They may need to see the teacher's body language and facial expression to fully understand the content of a lesson. They tend to prefer sitting at the front of the classroom to avoid visual barriers (e.g. people's heads). They may think in pictures and learn best from visual displays including: diagrams, illustrated text books, overhead transparencies, videos/DVDs, charts and hand-outs. During a lecture or classroom discussion, visual learners often prefer to take detailed notes to absorb the information. Visual learners may find something to watch if they are bored.
Auditory learners learn best through listening—lectures, discussions, talking things through and listening to what others have to say. Auditory learners focus in on tone of voice, pitch, speed and other aspects of verbal presentations. Written information may have little meaning until it is heard. These learners prefer to sit where they can hear, but may not pay attention to what is happening up front. They may hum or talk to themselves or others when bored. Auditory learners often benefit from reading text aloud and using a tape recorder.
Kinesthetic learners learn best through moving, doing and touching. They prefer a hands-on approach, actively exploring the physical world around them, and enjoy activities such as cooking, construction, and art. They communicate by touching and appreciate physical encouragement from others (such as a pat on the back). Kinesthetic learners remember what was done, but may have difficulty recalling what was said or seen. They may find it hard to sit still for long periods and may become distracted by their need for activity and exploration. Kinesthetic learners often need to take frequent breaks and may tinker or move around when bored. They may benefit from sitting near the door or someplace that allows them to easily get up and move around.