Different Learning Styles: What to Know as a Peer Tutor

By Danielle Wirsansky on January 15, 2017

One of the things you learn quickly on as a tutor is that not all students are the same and the ways that they learn can be very different from one another. It can be easy to fall into the trap of preparing your lesson material in only one way and presenting it in that same way to each of your students.

Repetition turns the information into knowledge. By repeating it, your lessons become formulaic and no longer require much prep or forethought. It makes your job easier. However, if the way you are teaching the material is not working for a particular student, you cannot just forge on ahead. You are not a teacher in a school that students are mandated to attend.

If the way you are teaching is not working, the student will just go and find another tutor more willing to work with them in the style that they need — and you will just be out of a job. It is good to be prepared and have options of exercises and examples that you can use when teaching. Read on to learn about three basic but different learning styles that you can prepare for as a peer tutor!

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Kinesthetic Learning

This learning style requires a much more hands-on approach. These kinds of students do not learn best by being lectured to or having a task explained. They need to do it themselves in order to fully understand the process. When they visualize a scenario in their head, they focus on the feelings and sensations they had or would have while doing something. It’s a movement and touch-based learning style.

According to Child 1st Publications, your student might be a kinesthetic learner if they have some of these traits:

1. Kinesthetic learners need to move. They wiggle, tap, swing their legs, bounce, and often just can’t seem to sit still. They learn through their bodies and their sense of touch.

2. They have excellent “physical” memory — they learn quickly and permanently what they DO as they are learning.

3. Kinesthetic learners are often gifted in athletics, dancing, and other physical activities.

4. They are generally very coordinated and have an excellent sense of their body in space and of body timing. They have great hand-eye coordination and quick reactions.

5. They will focus more easily if they have objects to manipulate instead of always using pencil and paper.

6. Their attention follows their hands.

Visual Learning

Visual learners do best when they can look at information in front of them. This can be in one of two ways. They might learn best through written tasks, by reading or writing instructions and exercises. Or they might learn best by looking at tables, charts, videos, and other visual cues to help them gather information. They can remember information they have looked at only briefly and they visualize faces and places when remembering scenarios.

According to Northwest Lincs, your student might be a visual learner if they have some of these traits:

1. Reader/observer

2. Scans everything; wants to see things, enjoys visual stimulation

3. Enjoys maps, pictures, diagrams, and color

4. Needs to see the teacher’s body language/facial expression to fully understand

5. Not pleased with lectures

6. Daydreams; a word, sound or smell causes recall and mental wandering

7. Usually takes detailed notes

8. May think in pictures and learn best from visual displays

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Auditory Learning

These kinds of learners depend on hearing the information and being able to process it in that manner. Reading and writing tasks can be difficult for them. In group study situations, they might volunteer to be the one that asks the questions of the others because the act of saying the questions and answers aloud is most beneficial to them. This kind of learning is not the best for quiet study spaces but you can be flexible and learn techniques that will best help these kinds of learners to study best as their tutor.

According to Revolutionary Paideia, your student might be an auditory learner if they have some of these traits:

1. Auditory learners like to be read to.

2. Auditory learners sit where they can hear.

3. Auditory learners are most likely to read aloud or subvocalize when they read.

4. Auditory learners enjoy music.

5. Auditory learners acquire information primarily through sound.

6. Auditory learners are easily distracted by noises.

7. Auditory learners may not coordinate colors or clothes but can explain what they are wearing and why.

8. Auditory learners enjoy listening activities.

9. Auditory learners enjoy talking.

10. Auditory learners hum, or talk to themselves or others when bored.

Be sure to be cognizant and aware of the different styles your students may learn in so that you can be the most effective tutor possible!

Danielle Wirsansky graduated from FSU with a BA in Theatre and a BA in Creative Writing with a minor in History. She is a second year graduate student in FSU's History department where she serves as the Communications Officer for the History Graduate Student Association and President of White Mouse Theatre Productions. She studied abroad in London, England for the Spring 2015 semester at FSU's study center for the Playwriting Program and interned for the English National Theatre of Israel in Summer of 2015. Her first musical, City of Light, opened as part of FSU's New Horizons Festival in Spring of 2016. She has also won the MRCE and URCAA Research grants from FSU. In the past, she served as the Marketing Director for the FSU Student Theatre Association, the intern for the Holocaust Education Resource Council, and the research assistant of Prof. Nathan Stoltzfus. She has previously written for Context Florida (Contributing Writer), USA Today College (Contributing Writer), Sheroes of History (Contributing Blogger), No(le)Reservations (Contributing Blogger), Female, Reloaded (Arts/Entertainment Editor) , I Want a Buzz Magazine (intern), Mandarin Newsline (youth arts update columnist), Distink Designs (Guest blogger), whatscheaper.com (associate editor), escapewizard.com (associate editor), Spark TLH (Contributor), the Tallahassee Democrat (contributor), Elan Literary Magazine (Head of Marketing), and the Improviser Newspaper (Opinions Editor).

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