There are many different ways to learn, and each student has preferences for how, when and where they do so. Learning styles are "traits that refer to how individuals approach learning tasks and process information" (Kemp, Morrison & Ross 1998), and are influenced by personality, habits, attitudes and past experiences; they are "both biological and developmental" (Dunn & Dunn 1993).
Dunn & Dunn have shown that when it comes to learning, there are four major perceptual strengths:
- Visual (preference of 30-40 per cent of learners)
- Auditory (20-30 per cent)
- Tactual (20-25 per cent)
- Kinaesthetic (20-25 per cent)
Furthermore, Dunn (1987) states that 55 per cent of learners are "global" and 28 per cent "analytical".
- A global learner prefers the big picture to the details. They want to know what they will be learning and why they need to learn it. After they have a sound understanding of this, they can concentrate on the details.
- An analytical learner wants to know the details of something before they can take advantage of new information. They "learn best when information is introduced to them step by step, fact by fact ... as long as they feel they are heading towards a goal" (Morse, Oberer, Dobbins & Mitchell 1998).
Learning-style questionnaires (Quiz from CSU or Discovering your Learning Style) can be useful in helping students to gain a clearer picture of themselves as learners.