September 21, 2020

Learning Style Differences

A recent posting of Science Daily, Physical Activity May Strengthen Children’s Ability to Pay Attention, reported the following:

A professor of kinesiology and community health and the director of the Neurocognitive Kinesiology Laboratory at Illinois, Charles Hillman’s research suggests that physical activity may increase students’ cognitive control – or ability to pay attention – and also result in better performance on academic achievement tests.

“The goal of the study was to see if a single acute bout of moderate exercise – walking – was beneficial for cognitive function in a period of time afterward,” Hillman said. “This question has been asked before by our lab and others, in young adults and older adults, but it’s never been asked in children. That’s why it’s an important question.”

For each of three testing criteria, researchers noted a positive outcome linking physical activity, attention and academic achievement. Following the acute bout of walking, children had a higher rate of accuracy, especially when the task was more difficult. Along with that behavioral effect, they also found that there were changes in children’s event-related brain potentials (ERPs) – in these neuroelectric signals that are a covert measure of attentional resource allocation.”

“What we found in this particular study is, following acute bouts of walking, children are better able to allocate attentional resources, and this effect is greater in the more difficult conditions, suggesting that when the environment is more noisy – visual noise in this case – kids are better able to gate out that noise and selectively attend to the correct stimulus and act upon it.”

Co-author Darla Castelli believes these early findings could be used to inform useful curricular changes. She recommends that schools make outside playground facilities accessible before and after school. “If this is not feasible because of safety issues, then a school-wide assembly containing a brief bout of physical activity is a possible way to begin each day,” she said. “Some schools are using the Intranet or internal TV channels to broadcast physical activity sessions that can be completed in each classroom.

Additional recommendations:

-scheduling outdoor recess as a part of each school day;

-offering formal physical education 150 minutes per week at the elementary level, 225 minutes at the secondary level;

-encouraging classroom teachers to integrate physical activity into learning.

In Homework and Kids, the following is listed as difficulties for the Kinesthetic Learner:

-Sitting still for long periods of times especially if asked to learn

-Recalling what is seen or heard
-Expressing self without movement or gestures
-Staying with an activity for long periods of time without breaks

These learners would sure be supported by teachers who increase movement in the classrooms, like those spotlighted in the April 5th Chicago Tribune, Keeping Students on the Move.

The March 28, 2009 Science Daily featured a study conducted at the University of Pennsylvania (Visual Learners Convert Words to Pictures in the Brain and Vice Versa).

Functional magnetic resonance imaging technology to scan the brain revealed that people who consider themselves visual learners, as opposed to verbal learners, have a tendency to convert linguistically presented information into a visual mental representation.

The more strongly an individual identified with the visual cognitive style, the more that individual activated the visual cortex when reading words.

The opposite also appears to be true from the study’s results.

Those participants who considered themselves verbal learners were found under fMRI to have brain activity in a region associated with phonological cognition when faced with a picture, suggesting they have a tendency to convert pictorial information into linguistic representations.

As a high auditory (verbal) learner I’ve always been amazed when visual learners share the “movie” they saw while reading a book. I tend to hear the characters interact or hear the storyteller or lecturer while reading.

I am continually convinced that by high school all students should have an indication regarding their own learning preferences so that they are empowered to put studying time to best use by tapping into their preferred styles…increasing the payoff they get from effort invested. See PLS’s Kaleidoscope Profile as one way to inform students and their teachers about these preferences. If you’d like to try the online profile for free with up to ten students or for yourself, contact Penny Jadwin at [email protected]. Penny will also be happy to review results with you. Discipline and Learning Styles provides a great comparison of how teachers and students can be frustrated by conflicting style preferences.

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