Learning Styles and Brain Behavior: Suggestions for Practitioners

Article excerpt

The research on learning styles explains why, in the same family, certain children perform well in school whereas their siblings do not. It demonstrates the differences in style among members of the same class, culture, community, profession, or socio-economic group, but it also reveals the differences and similarities between groups. It shows how boys styles differ from girls and the differences between youngsters who learn to read easily and poorly.

However, more important than the documentation of how conventional schooling responds to certain youngsters and inhibits the achievement of others, the research on learning styles provides clear directions for either how to teach individuals through their styles or how to teach them to teach themselves by capitalizing on their personal strengths.

Everybody has strengths, although parents strengths tend to differ from each others, from their children, and from their own parents. Thus, mothers and fathers often learn differently from each other and from their children. However, a common parental practice is to insist that children study and do their homework as those adults did when they were young. That is not likely to be effective for at least some of the siblings because, in the same family, members usually learn in diametrically opposite ways.

DISTINCTIONS

The terms analytic/global, left/right, sequential/simultaneous, and inductive deductive have been used interchangeably and tend to parallel each other. Analytics learn more easily when information is presented step by step in a cumulative sequential pattern that builds toward a conceptual understanding.

Globals learn more easily when they either understand the concept first and they can concentrate on the details, or when they are introduced to the information with, preferably, a humorous story replete with examples and graphics. However, what is crucial to understanding brain functioning, is that both types reason, but by different strategies.

Thus, whether youngsters are analytic or global, left or right, sequential or simultaneous, or inductive or deductive processors they are capable of mastering identical in formation or skills if they are taught through instructional methods or resources that complement their styles.

Processing style appears to change; the majority of elementary school children are global. However, the older children get and the longer they remain in school, the more analytic some become.

What is fascinating is that analytic and global youngsters appear to have different environmental and physiological needs. Many analytics tend to prefer learning in a quiet, well-illuminated, formal setting; they often have a strong emotional need to complete the tasks they are working on, and they rarely eat, drink, smoke, chew, or bite on objects while learning. …