People gather, process and interpret information in different ways. Students have different preferences in how they learn best. These preferences are sometimes called learning styles and are used to describe and detail the different ways students learn.

Some students learn well with visual forms of information such as written texts, pictures and diagrams, some may prefer spoken explanations and having work read aloud to them, some work better in small groups, whilst others work better on their own.

Each student has a natural inclination towards learning in a specific way, if this preference can be identified, teaching and learning can be organized to accommodate the method in which the student learns most effectively.

Most students learn best through a combination of visual, auditory and kinaesthetic learning styles.

The table below gives an overview of the main characteristics of each learning style.

There are three main types of learning styles:
Learning style Characteristics
Visual Need an overall view and purpose before beginning a project; have trouble remembering verbal instructions; prefer to read and write rather than listen.
Auditory Can follow verbal instructions easily; like to hear someone explain and enjoy explaining to other students; tend to talk to themselves while working.
Kinaesthetic Often take notes or doodle when listening; remember best through activities; enjoy working in groups and interacting with other students.

 

Other learning styles are logical/mathematical, linguistic, intrapersonal (understanding oneself), and interpersonal (through contact with others). Everyone shares all of these learning styles but in different proportions.

Key Points
  • The teacher should be aware of individual pupil’s learning styles and preferences.
  • Most students learn best through a combination of visual, auditory and kinaesthetic learning styles.
  • Plan activities that combine the different learning styles to fit the needs of different types of student in the same class. For example, in Arabic reading, aim to include visual prompts (writing letters on the board) as well as auditory (reading out loud) and kinaesthetic activities (getting them to act out an action in an ayah).

Effective and successful teachers will:

  • Show respect for students’ individual learning styles and differences.
  • Be responsive to students’ different learning styles.
  • Use different levels of tasks and activities.

Visual

Visual learners learn best by reading or seeing pictures. They understand and remember things by seeing them. They like to see what they are learning. They learn best when stories, concepts and other information are associated with images.

As visual learners, they often close their eyes to visualize or remember something, and will find something to watch if they become bored. They may start looking out of the classroom window. They may have difficulty following spoken instructions and can be easily distracted by sounds. They work best in quite classroom environments. Visual learners generally learn to read the Qur’an faster than auditory and kinaesthetic learners. They prefer to read the Qur’an quietly rather than out loud.

Here is how you can help visual learners learn better:

  • Sit them close to the front of the classroom.
  • Use flashcards to help them learn new words.
  • Write down key words, ideas, or instructions on the board.
  • Draw pictures and diagrams to help explain new concepts.
  • Use different coloured board markers and paper.
  • If they have trouble seeing the board ask their parents to have their eyesight checked.

Remember that they need to see things, not just hear things, to learn well.

Auditory

Auditory learners learn by hearing and listening. They understand and remember things they have heard. They store information by the way it sounds and find it easier to understand spoken instructions than written ones. They often learn the Qur’an by reading out loud because they have to hear it or speak it in order to know it. They often memorize the Qur’an with relative ease. They prefer to hear the Arabic alphabet or the Qur’an being recited before attempting to read or memorize it.

As an auditory learner, they may hum or talk to themselves or others if they become bored.

Here is how you can help auditory learners learn better:

  • Sit them where they can hear you.
  • Use flashcards to help them learn new words; read them out loud.
  • Read stories, explanations, or directions out loud.
  • Make time for them to listen to different Qur’an reciters online.
  • Allow them to read test questions out loud.
  • Get them to write something that is dictated to them.
  • Be prepared to listen to them.
  • If they have trouble hearing ask their parents to have their hearing checked.

Remember that they need to hear things, not just see things, in order to learn well.

Kinaesthetic

Kinaesthetic learners learn by touching and doing. They understand and remember things through physical movement. They prefer to touch, move, build, or draw what they’ve learnt. They tend to learn better when some type of physical activity is involved. They need to be active and take frequent breaks, they often speak with their hands and with gestures, and may have difficulty sitting still in one place.

As a kinaesthetic learner, they like to take things apart and put things together, and tend to find reasons to fidget or move around when they become bored. They prefer to show rather than to explain. They are brilliant at remembering things that were done but may have difficulty remembering what they saw or heard in the process. They appreciate physical forms of encouragement, such as a pat on the back or a high five.

Here is how you can help kinaesthetic leaners learn better:

  • Show pupils step-by-step methods of how to solve problems. Break down Qur’anic reading in to small chunks.
  • Plan activities that involve feeling, building, moving, drawing or running.
  • Do lots of activities like art projects and getting them to act out sunnahs or ayahs from the Qur’an.
  • When teaching Islamic studies, give pupils scenarios to act out. Each group can present their role play and it can be used for further discussion to achieve a learning objective.
  • Use flashcards and arrange them in groups to show relationships between words and ideas.
  • Let them write or colour-in Arabic letters or duas before they learn them.
  • Let them make letter shapes out of Play-Doh or pipe cleaner.
  • Plan frequent breaks during reading or studying periods (frequent, but not lon1g).
  • Let them tap a pencil, shake their foot, or hold on to something while learning.

Remember that they learn best by doing, not just by reading, seeing, or hearing.