Learning How to Learn

Visual/spatial learning

overview graphic of components of visual learning

Learning,
for visual-spatial learners,
takes place all at once,
with large chunks of information grasped in intuitive leaps,
rather than in the gradual accretion of isolated facts,
small steps or habit patterns gained through practice.
For example, they can learn all of the multiplication facts as a related set in a chart much easier and faster than memorizing each fact independently." 1

Organizing:

    • The visual/spatial perspective is the organizing principle
      Perfectionism for visual/spatial learners is a well-ordered and -designed space with each object in its place and appealingly so.
      They are uncomfortable, even restless, encountering incomplete or unsettled situations
    • With an instinctive sense of balance and completeness
      they can tell when something is out of alignment, or not truly horizontal or vertical.
      They are adept at working with mirror images and rotating images in their minds, and strive to bring order by constructing, arranging, color coding, or fixing things

Observing/experiencing:

    • Visual/spatial learners are good at seeing the "big picture"
      of both simple and complex systems. Overviews or summaries are their specialty, often at the expense of remembering details or constructing sequences
    • Personal presentation (dress, grooming, even gestures) is important
      Their own presentation/dress is as important as what they notice about others. They establish eye contact when speaking, though can be distracted by their surroundings. So also background sounds can disrupt their listening skills, and they often doodle during lectures, at meetings, etc.
    • They prefer to read and work under subdued or natural lighting
      and in comfortable conditions, and are uncomfortable with glare/harsh lighting, rough clothing, drafts, and temperature extremes

learning graphic/word Learning strategies:

    • Focus on the learning objectives of the class
      Meet with the teacher to understand and apply these to your situation
    • Request advanced organizers
      to help you relate to new material with what you already know
    • Look for opportunities to work with, manipulate and/or engage new material
      • Hands-on approach manipulating forms or objects
      • Using visual clues or landmarks rather than (verbal) sequential steps
    • Look for visual/spatial dimensions in your study:
      Example: geometry has more visual components than algebra in mathematics;
      physics rather than chemistry in science;
      graphic applications in computer science and technology fields;
      studio arts in the creative arts, architecture, mechanics, aeronautics, engineering, urban planning
    • Seek out independent and open-ended studies,
      problem-based learning, case studies, or ways you can be more active with the material to be learned and have alternative strategies of assessment or demonstrating learning

study habits and using technology graphic Study habits

    • Always have the "big picture" before you
      especially when studying its parts or details
    • When trying to remember things,
      close your eyes to get a picture or image of the information to facilitate recall or use flash cards with limited information so that you can picture details and concepts
    • Once a concept is grasped,
      Practice applying the information to new situations or progressive stepped learning
      in place of routine drill and practice that will challenge your attention span
    • Use mind or concept maps (rather than outlines)
      to organize writing assignments to visualize ideas, their connections, sequences, and conclusions
      Brainstorm using illustrations, mind maps and models
    • Look for alternative sources of visual material when you study
      videos, overheads and PowerPoint demonstrations, graphs, maps, and media programs

Using technology:

    • Take advantage of the visual elements
      of the computer in studying or locating information
    • Take advantage of stop/start/replay
      in mediated programs
    • Produce your own mediated programs
      in place of written reports
    • Develop and apply graphical and/or three dimensional models
      to understand new material

lectures, texts, and tests For lectures

    • Avoid visual distractions
      in classroom seating (windows, open doorways, etc.)
    • Look for opportunities to break up lectures
      with reflective though active exercises (question-write-pair-share) and brain-storming sessions
    • Illustrate your notes
      with images and graphs
    • Review and organize your notes after class
      with concept maps
    • Keep and organize a file of handouts
      and summary documents after lectures for review
    • Request " guided notes " or blanks in handouts
      that provide you with cues for completion

Reading text books

    • Look through titles, charts, graphs, and pictures
      to get an overall idea of the content before reading a chapter
    • Use color highlighters
      to emphasize important material
    • Write or illustrate in the margins
      to emphasize important material

Test taking/assessment

    • Write out/illustrate steps in a sequence
      as a checklist to keep on task
    • Think of visual cues and associations in remembering information
      (You may also see the location of an answer rather than the answer itself!)
    • If you are challenged by standardized and/or timed tests,
      meet with your teacher to discuss alternatives for assessment
    • Essay and/or short answer tests, or class presentations/demonstrations
      may be optional assessment techniques

1. Effective Techniques for Teaching Highly Gifted Visual-Spatial Learners, Linda Kreger Silverman, Ph.D. Gifted Development Center, Denver, Colorado http://www.gifteddevelopment.com/Articles/vsl/v05.pdf , 12/8/2003See also: Grow, Gerald, The Writing Problems of Visual Thinkers , Florida A&M University