Learning is the process of acquiring knowledge, information, skills, experiences and desirable attitudes and values. Learning involves the process of growth and development as an individual or through experience. Learning styles refer to the way the mind receives and processes information. It also determines the best strategies that work for an individual’s learning experience. There has to be an excellent teaching to achieve the best performance. There are different ways in which students learn. These may be by seeing, hearing or through experiencing things first hand. Each student has a learning method that stands out. The mode of study used by the teacher to the student also affects the rate at which the student will understand and be able to internalise the materials taught. It is essential for one to know his/her learning styles. Once one knows his learning styles, it assists the instructor and the student.
Learning is never complete until an individual receives satisfaction or a reward for the efforts put in the process. A goal is always set in the learning process. One gets satisfied on realising the goal. Everyone is different from another in characters, personality, behaviour and styles of learning. With this, not everyone can use one teaching method. Students whose learning styles are compatible to the teaching styles of the instructor more often retain information longer. They apply information more effectively as compared to students who have a mismatch in the learning and teaching styles (Felder, 1993). Some students remember best materials they have seen; others remember best what they have heard, while others remember best what they have experienced.
Let us look at a student who learns best through seeing. He is also called a visual learner. A visual learner is good at spellings, needs a quiet environment for personal studies, likes colours and fashion, and is skilled at sign language. He also takes time to think to be able to understand text content. To achieve exceptional results while studying, the learning style used has to be effective. The best approach could be using maps to represent events and processes. The instructor should make outlines for everything for the student understand the concepts well, the student should copy what is on the board and takes notes, and in cases where there is no clear understanding of the concepts taught, and the student can use diagrams to understand better. The student should also take notes, watch videos and use outline reading.
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A student learns best through hearing is an auditory learner. This student is fine at explaining, remembers names of people and places easily, reads texts slowly, enjoys music, cannot keep quiet for a long time, follows spoken directions well, notices sound effects in music and is not afraid of speaking in class. An auditory learner is also excellent in grammar and foreign languages. In the case of such a student, the modes of study used should be taping notes after writing them in order to listen later ad understand better. The student can also watch videos of notes; repeat facts without looking at the written content, record lectures, and participate in group discussions.
The last student is the kinesthetic learner. This student understands things faster through experiencing or doing things. A kinesthetic learner is excellent in sports, is not able to sit still for a long time and does not do well in spellings. He also has a poor handwriting and studies with loud music. During lectures, this learner is always fidgety and likes taking a break while studying. Further to that, he likes getting involved in material arts, and dance. He also likes adventurous books and movies. He likes the science lab. To perform well in class, such a student needs to study in short blocks. He should take all lab classes, be active in arts clubs, and be role playing in various departments and activities. He should also study with others and use memory games to memorise lessons. Taking field trips and visiting museums is also a good learning method for such a student. The best-performed exams for this student are those in multiple choices; fill-ins and short definition questions.
In summary, the performance of a student relies on the learning style used on the student. At times, the student may not prefer the best learning style suited for him/her. In such cases, the student will use the learning style that is to their advantage at that time. Though not mentioned, class attendance in all cases affects the students. We need to understand how people learn and more so, we need to know the best way students learn and how we can learn best. The current modern education system affects the difference in performance of students. All students learn in one class with an assumption of everyone has the same learning style. As a teacher, knowing the type of student one has in class, can mean a lot difference between success and failure of the student.
This involves implementing the best learning style on each student. It also helps the student in understand him or herself and be able to relate well to the students needs. Knowing the best learning style to use on a student also assists in counselling the student. The teacher is thus able to come up with instructional methods, which he will use to assist the student study to produce the best results desired. We should not limit ourselves on these issues only. The effect of learning styles on the academic achievements need to further evaluated. Once we reach a measurable evaluation, the reliability on the effect of learning styles on academic performance would be more accurate.