American classrooms in the 19th century often featured dry lessons: rote memorization through repetitive testing and rehearsal of information. Modern American schoolchildren enjoy a much richer educational experience, in part because many educators incorporate the concept of learning styles into their lessons.FeaturesA learning style describes the way a person can successfully learn new information. Most students rely on only one or two types of learning styles, according to educator Alan Pritchard in "Ways of Learning: Learning Theories and Learning Styles in the Classroom."
HistoryThe idea that people process information in particular ways emerged from the notion of determining personality types. Personality tests such as the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, which appeared in the 1960s, led to the development of learning-style tests by the 1980s.
TypesOne popular model of learning styles places learners into the categories of visual, aural, reading/writing or kinesthetic (VARK). Visual learners enjoy taking in information through pictures, aural learners learn by listening, reading/writing learners master material by either reading or writing about it and kinesthetic learners process lessons by performing related activities.
EffectsWhen teachers use learning styles in their lessons, the result is often improved academic performance from their students, according to education scholar Barbara Gross Davis in "Tools for Teaching."
Expert InsightAccording to Pritchard, learning styles are not invariable; students will be more successful if they use multiple learning styles, matching the style to the situation at hand.
Source:"Learning Styles Again: VARKing Up the Right Tree"; Neil Fleming and David Baume; 2006
"Learning Styles: Concepts and Evidence"; Harold Pashler et al.; 2008
"Tools for Teaching"; Barbara Gross Davis; 2009
"Ways of Learning: Learning Theories and Learning Styles in the Classroom"; Alan Pritchard; 2008
More Information:Vark--A Guide to Learning Styles: The VARK Questionnaire