Learning styles are good to get a handle on

August 23, 2012|Lisa Prejean

As part of a new class I am teaching, the students need to complete a learning-style inventory. They are asked to answer a series of questions that will help them determine how they process information.

  • Do they learn better alone or in a group?
  • Do they learn through what they see, what they hear or what they experience?
  • Do they learn by reading, performing a task or a combination of both?

Questions range from:

 In a class, I usually

a. Make friends with just a few students.

b. Get to know many of my classmates.


If I were an author, I would most likely write:

a. Biographies or how-to books

b. Novels or poetry

Based on their answers to 35 questions, students can determine if they are:

 Independent (those who prefer to study alone) or social (those who see a task as an opportunity for social interaction)

 Pragmatic (those who are practical and systematic) or creative (those who prefer to learn through discovery or experiment)

 Verbal (those who rely on language to acquire information) or spatial (those who prefer studying photographs, diagrams and film)

 Rational (those who are objective and impersonal) or emotional (those who are subjective, focusing on feelings and values)

 Concrete (those who pay attention to what is observable) or abstract (those who focus on the big picture)

As the school year begins, it is important for us to remember as parents, teachers and coaches that not everyone learns alike. By presenting information in a variety of ways, we can be sure that the message gets across.

We also need to encourage students to ask questions when they don't understand a concept. Many teachers can determine students' needs simply from the questions the students ask, or from the answers students provide on a learning-style inventory.

The thinking is that if a student knows how he or she learns, that method can be selected to facilitate learning.

As teachers, that is exactly what we should want to happen.

This information and additional questions concerning learning styles can be found in Kathleen T. McWhorter's textbook, "Successful College Writing."

Lisa Tedrick Prejean writes a weekly column for The Herald-Mail's Family page. Send email to

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