Understanding learning styles and incorporating auditory learning into 4-H programming

We know that youth absorb information based on their learning style. What are the characteristics of an auditory learner and how do we incorporate auditory learning into 4-H programming?

According to The Ohio State UniversityFact Sheet on Nonformal Teaching Methods, individuals learn in different ways. The Edgar Dale Cone of Experience summarizes how learners retain information. A person remembers 10 percent of what they read, 20 percent of what they hear, 30 percent of what they see and 50 percent of what is seen and heard. The fact sheet goes on to say that the percentage increases for those fortunate enough to read, hear, see and do things in actual or practical experiences.

Why is this important to know? Because as an educator or youth worker, we must understand that teaching according to a variety of learning styles will assist youth to capitalize on their educational success. Since we know that not everyone learns the same way, we must also learn to teach in ways that incorporate a variety of learning styles.

Learning styles are most commonly broken down into three major styles: visual, auditory and kinesthetic/tactile. In an earlier article, we explored visual learning styles which included characteristics of visual learners and how to incorporate the visual learning style into 4-H programming.

Now we’ll explore the auditory learning style. According to the National 4-H Headquarters, auditory learners are those who generally learn best by listening. They prefer demonstrations, videos, lectures, discussions and reading aloud. Auditory learners remember best through hearing or saying items aloud and can be observed reading out loud to themselves.

Since it’s unlikely that you’ll have access to assessment tools which assist in identifying a youth’s dominant learning style, you’ll need to look for basic characteristics that help you to know what type of a learner you are working with. According to Education.com, auditory learners typically:

  • Enjoy talking
  • Talk aloud to themselves
  • Like explaining things to others
  • Remember names
  • Recognize variations in a person’s tone of voice
  • Understand concepts better by talking about themselves
  • Are distracted by background noise
  • Have difficulty following written directions
  • Read slowly
  • Have difficulty being quiet for extended periods of time
  • Like being read to
  • Memorize things by repeating them aloud
  • Enjoy music
  • Whisper the words on the page as they read
  • Hum or sing
  • Like being around other people
  • Enjoy the performing arts

Let’s put the popular 4-H catch-phrase “learn by doing” into action. As a 4-H leader or youth worker, how can you adapt your programming efforts to include educational processes for auditory learning?  Here are a few suggestions:

  • Create a song, poem or rhyme with the information you are presenting
  • Create check lists to help retain information
  • Encourage the youth to share information they hear from an educational radio program
  • During reflection of a program, have youth share in a discussion
  • Allow youth to create their own educational videos and present them to the group
  • Ask youth to verbalize what they learned during an experience
  • Request youth to repeat back to you what they have heard

According to learning-styles-online.com, everyone has a mix of learning styles. Some people may find that they have a dominate style of learning, with far less use of the other styles. They go on to explain that others may find that they use different styles in different circumstances. 4-H National Headquarters reminds us that understanding learning-style preferences can help 4-H staff and volunteers provide a variety of experiences for youth to allow them the greatest margin of success in learning new skills and concepts.

Keep in mind that we are highlighting auditory learning in this article. There are several other types of learning styles that we will be exploring in future articles.

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