Learning is not a one-size fits all proposition, which can make classrooms challenging places for both students and teachers. There are various learning styles, such as auditory (oral) learning, visual learning and kinesthetic (spatial) learning. People generally use a blend of styles in learning, although they tend to gravitate toward the one that is most comfortable for them.
Traits of the Visual Learner
Visual learners understand and retain information better when the ideas, words and concepts are associated with images. Approximately 65 per cent of the population learns visually and are lucky that it is the predominant teaching style found in classrooms. They generally retain about 75 per cent of what they see, with analytic visual learners processing words before pictures and global visual learners will turn to graphics before words.
As a visual learner, you may:
- Love pictures and diagrams
- Doodle as you take notes
- Prefer to see words written down
- Create strong visual images in your mind when you read
- Attracted to spoken language that is rich in imagery
- Need to close your eyes to visualize something
- May need thought to process speeches or lectures
- Excel at reading maps or charts
- Have a good sense of direction because you can visualize maps and charts
- Like to read
- Is good at spelling
- Remembers faces better than names
- Is easily distracted by noise
- Look for something to watch when you get bored
- Notice details
- Like colour and fashion
- Enjoy visual art activities
- Have difficulty following verbal directions
Benefits of Visual Learning
Visual learning strategies, whether innate or acquired, can benefit you in a number of ways:
- Organizing and analyzing: Using diagrams, you can display large quantities of information in a way is understandable and reveals patterns and relationships.
- Integrating knowledge: Research has shown that you remember information when it is learned both verbally and visually.
- Critical thinking: By linking verbal and visual information, you can understand relationships, make connections and recall relevant details.
Learning Strategies for Visual Learners
Visual learners generally retain about 75 per cent of information presented to them visually and they learn best alone. Visual learners need visual cues in front of them in order to solidify ideas and concepts in your minds. Today’s classrooms often are ideal for visual learners, because there are numerous visual aids: whiteboards, handouts, online learning videos, etc.
By employing strategies tailored to your visual learning style, you’ll learn more effectively. Here are some approaches that should serve your needs:
- Keep your eyes on the lecturer; it will help you focus. In addition, the lecturer’s facial expressions and body language will provide you with more information.
- Sit away from windows and near the front of the room to minimize distractions.
- Ask the lecturer to repeat information or explain if you don’t understand.
- Try to visualize the lecture material as you hear it.
- When studying, choose a quiet place. If you need to be at the library, wear earplugs or earmuffs.
- Take lots of notes and record many details as you study. Then, cover the notes and try to rewrite them to see what you remember.
- Use highlighters. Circle key words or underline them.
- Create flashcards for yourself and review them often. They can be especially effective in combination with graphs or charts, forcing you to name parts of the diagram or explain the function.
- Draw diagrams, charts, pictures or timelines for yourself or ask the teacher to create them for you.
- Seek out charts, maps, posters and software that will help you learn material visually.
- Replace words with symbols or initials. Associating a symbol with a concept may make it easier to remember.
- Colour code your notes. If you consistently highlight certain types of information with markets of certain colours, it will help you to visually organize the information in your mind.
- Watch videos that relate to the subject you’re studying. Today, there is an explosion of educational videos available online.
For visual learners to learn a task, rather than abstract or factual information, they prefer to see a demonstration, rather than simply jumping in or following written instructions. They learn by watching. For example, to learn how to dance a waltz, it would be helpful for them to see another couple execute the dance steps before taking on the challenge themselves.
Your learning style may change as you progress through life, and many people discover that a mix of styles works best for them. Understanding the learning style that works best for you will allow you to play to your strengths and achieve success.