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A Survey of Learning Styles and Techniques

Updated: Nov 13, 2020

I'll try to keep updating this list (there are plenty of examples I have missed!). I started with a really helpful list created by Joe Sherrer, a professor at New Orleans seminary, and have been adding to it. If you have additional ideas, please forward them to me so I can keep expanding this article!

Every teacher needs to know that people learn in a variety of ways. We tend to teach either (1) using the method that we learn best with, or (2) using the method we've seen demonstrated the most (which usually depends on our college program).

Here's a simplified list:

  • Logical—Others prefer to learn by seeing patterns and reasoning through difficult situations.

  • Musical—Some people learn better by listening to (or singing) a song that embodies the lesson.

  • Natural—Some people prefer to be outdoors and learn best through elements related to the natural world.

  • Physical—These learners prefer to ‘do’ their lessons. Activities that involve movement or physical contact are ideal for them.

  • Reflective—Some people learn best by themselves. They need to reflect/contemplate/meditate on the lesson over a period of time.

  • Relational—People who prefer to learn through relationships are highly social and may be ‘good talkers.’

  • Visual—Those who prefer to ‘see’ the lesson do very well with pictures, graphics, diagrams, charts, etc. They also like to create their own pictures as their way of modeling the lesson.

  • Verbal—Some people learn best by hearing the lesson and speaking it out loud. They do well with sermons, debates, and dramatic readings.

(Yes, I know that there's new research and terminology coming out all the time, but we have to start somewhere, right?)

That list is helpful, but how do we use it? If a good lesson incorporates multiple styles of learning, how do we do it? Consider these ideas (some ideas work for multiple styles):

Logical Learning

  • Give a lecture

  • Give a quiz/test

  • Supply worksheets and study guides

  • Have a class notebook

  • Make outlines of the passage and lesson

  • Share a word study

  • Give statistics

  • Stage a debate

  • Ask inductive questions

Musical Learning

  • Creative writing - as in music lyrics

  • Play recordings of applicable songs

  • Lead the group in singing

  • Talk about music

  • Find songs that reflect the passage

  • Invite a musician to perform

Natural Learning

  • Display items from nature

  • Lead a nature walk

  • Talk about items from nature

  • Talk about our role in God's world

  • Reflect on creation

  • Do a project involving nature/plants

Physical Learning

  • Have people write their own answers on the board

  • Move around in the room

  • Do a creative activity (drawing, sculpting)

  • Rearrange the room

  • Play games

  • Sing songs with motions

  • Skits

Reflective Learning

  • Offer case studies

  • Offers lots of questions

  • Give discussion questions

  • Ask about attitudes

  • Set aside time for journaling

Relational Learning

  • Break into small groups

  • Give opportunity for personal testimonies

  • Tell stories

  • Conduct interviews

  • Watch a panel discussion

  • Use a dialog format

  • Role playing

Verbal Learning

  • Lots of discussion and lecture

  • Group brainstorming

  • Ask for paraphrases of Scripture

  • Lots of out-loud reading

  • Scripture, song lyrics, literature

  • Read headlines and news stories

  • Read famous/catchy quotes

  • Share links to podcasts/listening guides

  • Write and share a monologue

Visual Learning

  • Share video clips

  • Use posters and charts and maps

  • Display artwork

  • Use object lessons

  • Create collages

  • Use visualization activities

  • Draw diagrams

If you don't have the supplies or materials you need to do some of these things, let me know! We want to resource you as best we can.

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