Editor's note: Since so many of our readers are also riding instructors or deal with the public, we thought this series from Michigan State University would be useful in helping you better communicate. We also will run their articles on kinesthetic and auditory learners.
We retain 10 percent of what we see, 30-40 percent of what we see and hear and 90 percent of what we see, hear and do. Adults and children all have a great capacity to learn new skills and enjoy learning in a variety of settings; however, we all have a preferred manner in which we are most comfortable learning. There are three primary styles of learning that I will highlight in this article series: auditory, visual and kinesthetic.
If you are teaching a co-worker a new skill, your children at home, running a 4-H meeting, training fellow volunteers or teaching your neighbor to knit, it will benefit you to understand a little about each of these. Understanding the basics of these learning styles can help you personally and professionally. Think about how your children, spouse, co-workers and friends appear to learn and perceive information. When you share information, are you presenting it in a way that makes sense to them?
Visual learners have a keen eye and are taking it all in. Observation and note taking are their strengths; however, those notes may be in pictures, diagrams or words, depending on their preferences. They may position themselves in the room so they can focus and avoid distractions. They benefit from visualization exercises, watching videos, written instructions, maps, diagrams, silent reading and flowcharts. Many enjoy reading and are able to process the words and recall what they have seen.
Providing colored pencils, pens, highlighters, utilizing flashcards and pictures can bring lessons to life for individuals with this learning style. The great news is this can make learning fun and PowerPoints are easy to create with today’s vast array of online images.
As volunteers train youth, they should consider the learning styles of their members. Meetings should take into account all three styles of learning to be most effective. If you are a coach, volunteer or teacher, consider how you plan your next presentation. Do you have a component in your training that will engage the different learning styles? Do you have handouts, diagrams or illustrations? Can a participant or two volunteer to demonstrate the skill or role play a scenario to drive the point home? Weather you train adults or volunteers at your kitchen table, in the barn or in the board room, you should consider the learning styles that impact how people learn.
Michigan State University Extension’s 4-H Youth Development programs utilize the experiential learning model to teach volunteers and members a variety of skills in all project area in communities across this state. We understand that to retain information and really learn, it is best to ensure the content is being applied to real life. Learners need to be able to see the connection between what they are learning at the meeting, in the classroom, textbook, lab or lecture and their life every day. When we know why it matters and how we can use the information, we will remember it. As the school year begins, parents can help their children make these important connections as well as bring subjects to life in their homes. Be sure to read the rest of the series to learn more about the other learning styles and to get helpful tips to bring learning to life.
This article was published by Michigan State University Extension. For more information, visit http://www.msue.msu.edu. This article was written by Jennifer Weichel of Michigan State University Extension.