Monthly Archives: January 2013

WAC Tip # 7: What adaptations can I make to students’ learning styles?

Quoted/Adapted from Ryan, Leigh, and Lisa Zimmerelli. The Bedford Guide for Writing Tutors. Boston: Bedford/St. Martins, 2010. Print.

The most basic “categories” of learning styles include visual, auditory, and kinesthetic. Many college students are self-aware enough to know which category they fall in. Others can easily answer the question of if they learn best by seeing, hearing, or doing. If you don’t know what the student’s preferred learning style is, you can try some of these methods and adjust if you find there to be a block in their understanding.

Here are some strategies to use when interacting with a student in a one-on-one basis or even in a classroom setting:

Visual Learners

  1. Work from written material, pointing to, circling, highlighting, or otherwise indicating information as you discuss it.
  2. Make writing things down a part of the conference by taking notes, jotting down examples, or drawing diagrams. Writers will be able to take these notes with them as visual reminders of what you discussed.
  3. Use color when possible – various colored pens when working with paper or various colored highlighting or fonts when working on the computer.

Auditory Learners

  1. Read instructions, notes, or other materials aloud or have the writers do this reading.
  2. Repeat or rephrase direction and explanation, especially ones that may be more complicated.
  3. Verbally reinforce points made in notes, diagrams, or other visual aids.
  4. Throughout the session, ask the writer to paraphrase what you have discussed; at the end of the session, ask the writer to summarize what was accomplished and outline his/her plan for the paper.
  5. If working online asynchronously, consider using software to embed an audio file to supplement your written advice.

Kinesthetic Learners

  1. As you read through papers or discuss ideas, ask students to do the writing, underlining, highlighting, or diagramming.
  2. Have students point to material as you talk about it.
  3. Write sentences or sections of a paper on self-stick removable notes, separate pieces of paper, or file cards. Ask students to rearrange the passages in order to find the most effective organization.
  4. Have self-stick removable notes on hand, and use them to identify parts of the paper, like the thesis, topic sentences, and evidence. Have the student write the concept on the self-stick note and then match it to the appropriate part of the paper.