Learning styles and behaviors, and tutoring methods

This is part 4 of the five-part series: How tutors plan individualized programs for their students


Part 4: Learning styles, behaviours and tutoring methods



Student learning styles and behaviors:

  • Learning styles are the ways we take in, process, and organize information.  Each of us does these things in very individual ways.  Some learn more easily by looking (visual: reading, looking at charts, etc), some by listening and speaking (auditory), and some in hands-on ways (tactual/kinesthetic).  Some learn better in a group, while others learn better alone.  Some learn especially well in very particular ways, such as through music or art.
  • Learning behaviours are the habits we have in relation to learning.  Some people have developed good self-motivation, while others are very dependent on having someone tell them what to do next.  Some are very self-organized and can plan well, while others have not developed these skills.
  • As the tutor observes the student’s learning styles and behaviors, he/she will emphasize learning methods in the tutoring that best match the student’s strongest learning styles.  At the same time, the tutor will also help the student to learn in other ways, so that the student can learn successfully in a variety of situations. 
  • The tutor will also model (teach, but also show through his/her own example) positive learning behaviours such as how to personally plan and monitor one’s own learning, good use of time and materials, and sticking with one’s learning until the goals are reached.
  • And the tutor will encourage the student to back-teach: that is, to put to use the learning styles and learning behaviors the student has been learning by teaching others.  The student may be asked to “teach the tutor” information he or she has just learned, or to go home and teach a younger sibling perhaps, using these styles and behaviors.  The tutor will also encourage the use of the new learning and behaviors in a variety of real-life situations.

A variety of learning methods:

  • A good tutor will use a wide variety of teaching methods. These methods will reflect the student’s own learning styles, but will also introduce new ways of learning to the student.  The more ways a student learns a particular lesson, and puts it into practice, the more likely the student will retain the information and be able to apply it in practical ways.  A tutor will teach through speaking to the student, listening to the student, body-language, written material, use of a variety of forms of media (books, pictures, video, computer, music, etc), student writing/ drawing/ hands-on experimentation, physical activities, and much more.
  • As the tutor and student interact, the tutor will observe the student’s actions and reactions, ask if the student understands, have the student back-teach or do another feedback activity/ application that demonstrates successful learning, maintain good eye contact, and so on.  There may be times when the tutor takes the student on a “field-trip” to experience the learning in a “real” situation, or recommends a “put it into practice experience” for the student to do with family or others.
  • The tutor will seek to understand the student’s perspective.  He/she will use analogies related to the student’s own life and experiences, so the topic is easier for the student to understand.  The tutor will encourage the student to be involved in his/her own goal-setting, and learning.

Be sure to read the other posts in this series: How tutors plan individualized programs for their students.

Penticton tutor: If you live in the Penticton area, and are looking for a tutor, be sure to check out my Penticton tutor information page.

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