Episode 82 – How to leverage learning styles with Laura

Show Notes

Connect with Laura

Connect with Laura by visiting her Instagram Page here

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Dan: (00:00)
Well, hi everyone. And welcome again to the effective teaching podcast. I’m your host, Dan Jackson. And today I have my good friend Laura, here to join me. Laura is from educating Laura on Instagram, Instagram. Make sure I actually pronounced that correctly and also has her own podcast, uh, after the bell, which we recently actually recorded me on your podcast. And it’s lovely to have you now joined me from my podcast, Laura.

Laura: (00:24)
Absolutely pleasure. It’s nice to be here.

Dan: (00:28)
Now. One of the things that we always talk about on this podcast is we focus on how we can help students become lifelong learners. And so I thought I’ll get you on here and asked you what strategy do you use in your classroom or what things do you think really helped to create a life lifelong learners in your classroom? How do you help your students along that pathway?

Laura: (00:48)
My biggest thing really is to understand who you are as a learner, I think, and I think the more you can do around encouraging students to know who they are, how they learn, who they learn well with what kinds of things foster learning for them is very empowering. And for me, offering choice, differentiating different tasks, allows students to see that we don’t all learn the same way. So for some students, it would be in English, for example, essay plans and essay writing for other students, it might be a conversation. It might be mind mapping. And I think that the more you can deconstruct that idea that we all learn one way and there’s one way to be effective. It’s actually really liberating to know that if you’re a kinesthetic learner, it’s not that you’re not good at school. It’s that the way in which good learning is projected to you is not real for you because you don’t fit into that classic mold.

Laura: (01:46)
And so for me, especially at the senior levels, I’ll often do some kind of quiz or survey to work out what kind of learner my students are. And then from there, there’s also sub categories within that. So auditory learners can also be sort of musical as well. And then I’ll actually share with my students who’s what in the classroom so that they can see that within this class. And unfortunately, from what I’ve seen, 10, what I tend to find is that you, visual learners tend to be a top echelon of the kids within your room, the auditory kind of oscillate between, and generally it’s those kinesthetic learners that tend to be the ones that struggle the most in class. And sometimes it’s just nice to say that it’s actually not you, it’s the fact that there’s things that are not catered to you. So let’s cater to you.

Laura: (02:36)
If you’re an, if you’re a kinesthetic learner, let’s actually give you a task that focuses on moving your body and physically getting involved with the information rather than copying down notes rather than visually looking at a PowerPoint. And I think that’s really, really empowering because that’s something that you can take forever once you know that it’s not because you can’t learn, but, but that you haven’t been given the opportunity to the way you need to that creates a lifelong learner because you know exactly how you need to deal with information, gather information, synthesize information, and that’s something you can have forever.

Dan: (03:10)
Yeah. I actually talk about them as like learning preferences as well. So because what I find is that students, they can learn in other ways, but it’s not the way they prefer to learn. It’s not by the, they enjoy learning. And so it’s definitely very positive and impactful when we do think, well, how do you actually prefer to learn? How can we then cater to that in this kind of sense state with this approach. Then if you’re going to find out, you know, your preferred learning styles for your students, how does that actually then help them to become lifelong learners?

Laura: (03:41)
The first thing I think is I need to understand what strategies go with, which type of learning style and to model that in class science is a really good way of doing it because especially during revision, I would have, you know, my auditory learners having exam questions that they would have to discuss and pour over and really tease out. I would often have my visual learners to be mind-mapping or highlighting, or color-coding doing something quite visual. And then my kinesthetic learners would be doing puzzles. They’d be potentially, um, running laps and having conversations or doing something physical in which they could engage with that information, even running with a podcast in things like that, I’d ask them to be doing for homework. And once they realized that they could choose any of these ways and they’ve had an opportunity to try different ones, they know that when there’s something that they don’t know that all look up a podcast or, you know what, I’ll find the information and I’ll color code it. So they can then find the information that they need and synthesize it in a way that makes sense to them because they’ve trialed so many different ways and seen it work in class. And I think that’s what we need to be offering students is so many strategies that they can then take with them once they leave the classroom.

