3 Teaching Strategies to Support Students With Varying Learning Styles

Posted by Ray McNulty on 3/1/16 10:00 AM

College studentsIn life no two people are the same: they support different teams in sports, like different foods, and even identical twins have differences. So when it comes to learning, “one-size-fits-all” doesn’t work! According to Neil Fleming's Visual-Auditory-Kinesthetic model,1 most people have a dominant learning style that falls into one of three categories:

Visual learners. These people learn through seeing. They need to create vivid mental images to learn content and learn best through problem-solving, puzzles, maps, charts and videos.

Auditory learners. These students learn through listening. They learn best through discussions and lectures.

Kinesthetic learners. They learn through moving, touching and doing. They retain information best by interacting with the space around them.

To appropriately serve the needs of all students, teaching must include different approaches to the learning. By doing so, your career college will help students retain more information, enhance their critical thinking skills and keep them en route to graduation.

Increase Experiential Learning Opportunities

Classroom learning has traditionally catered to the visual and auditory learners. Consider providing more experiential learning opportunities, especially to students who have disengaged under the more passive teaching methods.

Career colleges have long been at the forefront of providing experiential learning opportunities for their students that align with their degree offerings. For instance, many schools offering dental hygienist programs have created mock dental office classrooms, where students learn how it feels to be immersed in the environment they will ultimately be working in. In addition to creating this simulated classroom environment, it’s vital for career colleges to provide students with options for real life experience by partnering with community employers to create externship and work-study opportunities to further support their students.

Although experiential learning provides kinesthetic learners the hands-on interaction they crave, this tactic also includes elements that benefit visual and auditory learners. In addition, increasing experiential learning opportunities works well for students who have a mix of the three styles, as many people do.

Offer Blended Learning Programs

Offering alternative delivery models such as blended learning is a great way to support students with various learning styles. Blended learning opportunities take advantage of both face-to-face and online formats, and so students who lean toward an auditory learning style benefit from in-class lectures and discussions, and those who are more visual learners will appreciate vibrant and dynamic online content.

Additionally, kinesthetic learners may be learning the ropes of their desired trade by working while attending classes. A blended learning environment offers a supportive environment that enables students to learn at their own pace.

Create a Collaborative Environment

According to TeachThought.com,2 collaborative learning teams attain higher levels of thinking and retain information for longer periods of time than students working individually. Implementing collaborative learning techniques in the classroom benefits all types of learners, as collaborative learning:

  • Incorporates aspects of speaking and presenting, which appeals to auditory learners
  • Involves learning by doing, which appeals to kinesthetic learners
  • Includes elements of problem-solving, which appeals to visual learners

Implement this tactic in your career college classroom with strategies that require both online and offline collaboration. To get started, we suggest the following:

  • Begin by assigning small groups of students to work as a team and have them identify shared goals. This keeps the group on task and establishes and encourages individual accountability.
  • Require that each team member be responsible for owning of a portion of the assignment. Students should determine in class which sections they will be responsible for.
  • Ask students to collaborate outside of the classroom — either online or face-to-face — to discuss what they learned from their assigned section.

Implement these tactics at your career college and reap the benefits of more engaged, higher-performing students.

Resources: Photo credit. (1) The VARK Modalities (2) Collaborative Learning Tips And Strategies for Teachers

Topics: High School Completion, College Enrollment & Retention, Public & Private High Schools, Colleges & Career Schools

 

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