Learning Styles

Auditory (Listeners)

  • Conversations and discussions
  • Songs
  • Talking it through
  • Lecture
  • Audiobooks

If you are an Auditory Learner, you depend on listening, hearing, and speaking as a main way of learning. You understand and remember things you have heard. You store
information by the way it sounds, and you have an easier time understanding spoken instructions than written ones. You often learn by reading out loud because you have to
hear it or speak it in order to know it.

Experiential/Tactile (Movers/Doers)

• Activity centers
• Hands-on
• Experiments
• Real life, real time work
• Toys, games, manipulatives
• Sign language

If you are a Tactile Learner, you learn by touching and doing. You understand and remember things through physical movement. You are a “hands-on” learner who prefers to touch, move, build, or draw what you learn, and you tend to learn better when some type of physical activity is involved. You need to be active and take frequent breaks, you often speak with your hands and with gestures, and you may have difficulty sitting still.

Interactive (Talkers)

• Conversations and discussions (especially with other students who speak the same language)
• Debate
• Storytelling
• Small group discussions
• Re-stating and role-playing

If you are an Interactive Learner, you learn by communicating with others. You understand and remember what you can talk about and explain. You prefer to discuss ideas, thoughts, and opinions and you want to participate in all classroom conversations. You want to be actively involved in your learning and may often get in trouble in class
for talking to others.

Observational (Lookers)

• Demonstrations
• Taking turns (but going second)
• Role-playing
• Facial expressions and body language
• Practice
• Videos

If you are an Observational Learner, you learn by observing the behavior of others. You understand and remember by watching. You prefer social learning and social models (e.g. a parent, sibling, friend, or teacher). It is not copying or mimicking. It is seeing what a process looks like in advance. You are not at your best when you have to perform some task without having seen it done by someone else first.

Visual (Seers)

• Books (word and picture)
• Images
• Drawing and doodling
• Writing
• Word search
• What’s different about this picture?

If you are a Visual Learner, you learn by reading or seeing pictures. You understand and remember things by sight. You can picture what you are learning in your head, and you learn best by using methods that are primarily visual. You like to see what you are learning. You may have difficulty with spoken directions and may be easily distracted by sounds.

Reflective (Processors)

• Time to think
• Review previous day
• Projects and studies
• Journaling
• Sharing with others

If you are a Reflective Learner, you learn by thinking things through and understand things before acting. You understand and remember things you have thought about. You like to relate what you have read, done, or learned to your own life and making meaning out of the material. It’s more than just memorizing some facts, formulas, or
dates that seem unconnected to your own life and what you already know.


An Interactive Learner and a Reflective Learner have just finished watching a movie. The Interactive Learner wants to go get coffee and talk about the movie right afterwards. The Reflective Learner wants to think about the movie and talk about it over coffee tomorrow.

An Experiential Learner and an Observational Learner are at a club watching people do the latest dance. The Experiential Learner goes to the middle of the dance floor learning and practicing the dance on the spot in front of everyone. The Observational Learner studies what everyone is doing, getting lots of examples, and then goes home and practices in front of a mirror with the door closed.

A Visual Learner mother wants her Auditory Learner daughter to complete several chores during the day and she’s in a hurry to leave. Mother: Get a piece of paper and write this down. Daughter: Just tell me. Mother: No, I want you to remember. Daughter: I will! Just tell me!

Learning Styles and Learning Preferences of Children of African Descent

Tactile/Kinesthetic – learn through moving, doing, engaging, and touching

Visual – learn through seeing, observing, “reading” body language, facial expressions

Verbal – expressive language, playing with language, discussion, metaphor, hyperbole

Collaboration – working collectively, small group work

Relationship-based – knowing you/your family, caring about you, seeing you in other contexts

Realism – no rhetorical questions, no questions you know the answer to, no pretend questions

Mental Challenge – critical analysis, critique, authentic “why” questions

Physical Challenge – use your body, dance, sports, drama, sign language

Creative Expression – singing, dancing, rapping, instruments, drawing, sculpture, drama, writing

Spirituality – a sense of a higher power, being connected to nature, to something bigger than oneself

Changing the Teaching & Learning Environment

~ Sharing– Changing the Teaching & Learning Environment
What is the teaching and learning environment?

~ Sharing Goals & Expectations
Effective teachers of Black children consult with parents and incorporate parental expectations into their teaching
at the beginning of each school year. Effective parents of Black children consult regularly with their children about children’s expectations into their parenting.

~ Sharing Power & Control
Sharing power with children means stepping back and giving them the time and the space to do the things we want
them to do, to not be afraid of just observing or just listening.

~ Sharing Discourse & Ideas
The ability to challenge children intellectually is a critical ingredient that differentiates the ordinary learning
environment from the extraordinary one. Challenging Black children intellectually is cultivating their genius.

~ Sharing the Space
Any room children are in is their work space. It is where they do the most important tasks of their work day. Make at least one learning environment a living and learning environment – based on what children want.

~ Sharing the Daily Routine
The daily routine is what guides activity, action, and interaction throughout the day. It determines what children will
do, where they will do it, how they will do it, with whom, and for how long.

~ Sharing Behavior Management
Children rarely misbehave or cause disruptions if they are engaged, interested, and understand expectations.

~ The Big Picture ~ Guiding vs. Controlling ~ Teaching vs. Parenting ~ Disciplining vs. Punishing

  • Which “share” is your easiest one? Why? How can you build on that success?
  • Which “share” is your biggest challenge? Why? What will you do about that?


Cultural Capital and the Black Community

Aspirational capital- ability to maintain hopes and dreams for the future, even in the face of real and perceived barriers

Linguistic capital- includes the intellectual and social skills attained through communication experiences in more than one language and/or style

Familial capital- carry a sense of community history, memory and cultural intuition

Social capital- peer and other social contacts can provide both instrumental and emotional support to navigate through society’s institution

Navigational capital- infers the ability to maneuver through institutions not created with Communities of Color in mind.

Resistant capital- knowledge and skills fostered through oppositional behavior that challenges inequality.

Spiritual capital- understood as a set of resources and skills rooted in a spiritual
connection to a reality greater than oneself.