Learning Styles Theory Introduction

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To do so, there are several tests that can be used to analyze learning styles. One such test is the VARY questionnaire, which categorizes learning style into Visual, Aural, Read/Write, and Kinesthesia (VARY: A Guide, 2001). There is also another category called Multimedia, which simply means that the person learning has multiple preferences for learning and can use a combination of styles easily. Patients who come back to the hospital over and over again aren’t necessarily doing so because they don’t want to learn how to stay healthy, but they might not know how.

According to Barman, Safer, and Ihram (2009), Students are not failing because of the curriculum. Students can learn almost any subject matter when they are taught using instructional approaches responsive to their learning style strength. Matching and mismatching of learning styles and instructional styles have significant effect upon learning outcomes. (p. 259) As nurses prepare to discharge patients, it is important to attempt to teach them in the learning preference of their choice.

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If a nurses teaching style and a patients learning style are different, it may cause a clash” of learning styles and make the patient uncomfortable as well as impede learning (Brady, 2013). If the nurse is able to use multiple learning styles while teaching, and narrow down the style most effective for the patient or family being taught, it will “help improve the information assimilation and learning experiences” (Brady, 2013, p 16). It will also help nurses to “impart new information in a memorable way” (Brady, 201 3, p 16).

If a patient is supposed to learn how to keep healthy and prevent recurrent episodes of illness, they need to understand the information in a way that hey can not only remember, but also in a way they will be able to utilize daily. To facilitate better teaching, nurses should incorporate multiple strategies into their teaching. To teach auditory learners, make time to have a discussion about any new tasks or concepts out loud and encourage them to ask questions and talk about their ideas during the lesson as much as possible; not relying on the patient to read written instructions only (Faber, 2013).

For Visual learners, “use art frequently. Even something as simple as small drawings to demonstrate… Title can be of value’ (Faber, 2013). Whenever possible, use pictures to illustrate points and diagrams, graphs, or charts to show statistics (Faber, 2013). For read/write learners, use handouts and allow the patient to write notes (VARY: A Guide, 2001 To teach kinesthesia learners, give them small tasks while you are talking, such as writing key words on a whiteboard, or putting key words into a Venn diagram (Faber, 2013).

You should also give them as much hands on experience as possible by demonstrating to them what to do and then have them monastery it back since they “learn best by experience and practice” (Barman, Safer, and Ihram, 2009, p. 257). As previously stated, a person who prefers multiple learning styles is categorized as a multimedia learner. Multimedia learners make up “approximately 60% of any population” (VARY: A Guide, 2001 As a multimedia learner, I prefer the Aural and Kinesthesia approach to learning. Other multimedia learners can have anywhere from 2 preferences like me, to being equal with all 4 preferences.

This allows them to adapt to the mode being used at any given time. Positive reactions mean that those with multimedia preferences choose to match or align their mode to the significant others around them” (VARY: A Guide, 2001). Aural/Kinesthesia multimedia learners not only enjoy discussing topics, ideas, examples, stories, and jokes, but also enjoy hands on experiences, trial and error, and using all of their senses. Multimedia users such as myself may have already been using all of these different modes of learning already, but like me, may not have had the understanding for why these modes work best for them.

Tests eke the VARY online guide to learning styles are useful in the fact that they clarify why certain learning styles work better than others for each individual and also because they give examples of things to enhance learning or teaching in ways that might not have been used before. Using myself as an example, have always found it helpful to record lectures, and then discuss the lectures with others afterwards. Things have always seemed to “click” when I am able to take it apart physically and put it back together, or conduct the procedure personally. These are classic strategies for an Aural/Kinesthesia earner.

The VARY questionnaire also says that I should role play exams or test situations, apply the questions to experiences I’ve had, put my summarized notes onto tape and listen to them, and spend time in quiet places recalling the ideas (VARY: A Guide, 2001 As nurses attempt to teach patients about disease processes, lifestyle changes, plans of care, tasks, or anything else, they should keep the patients learning style in mind while creating the teaching plan. If they aren’t sure of the patients learning style, they should prepare the lesson in a way that covers all learning preferences.

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