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Helping Visual Learners Retain Information

Fri Apr 25 2014
Any teacher will tell you that their students learn in different ways. While some students may learn best from lectures, others need to participate in hands-on activities in order to fully understand something. Still other students must see a concept demonstrated or explained in pictures in order to comprehend it. Students in this third group are known as "visual learners."

What it Means to Be a Visual Learner
A visual learner is an individual who learns best when he or she is able to view information in the form of visual aids, including demonstrations, videos, diagrams, and pictures presented by the instructor or the textbook. Visual learners remember what they see more often than they remember what they hear. They often have trouble with verbal instructions and are much more likely to be able to complete a task successfully when it is explained using images. These students often prefer art to music, and they would rather read than listen to someone speak.
  • The Visual Learning Style: On this page, you will find a definition of the visual learning style, along with some study strategies for visual learners.
  • Recognizing Visual Learners: This page offers a list of characteristics teachers can look for in order to identify visual learners in the classroom.

Helping Visual Learners Succeed
Visual learners will benefit from any teaching strategy that allows them to "see" the concepts in front of them, as opposed to simply hearing about them. When teaching visual learners, instructors should try to include images, charts, and videos whenever possible. One of the easiest ways to accommodate visual learners without taking away from students with other learning styles is through the use of a whiteboard, which allows you to complement speaking with written notes, drawings, and other visual aids. To ensure that visual learners are adequately informed about important events, such as assignment due dates or exams, consider using a dry erase calendar in addition to verbal instructions.
  • Teaching Math to Visual Learners: In this article, you will find specific strategies designed to help you teach math to visual learners.
  • Connecting with Visual Learners (PDF): This is an informative article published by Purdue University that instructs teachers on how to connect with visual learners and understand education from their perspective.

Applicable Research
Multiple studies have shown that students' learning styles differ considerably. While it may not always be possible to label every student with one specific learning style, all students have preferences when it comes to learning and instruction. Studies have also shown that accommodating these preferences can improve learning outcomes. Since research indicates that more than 60 percent of students are visual learners, incorporating visual teaching methods is essential for every teacher.
  • Benefits of Visual Aids: Suzanne Stokes discusses the empirical benefits of using visual aids in the classroom in this scholarly article from the Electronic Journal for the Integration of Technology in Education.
  • Importance of Visual Literacy: This article discusses potential benefits of visual teaching methods for all students, including those who prefer other teaching methods. This supports the use of these methods by all teachers.

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