Learning Styles and Preferences

Most individuals have a preferred way of gathering, interpreting, organizing and thinking about information. Some prefer to learn by active manipulation, others by reading, still others by talking about information.

No single style of learning has been shown to be better than any other and no single style leads to better learning. Nonetheless, it is important to recognize that a variety of learning preferences exist and they can explain the differences you will likely observe among students in your classes and consequently the need to develop a range of teaching strategies.

Four categories of learning styles

  1. Personality Models refer to basic personality characteristics, such as introvert versus extrovert.
  2. Information-processing Models reflect how people take in and process information. For example, some seek a global understanding while others prefer a step-by-step approach.
  3. Social Interaction Models focus on the ways students interact and behave in the classroom. Some students are learner oriented while others are grade oriented.
  4. Instructional Preference Models focus on the medium in which learning occurs. This could be reading, listening, observing, engaging in direct experience. (Claxton and Murrell, 1987)

When students are studying with methods compatible with their preferred way of learning, they tend to be more satisfied and productive. Learners move from one style to another depending on the situation. Teachers/presenters should try to use a variety of activities when presenting material. In that way you will meet a broad range of student learning styles and help your students/participants expand their repertoire of learning strategies.