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What Are Learning Styles?

Most of us are predominantly visual learners. The term visual learner comes from NLP or Neural Linguistic Programming and the VAK model. The VAK model attempts to describe learning in terms of three dominant styles: visual, auditory and kinesthetic. It offers a way to present stimuli that is tailored to the ways in which an individual prefers to take in information. The jury is still out, however, as to the actual impact of learning styles on learning outcomes.

You, as an individual, intuitively know a preferred method of interacting with information. When you get directions at a gas station, for example, do you feel the instinctive need to write them down? That might be a clue that you are a visual learner.

It is estimated that about 65% to 85% of all individuals are predominantly visual learners; that is most of us. Since most of us are visual learners, it makes sense to use visual images to support our learning endeavors. The challenge is to use visual images designed with a specific intention in mind, and  that intention is to gain attention and facilitate learning. The goal of most learning endeavors is to get some sort of knowledge or understanding into long-term memory. However, the information must first past through working memory, and working memory is a very busy place with limited capacity. In the late 1950s George Miller published an article stating that working memory is limited to seven chunks of information, plus or minus two. Since then, a great deal of research has been done and is being done on cognitive load. If working memory is on overload, the new information doesn’t have a chance of making it into long-term memory where transfer and recall can take place because the new information will be deleted or dumped from working memory.