Learning Styles and Skills
Many educators agree that learning styles are important but they disagree on what the basic learning styles are and how we should use this information.
The most commonly used learning styles are tied to Howard’ Gardner’s concept of Multiple Intelligences. These were created to combat the idea of intelligence as “whatever it is that is measured on intelligence tests”. Actually most IQ tests depend only on our verbal and logical-mathematical intelligences. Gardner argues that there are musical geniuses, Artistic geniuses, Athletic geniuses and more.
To learn more about Howard Gardner, how his theory has ben translated into learning styles, and how I suggest they should actually be used, read Multiple Intelligences
The Seven Intelligences
- “Linguistic Intelligence:” This is sometimes called Verbal/Linguistic. It includes reading, writing, speaking, abstract reasoning, story telling and more.
- “Logical-Mathematical Intelligence”
- “Spatial Intelligence” This is often called Visual/Spatial. It includes art, architecture and other areas that require the ability to visualize. Lazear mentions chess as an example
- “Musical Intelligence”
- “Bodily-Kinesthetic Intelligence” This includes dance, gymnastics, sports, and other physical skills.
- “Interpersonal Intelligence” I find the last two categories confusing. I prefer to call this Social Intelligence.
- “Intrapersonal Intelligence” I call this reflective Intelligence. It is about knowing yourself.
VAK and VAKT
Th other commonly used list of learning styles is very simple. VAK means Visual, Auditory, and Kinesthetic learning styles.
VAKT adds tactile (touching). A few people decided that if we were to include tactile senses, we should include all the senses, seeing, hearing, moving, touching, smelling and tasting leading to VAKTOG (olfactory, gustatory). I agree that we absorb information through all our senses. But it should also be clear that we aren’t going to learn literature or history of math by touching, smelling and tasting.
I have one real problem with the VAK system. The V is generally used to describe what you see with your eyes. It does not generally include reading which is strange since most learning, especially in college, comes from reading. So VAK works if you include reading in the Visual category.
My own description of Learning skills is similar in some ways to Gardner’s list.
1. Reading – part of Gardner’s Verbal/Linguistic
2. Listening – not included in Gardner’s list – maybe part oft Verbal/Linguistic.
3. Logic/Math/ – similar to Logical-Mathematical Intelligence
4. Visual/Spatial – in geometry, architecture, pictures and diagrams.
5. Hand On – kinesthetic: experiments, physical skills, creating art or music
I guess you could call it RLLVH. It is certainly not pronounceable. But these are clearly the basic learning styles (or skills) we use to learn in college.
The other side of Learning Skills are Output Skills
1. The other side of reading is Writing and includes writing papers and test-taking.
2. The other side of listening is speaking including teaching.
3. The other side of Logical/Math is Problem Solving.
4. The other side of Visual/ Spatial is creating diagrams and other visuals.
5. The other side of Hands On learning is Demonstration: Playing sports, Creating art, music, technology, inventing …
Have you noticed anything about these categories?
Yes, these are very similar to the structure of this website. It is, after all, a website about learning skills.
1. The Basic Study Skills section include reading, listening, and computer skills plus writing, speaking, and test-.taking. Not exactly the same but close enough. Verbal skills are also stressed in Verbal Processing Strategies.
2. Hands-on learning is not included because it’s hard to describe ways of improving your ability to learn this way. Most important would be careful listening as you observe an activity and then practicing the skill.
3. Logical/Math and Problem Solving are in Ways of Thinking.
4. Visual/Spatial skills are in Visual Processing Strategies.
4. If we include musical intelligence as part of Hands-on and Demonstration, we have included all of Gardner’s intelligences except the Interpersonal and Intrapersonal.
Instead of Interpersonal, I use the word Social. And the website includes a large section of social skills.
My word for Intrapersonal is Reflection. Much of the section on Personal Skills involve reflection. These include Self Knowledge, and Positive Attitudes. Many thinking skills involve reflective skills. In the area of Verbal Processing strategies, Reflective Writing includes Journaling and Evaluate/Critique.
Identifying and Using Your Learning Styles
The basic learning styles are Reading, Listening, Logic/Math, Visual/Spatial/ and Hands-On
1. .Begin by identifying your strengths and weaknesses.
2. If you have a learning disability in one or several of these areas, you need to compensate for your weakness. My son, Tony, who is dyslexic could not learn by reading. He compensated by never missing a class and listening very carefully. In th U.S., Dyslexic students also can get recorded textbooks from the Library for the Blind and Dyslexic. They can also get help from most colleges who might provide a note-taker, a reader and allow oral tests. They can also get help from a tutor.
All students can use their stronger skills to compensate for weaker skills.
3. You should also consider ways to improve your weaker skills. Most students can improve all of these skills. Use this website. Read a book on study skills. Get a tutor.
4. For each class that you take, analyze the learning skills that are necessary. The skills you use in a history class, a math class, a chemistry class, an art class and a music class are all very different. If you are weak in any of the more important skills, you must compensate or improve the weak skills.
5. You should never try to depend on only one or two skills. The more learning styles or skills you use, the more you will learn and the longer you will remember it.
If you want to learn more about The Theory of Multiple Intelligences