How to Support Visual Learners in Online School

3 min to read
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People have different learning preferences, and while some students are primarily auditory or kinesthetic learners, other individuals are mainly visual learners. According to research, about sixty-five percent of people are predominantly visual learners. So, for those teaching or supporting students, it’s important to understand the strengths and possible disadvantages of being a visual learner and how to support visual learners in their educational journeys. It’s also useful to know some study tips for visual learners.

How Do Visual Learners Learn?

Visual learners best learn material from visual aids such as pictures, diagrams, drawings, and videos. Visual learners engage with, understand, and remember concepts most easily when they can see the information. 

A visual learner will likely be drawn to whatever an instructor writes down (either on a board or on a handout), and they are drawn to colors and motion. They typically enjoy drawing and painting, and they like to see a task being done before they attempt it themselves. They also best understand relationships and connections between ideas if they are mapped, charted, or presented in a diagram. 

Visual learners often have an affinity for mathematics, computer science, and art. 

Strengths of Being a Visual Learner

Some of the strengths of being a visual learner may include: 

  • An excellent ability to remember places and experiences
  • Strong imagination and visualization skills
  • An ability to organize via lists and charts
  • Strong attention to detail
  • An ability to discern patterns 
  • Strong spelling skills
  • Exceptional note-taking skills

Possible Downsides of Being a Visual Learner

Some of the possible downsides to being a visual learner include:

  • Difficulty remembering something if it is not paired with a visual aid
  • Needing to look at a person who is talking to help the learner focus on what the person is saying
  • Difficulty in retaining information from verbal instructions or verbal lectures 
  • Being easily distracted or overwhelmed by movement or visual disorder
  • Trouble remembering names
  • Difficulty in working in group settings
  • Reading may require intense concentration 

How To Support Visual Learners

Remember that visual learners best understand and retain material when they can see it. So, putting verbal information into some sort of visual context will greatly help visual learners. Here are some ideas and tips for teaching visual learners.

  • Write down instructions.
  • Make wall displays with posters featuring examples of concepts, such as a poster with pictures of animals and a flowchart to demonstrate the food chain.
  • Employ visual cues—such as pictures, colors, large font size, bolding, underlining, bracketing, and purposeful white space—to signify important information.
  • Demonstrate tasks for students.
  • Pair concepts with visual symbols or movements, especially when using flashcards.
  • Have a visual representation of the student’s classes, assignments, and upcoming due dates in a planner or calendar.

Study Tips for Visual Learners

Helping students to understand their preferred learning preference can aid them in knowing how best to study. Here are some study tips for visual learners.

  • Color code notes.
  • Use flow charts, timelines, diagrams, and graphs to put information into a visual format. 
  • Outline the necessary steps to completing a project or meeting a goal.
  • Use listing, clustering, or idea mapping to brainstorm for ideas and to start writing assignments. 
  • Look for videos of demonstrations for tasks.
  • Underline or highlight important information when reading.
  • Use a vocabulary journal or colored flashcards to record new vocabulary that can be reviewed periodically. 
  • Watch people when they talk to help increase focus and material retention.
  • Make study areas visually welcoming.
  • Study individually rather than in a group when possible.

Although most people are visual learners, it should be noted that students should not feel restricted to one learning style. Indeed, students end up using a variety of learning styles to learn and retain information, even if they have a favorite.

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