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Tutor Training

Module 6
Learning Styles

Learning style is the way individuals concentrate on, absorb, and retain new or difficult information or skills. It is not the materials, or strategies that people use to learn: those are the resources that complement each person's style. Style comprises a combination of environmental, emotional, sociological, physical, and psychological elements that permit individuals to receive, store and use knowledge or abilities.
Exceptional Children, Vol. 49, No. 6, April 1983

Every student has a unique learning style. According to Jody Whelden, a psychotherapist, counselor and teacher, "Each learning style is like an instrument in an orchestra. Students need to know what instrument is theirs and how they fit into the orchestra."

Researchers have done experiments with at least 21 elements of learning style. They have found that most people respond strongly to between six and fourteen elements. As you can see by the 21 Elements of Learning Style chart on the link above, many variables influence student learning. All students have a preference for factors in their learning environment from these strands: environmental; emotional; socialogical; physiological; and psychological. To learn more about perceptual and processing styles, and how to teach students in the way they learn best, click Dunn and Dunn.

Learning style theory suggests that students learn in different ways, based on their auditory, visual, or kinesthetic preferences for input. You may have noticed that when you attempt to learn something new you might prefer to learn by listening to someone talk about the subject. Some students prefer to read about the concept; others want to see a demonstration-; some may need to say it aloud and talk about it. All students should be aware of their unique preferred learning style.

Our style of learning, if accommodated, can result in improved attitudes toward learning and an increase in academic achievement. By identifying your learning style, you will identify how you learn best. Learning styles do not reflect levels of achievement or academic ability. No one style is better than the other.

By becoming familiar with learning style theory, you will be able to recognize your students' style and you will be able to make suggestions on how they can use that strength to help them study. Look at these sites to learn more about learning styles:

There are several personality models of varying usefulness and accuracy. The personality system in the Keirsey Sorter is based on Jung's theory of personality type. It was converted into a practical instrument by Myers and Briggs and is used extensively in education and career counseling. This test attempts to identify a person's personality "type." Personality influences the preferred approaches to acquiring and integrating new information.

Take the personality test

The test measures extroversion versus introversion, sensing versus intuition, thinking versus feeling, and judging versus perception. There are 16 different personality types. What is your type? Look at this site for a more detailed description of your type.

Knowing your learning style preferences and your personality type can help you plan for activities that take advantage of your natural skills and inclinations. It will help you to be aware of your strengths and weaknesses and to capitalize on the strengths and to compensate for the weaknesses. It will also help you become a better tutor.

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