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Part of Western Governors University

July 7, 2020

Teaching & Education

Visual learning style and strategies for teachers.

Student reading a book | visual learning style

When it comes to learning, everyone is different. We all have unique things that make our brains work and make learning easier for us. These are called learning styles and generally there are three or four that are generally accepted as the most well-known. 

Learning styles focus on how a student is best able to learn or their preferred method of acquiring knowledge. This is usually influenced by their unique brain and experiences, and has a direct impact on the way they get information. There isn’t a best learning style—all of these learning styles are important and as a student, it’s smart to work on strengthening all of them.

The main styles of learning are visual, auditory, and kinesthetic or tactile. Auditory and kinesthetic learners have different strengths and preferences than a learner who prefers to learn visually. Additionally sometimes learners can have a reading/writing style of learning. While similar to the visual learning style, this is a bit more focused on actual words than images. All of these learning styles surround us every day, but often students gravitate toward a style of learning that is most effective for them. But it’s a good idea to work to strengthen the other learning styles to help you be a better learner all around.

For teachers, it’s extremely important to understand learning styles and how they impact the students in your classroom. Each student will have their own preferred learning style, and teachers can help create activities that cater to different learning styles to help more students learn effectively. Learn more about the visual learning style and how you can implement it in your classroom.

What is the visual learning style?

The visual learning style is fairly self-explanatory. It’s all about seeing things in order to learn them. This can take many forms, from spatial awareness, colors and tones, brightness and contrast, and other visual information. Visual learning examples include watching a video or in-person demonstration of cooking a meal, following a diagram to build furniture, looking at a graph to understand statistics, writing instructions on a white board for people to follow, and more. Visual learning focuses on what we can see, so anything that is looked at or watched is part of visual learning.

Learners who gravitate toward visual learning appreciate seeing things in order to help them learn, rather than hearing or experiencing them. Understanding learners who prefer to be taught visually is important for teachers who want to create lesson plans that help all their students.

Visual learning style cues.

It’s important for educators to be able to identify visual learners in their classroom. Teachers can look and listen for cues that show their student may be a more visual learner. Some of these visual cues include:

  • Saying “I can’t picture this”

  • Saying “I never forget a face”

  • Saying “I want to draw that out”

  • Doodling while taking notes or listening to lectures

  • Understanding a concept better after seeing a picture

  • Loving watching the teacher demonstrate solving a problem

  • Saying “Can you show me?”

  • Having a positive reaction to assignments involving coloring, reading, or writing

  • Wanting to see a graph to understand a statistic or number

As an educator, it’s extremely important to watch out for these kinds of visual students. When you have an idea of each of your students’ learning styles, it’s easier to help them when they don’t seem to be grasping a concept. And teachers who know that a student needs a visual element to learn are able to provide better lesson plans for those kinds of students.

Math teacher writing equation on the board

Strengths of visual learners.

Visual learners have many strengths that help them in the classroom. Teachers can utilize these strengths to help students be even more efficient in the learning process. Some of these strengths include:

  • Ability to visualize objects

  • A good sense of balance and alignment

  • Usually very organized

  • Very color-oriented 

  • Can picture words from a book or pictures in their mind

  • Can identify simple similarities and differences in things

  • Utilizes imagery to help them learn

  • Can use visual aids to explain themselves

Teachers can harness these strengths in ways to help their visual students learn more easily. Understanding the strengths a visual learner have will help teachers be able to connect with them and present visual material to them in a way that is helpful for them. 

Visual learning strategies for teachers.

Teachers can work to implement many visual learning strategies in their classrooms to help visual learners thrive. It’s vital for teachers to work to implement these kind of visual techniques into their classroom so students have many opportunities for learning. Some of these strategies include:

  • Using visual aids like images, diagrams, videos, etc.

  • Grouping visual learners together during group projects so they can harness their strengths

  • Allowing reflection time after lessons so visual learners can visualize their work

  • Encourage visual learners to color code their notes (science teachers may see benefits from this)

  • Incorporating color into presentations and assignments

  • Giving written instructions for assignments (this can be particularly beneficial for math teachers

  • Write to-do lists and agendas on the white board so students who prefer visual styles can actually see the plan

  • Give time for reading in-class so visual learners have the opportunity to learn better

  • Show students how to make vocabulary flashcards

  • Provide written feedback on assignments (a great option for English teachers)

If you’re currently studying to become a teacher, it’s important to take your techniques and tactics and think about how they will directly impact students. Being aware of learning styles can help teachers more effectively work with students and encourage them to thrive in school.

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