Learning Style I: Sensory-based learning


As educationists, most of us have often wondered why coaching and mentoring a group of students in a class can be so complex and sophisticated. The answers lie in the fact that students have different learning styles. And they can be categorised into three primary categories:

  • Sensory-based Learning
  • Personality-Based Learning
  • Aptitude-based Learning

For this entry, I will begin by discussing sensory-based learning, the first of the three learning styles.  Sensory-based learning can be further categorised into:

  • Visual
  • Auditory
  • Kinesthetic 

This is where the Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP) comes in handy. In fact, the teachings of NLP is almost entirely in line with sensory-based learning, in the sense that all individuals (read: students) are dominantly visual, auditory or kinesthetic.  This does not mean that we belong to only one category out of the three.  In fact, all of us have all three sensory functions operating at the same time. It’s just that all of us have a dominant sensory function, which is different. Our students are no different.

Using NLP to engage the students, we need to understand how sensory perception works. What follows are the observations of individuals with the respective dominant sensory functions:

  • Visual:   For students who are dominantly visual, they tend to use words such as “I see”, “Let’s have a look” etc. They speak at a rapid rate and they consume information visually. This means that presentation slides or a video presentation works well for them. These groups of students are also adept at spelling since they visualise the words before and/or when they are writing them down.  Some suitable professions for such students may include media animators, artists, photographer etc.
  • Auditory: For students who are dominantly auditory, they tend to use words such as “I hear that…”, “It sounds like…” etc. They speak at a moderate pace and any lessons seem to suit them, considering that lessons are usually conducted verbally and they tend to listen more. For such students, audio books may be their preferred medium when they study since they are more attuned to hearing.  Suitable careers for such students include musician etc.
  • Kinesthetic: For students who are predominantly kinesthetic, they tend to use words such as “I feel that…”, “I sense that…” etc. They usually speak at quite a slow pace and they usually stay engaged with the lessons if words used during the lesson evoke their emotions. For such students, they learn better when their senses are able to stay engaged.  Suitable career for such students include dancers, sports athletes etc.

As educationists, it can be observed that a high level of complexity exists should we choose to engage all students with varying types of sensory perceptions. In fact, it seems almost impossible. But it can be achieved in the classroom.

So, how do we achieve this?

Success actually hinge on the ability of individual educationist. Through the use of his voice, he or she should strive to engage the students with predominantly auditory function. Through the use of words, he or she should be able to engage students with predominantly kinesthetic function. Through the use of presentation slides, he or she should be able to sustain the interest of students who are visual.  And it should be done concurrently so as to engage the whole class.  This is not easy to achieve but as in all things in life, fluency and competence come only with practice. As long as we are willing to take the first step, we will eventually succeed in engaging the students.

But this is just the beginning.

In my next entry, I will discuss the second type of learning style: Personality-based Learning.


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