Teacher Tips Understanding the Visual Learner

Understanding the visual learner allows good teachers to target their teaching strategy to a vast number of students in their classrooms. “Approximately 20 to 30 percent of the school-aged population remembers what is heard; 40 percent recalls well visually the things that are seen or read; many must write or use their fingers in some manipulative way to help them remember basic facts; other people cannot internalize information or skills unless they use them in real-life activities such as actually writing a letter to learn the correct format.” (Teaching Students to Read Through Their Individual Learning Styles, Marie Carbo, Rita Dunn, and Kenneth Dunn; Prentice-Hall, 1986, p.13.) While all students will practice and develop skills to enhance their learning in non-dominant styles, each one will benefit from instruction that is directed toward their preferred style. It is important to note that everyone learns through all three primary influences, what they hear, what they see and what they do, only that for most people they have a noticeable ease in processing information from one avenue.

Characteristics of Visual Learners

Visual learners are people who learn best by what they see. This type of learner will say, “show me and I’ll understand”.  In general, visual learners like information that is presented in graphs and charts. They tend to dream in colors, like art and fashion, and do well with flashcards. Because they remember what they see, they tend to be good spellers, but won’t always remember names told to them.

Tips for Teachers of Visual Learners

“Children enter kindergarten as kinesthetic and tactual learners, moving and touching everything as they learn. By second or third grade, some students have become visual learners. During the late elementary years some students, primarily females, become auditory learners. Yet, many adults, especially males, maintain kinesthetic and tactual strengths throughout their lives.”(Teaching Secondary Students Through Their Individual Learning Styles, Rita Stafford and Kenneth J. Dunn; Allyn and Bacon, 1993)  Elementary school teachers will begin to see a more distinct need for targeting information to the students who are growing into visual learners.  Drawing out maps, charts and providing pictures or films to show details or explain facts will help visual learners. Because they do not process verbal instructions or information as well, it is important for a visual learner to see assignment instructions written down, or even copy them. Keeping an assignment log and a to-do list will help them to keep track of homework and projects.

Noise and auditory stimulus can be distracting to a visual learner when it is time to study. They should be shown how to outline notes, and utilize colored highlighters or pens to mark key points as they review information. Instructing visual learners in how to organize information into charts or diagrams will help them quickly gather information in a way they can process during test taking or essay writing.

The most important tip for teachers of visual learners is to be sure the teacher makes the student aware of their own preference. Beyond the classroom then the student can take ownership of their education, develop appropriate study habits and feel confident that strategies exist for them to maximize their learning potential even when the instruction situation is not favorable to their style.