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Learning Styles

In this video

As the preceptor, it is important to understand your students’ different learning styles. It is also essential to understand your own learning style since this will be key to your effectiveness as a preceptor.

Kinesthetic Learner

The kinesthetic learner uses their body and sense of touch to learn about the world around them. They like sports and exercise, and other physical activities. They like to think through issues, ideas, and problems while they’re in motion. They would rather go for a run or walk if something is bothering them, rather than sitting and thinking about it.

They like to get their hands dirty, typically make large hand gestures, and use other body language to communicate.

When they are learning a new skill or subject, they prefer to jump in and engage the material in a physical, tactile way. They prefer to pull things apart and put them back together, rather than reading about how something works. Writing, drawing, and diagramming can be utilized effectively to reach a kinesthetic learner.

Use physical objects whenever possible to engage the kinesthetic learner who relies on physical interaction to understand function. Flashcards can aid memorization because they can be held and reordered, and role-playing can be employed to practice skills and refine behaviors.

Although kinesthetic learners can absorb information through lectures or discussions, these aren’t their preferred methods of instruction.

They respond to or use statements such as:

  • That feels right to me.
  • Stay in touch.
  • I have good feelings about this.
  • My gut is telling me…

Visual Learner

Visual learners prefer using images, pictures, colors, and maps to organize information and communicate with others. They can easily visualize objects, plans, and outcomes in their mind’s eye. They have good spatial awareness and a strong sense of direction that allows them to easily orient themselves using a map.

Instead of text, visual learners prefer drawing pictures (often using multiple colors) as a modified storytelling technique to more easily visual content and internalize concepts.

Diagrams, charts, and maps can help these learners visualize the links between parts of a system, such as a major body system. Replacing words with pictures and using color to highlight major and minor links are methods that can be used to engage the visual learner.

They respond to or use statements such as:

  • Let’s look at it differently.
  • See how this works for you.
  • I can’t quite picture it.
  • Let’s draw a diagram or map.

Auditory/Logical Learner

Auditory/Logical learners prefer logical and mathematical reasoning, and respond to verbalized descriptions. They can recognize patterns easily, as well as connections between seemingly meaningless content. This also leads them to classify and group information so they can learn and understand it.

They typically work through problems and issues in a systematic way, and like to create procedures for future use. They are happy setting numerical targets and track their progress towards these. They like creating agendas, itineraries, and to-do lists, and typically number and rank them before putting them into action.

Their scientific approach to thinking means they often support their points with logical examples or statistics. They pick up flaws of logic in other’s words, writing, or actions, and may even point these out.

They like using mnemonics when learning new skills, often talk themselves through the steps of a task, and are aware of their voice during this process.

They respond to or use statements such as:

  • Follow the process, procedure, or rules.
  • There’s no pattern to this.
  • Let’s make a list.
  • We can work it out.
  • That seems logical.

Social Environment

Learners with a strong social style are able to communicate well with others, both verbally and non-verbally. People seek out and accept their advice, and these learners listen well and understand the views of others.

They typically prefer learning in groups or classes, and like to spend significant one-on-one time with their teachers and instructors. Their learning is heightened by bouncing thoughts off other people and listening to how they respond. They prefer to work through issues, ideas, and problems with a team, and enjoy functioning within a synergistic group setting.

They like to stay after class and talk with others and prefer social activities to being alone. Providing social learners the opportunity to work with others whenever possible is beneficial to their learning process. Practicing behaviors or procedures in a group setting helps them understand how to adapt to variations, and seeing other’s mistakes helps them avoid those same errors.

They respond to or use statements such as:

  • Let’s work together on this.
  • We can work it out.
  • Tell me what you are thinking.
  • Help me understand this.
  • Let’s pull some people together to discuss.
  • Let’s explore our options.

Solitary Environment

Other learners are more solitary, private, introspective, and independent. They are very aware of their own thought process, and excel at concentrating their insights and feelings on the topic at hand.

Solitary learners self-analyze and reflect on how they approached and reacted to past events. They may take time to ponder and assess their accomplishments and challenges. They often keep a journal, diary, or personal log to record personal thoughts and events.

They like to spend time alone and prefer traveling or taking holiday in remote places, away from crowds.

They prefer to work on problems by retreating to somewhere quiet and working through possible solutions. They may sometimes spend too much time trying to solve a problem that could be more easily solved by talking to someone. They like to make plans and set goals.

They respond to or use statements such as:

  • I’d like some time to think it over.
  • This is what I think or feel about that.
  • I’d like to get away from everyone for a while.
  • I’ll get back to you on that.