How Learning Styles Differ Between Adults and Children

Do you love to learn? How do you learn best? Is it by listening, observing, reading, or physically doing something? If you learn best by observing, you are a visual learner. If you learn best by listening, you are considered an aural learner. Some learn best by using literary skills. Reading and writing is the best way for these literary learners to learn information. Others may find it most effective way to learn through the physical means using their tactical (touch) or kinesthetic (physical) ability. Rather than just finding that one learning style works best, students might find that a combination of these styles might make learning easier. Learning styles are the way we approach learning, solve problems, and use our creativity. Being able to identify which learning style works best for each student, teachers can plan lessons better to meet the needs of the students.

People also have different intellects and learn at various speeds. Each person uses their multiple intelligence with their ability in the following areas: linguistic, logical-mathematical, musical, bodily-kinesthetic, interpersonal, intrapersonal, spatial, and naturalist. When students learn material, the material level needs to be appropriate for the student’s intellectual ability and pace. The student might excel in math, and have the dexterity of an accomplished dancer, but score low on verbal skills. A student’s pace varies based on intellect and learning ability. Advanced students excel at reading material which uses advanced words and concepts, whereas other students might require supplementary materials to work their way through text. The brain also functions impulsively to respond to external and internal factors, and reflectively to mirror what we see and experience. Motor skills and how quickly we react can impact how we learn and respond. External factors such as alcohol and drugs can impact our motor skills effecting how quickly our brain can work. By eating healthy, staying hydrated, and getting enough sleep, a person takes care of their brain keeping it in the best condition to learn.

The brain is divided into two hemispheres, the left and the right side of the brain. Each side functions differently in how we use our logic and creativity. The left side of the brain uses logic, sequencing, helps us think, deals with facts, classifies information, and is verbal and analytical. The right side of the brain brings creativity to the world and is visual, intuitive, non-verbal, and uses the imagination. A person uses both sides of the brain to process information. Children may be more creative when it comes to learning because with less knowledge, they know less constraints. The sky is the limit for possibilities and ideas. Adults, on the other hand, may be more logical because of experiences and knowledge. They are able to analyze and make decisions faster as a result.

Teachers present information to children by scaffolding, or building upon existing knowledge. After determining what a student already knows, they present new material in simple chunks, check for understanding and use repetition to reinforce material. Children are encouraged to interact with one another and as a class asking questions and engage in class discussions. They also learn by applying their knowledge demonstrating their reading and writing skills or by creating something new. They show knowledge of what they have learned by remembering material, showing they understand it by repeating it back, applying it to situations, analyzing information, evaluating, and using what they have learned to create something new. This process is called Blooms Taxonomy. Teachers review material with students before assessing them and then test them to make sure the information has been learned. While students learning styles differ, teachers are equipped with methods to reach a variety of learners.

While adults and children share learning styles, there are differences between the way adults and children learn. Having already spent years learning, most adults are able to learn at a faster pace than children. With a background of information and experiences to draw upon, an adult is able to associate new material with what is already known. Additionally, adults have access to more resources and the ability to sift through information quicker for relevant information. Although adults might learn faster, children are more inclined to take chances, and it is easier for them to have a social circle to interact with on a regular basis for group discussion on topics.  

Adults learn similar to children by building upon previous knowledge. Adults might learn in group settings in classrooms, workshops, or individually using online training programs. The social interaction of a classroom is an open forum for adults to ask questions to peers and instructors, similar to the classroom setting of children. Using technology to learn is popular with all ages. Children thrive on using computers in classrooms and using games to learn material. Adults are more likely to use online training programs to advance their education in individualized, self-paced environments. Technology has made learning easier and fun. It engages students using a combination of learning styles. Online learning programs offer the ability to adjust levels of the program to meet the student’s ability.

Learning is a life long process. Adults who value education continue to learn their entire life. It opens new doors, bring enthusiasm, motivation, opens the door to lively discussions with other people, and adds to a person’s style and class. Whether online, through seminars, or by reading books, everyone has the opportunity to learn something new!

References

“Learning Styles. All Students Are Created Equally and Differently.” Teach Make a Difference. https://teach.com/what/teachers-know/learning-styles.

“Overview of Learning Styles.” learning-styles-online.com, Advanogy.com. http://www.learning-styles-online.com/overview (accessed 2020).

Pietrangelo, Ann. “The Left Brain and Right Brain Theory.” Healthline. https://teach.com/what/teachers-know/learning-styles (accessed January 18, 2017).


Article written for Zealousness, Issue 15, Q1, 2020
www.ineducationonline.org/e-magazine



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