Dan: (04:54)
Yeah. I definitely agree with the idea that students need to be learning strategies that best suit them, that are the ways that they like to learn the way that gets them motivated and energetic and excited about their learning too. And I think, yeah, so learning style is definitely one way that you can get into that, um, yeah. For your, for your students. For sure. So the last question that I have for you is can you please provide us just one thing, if this teacher’s going to do something this week to help our students to become lifelong learners, what is one thing that they can do this week in their classroom to help get their students moving forward in that direction?

Laura: (05:29)
I would say survey students find out who they are as learners that we, my biggest thing, I can give you a link. You can just online. It’s about 15 minute quiz. It comes up with, have I learned what kind of strategies they can use? And then from there you can create study groups with them. You can differentiate different revision tasks or different, um, study techniques. I think that would be the easiest thing to do. Survey them, find out who they are, get them to understand who they are and then offer them strategies to develop their learning style with people that learn like them.

Dan: (06:01)
Yeah. And I’ll definitely, I’ll put that link in on my show notes page. And this is for those of you listening, this is episode 82. And so if you would like to get the show notes, you just head over to teacherspd.net/82, and you can find the shadow. So there’ll be a link to the place where we go and find out what learning styles our students prefer. And they’ll also be links there so that you can go and find out more about Laura connect with her on Instagram and go and start listening to her podcast is called after the bell. So Laura, thank you so much for joining me

Laura: (06:32)
Such a pleasure. It was great to chat with you, Dan. Thank you.

Leave a comment


  1. Gregory Dutton

    Thanks Dan. Great advice again, and it was particularly good to revisit the concept of learning preferences. Many moons ago I took an interest in learning preferences, which in the 90’s for me was based around competition, cooperation and individualised modes of learning – obviously different to visual, verbal and kinaesthetic learners. However, it was Still about identifying how students prefer to learn and allowing them opportunities to choose.
    Anyways, I will certainly pursue the links you and Laura have suggested
    Cheers. Greg

  2. Gideon Boulton

    Learning styles. Really? in 2021? How can you leave that unchallenged Dan? No studies carried out over the past 20 have a shred of evidence that supports catering to learning styles.

    1. Daniel Jackson Post author

      Hi Gideon. I was waiting for this comment. While learning styles and the concept that a student has one style in which they can learn has no evidence at all, I think the idea of a learning preference is valid. That is, students have a preferred way to learn which leads to better engagement with the student. You will notice that my language focused on learning preference and that students would benefit from us considering these. But I also have to let other teachers share what they use and the impact that they believe it has on their students. BUT yes, I am aware of the lack of evidence for learning styles and I did wrestle with how to approach it. My conclusion was to allow the episode to stimulate healthy discussion, which it has, and I’m glad you have engaged with it. Hattie and yates actually have a great chapter on learning styles and learning preferences explaining why the misconception and application have come about and what teachers can actually take away from the research around it. Have you read this by any chance?

      1. Gideon Boulton

        The problem with learning styles is that intuitively it makes sense and for that reason it has had so much traction for so long. Learning preferences is one thing, but quite different. If I prefer to have a dollop of marmalade on my toast in the morning instead of raspberry jam, I might “believe” that it is going to give me more energy in the morning, but maybe I would not tell everyone that it does unless I had some evidence that is real rather than purely anecdotal. The appeal of learning preferences can be addressed by looking at its similarity with dual coding which does have evidence that supports it. There is an interesting podcast episode by the learning scientists https://bit.ly/3uMVVlS where they look at a paper written by Cuevas and Dawson (2018) https://bit.ly/2RP5fam which addresses this. From their abstract, “… tested two cognitive models, learning styles and dual coding, which make contradictory predictions about how learners process and retain visual and auditory information.”
        Listening to your podcast there is no doubt that Laura is a gifted and inspiring teacher and you don’t get to be like that without being reflective and well prepared. Given that, I was kind of expecting a healthy discussion on both sides of how learning styles is considered nowadays in education now. Anybody that has heard Hattie banging on about effect sizes recognises that learning styles is his go-to argument for using evidence based strategies instead of belief. But, you know, teaching and the relationships between teachers and students goes beyond evidence based research. Things like being passionate and inspiring cannot be quantified and so don’t even make it to the spreadsheets.

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