An Educator’s Guide to Teaching Styles & Learning Styles (2023)

  • Education
Joseph Lathan, PhDRead Full Bio

6 min read

An Educator’s Guide to Teaching Styles & Learning Styles (2)

Hello, welcome to “An Educator’s Guide to Teaching Styles & Learning Styles.” Today’s discussion topic: How student learning styles affect educators’ teaching styles, and vice versa. Here is the syllabus for our key discussion points:

  • Individual Student Learning Styles
  • The Theory of Multiple Intelligences
  • Teacher-Centered vs. Student-Centered
  • Teaching Styles: 5 Approaches to Education
  • Lifelong Education for Teachers: Impact of an M.Ed.
  • Follow-up Quiz

Editor’s note: The decision to playfully craft this blog post to feel like a classroom lesson is a writing strategy intended to engage the reader for what we hope will be an informative discussion of important educational concepts and practices.

Student Learning StylesAn Educator’s Guide to Teaching Styles & Learning Styles (3)

If you are a teacher, you know that no two students are the same and that there is a spectrum of different learning styles. An educator’s teaching style, therefore, can greatly impact a student’s ability to learn and comprehend. This is why knowledge of different learning styles is essential for teachers.

Does Andrea learn most effectively through images and graphics? She may be aVisual learner.

Does Jeremy seem to grasp the material best by listening to lectures, asking questions and participating in group discussions? He may be anAuditory learner.

Do Max and Emily prefer to gather information by reading, taking notes and writing reports or essays? They may beReading/Writing learners.

And what about Dylan? She is very hands-on, and seems to enjoy taking things apart and putting them back together — to learn by doing. She may be aKinesthetic learner.

That’s one common breakdown of the spectrum of learning styles, but of course it is not the only one. (One of the first lessons you learn when researching learning styles is that there are many different theories.)

One isthe Theory of Multiple Intelligences, developed in the late 1970s and early 1980s by Harvard educator Howard Gardner (see video), who believed that there are eight distinct “intelligences” that are closely connected to learning. These are:

  • Visual-Spatial— The ability to conceptualize and manipulate large-scale spatial arrays (e.g. airplane pilot, sailor), or more local forms of space (e.g. architect, chess player).
  • Bodily-Kinesthetic — The ability to use one’s whole body, or parts of the body (like the hands or the mouth), to solve problems or create products (e.g. dancer).
  • Musical— Sensitivity to rhythm, pitch, meter, tone, melody and timbre. May entail the ability to sing, play musical instruments, and/or compose music (e.g. musical conductor).
  • Linguistic— Sensitivity to the meaning of words, the order among words and the sound, rhythms, inflections and meter of words (e.g. poet). Sometimes called language intelligence.
  • Logical-Mathematical— The capacity to conceptualize the logical relations among actions or symbols (e.g. mathematicians, scientists).
  • Interpersonal — The ability to interact effectively with others. Sensitivity to others’ moods, feelings, temperaments and motivations (e.g. negotiator). Sometimes called social intelligence.
  • Intrapersonal — Sensitivity to one’s own feelings, goals and anxieties, and the capacity to plan and act in light of one’s own traits. It is not particular to specific careers; rather, it connects to the ability of every individual to make consequential decisions for oneself. Sometimes called self-intelligence.
  • Naturalistic— The ability to make consequential distinctions in the world of nature as, for example, between one plant and another, or one cloud formation and another. Sometimes called nature intelligence.

The idea behind multiple intelligence theories is not that people learn in only one way, but that people are stronger in different areas and can demonstrate their knowledge and abilities in different ways. For teachers, being attuned to such distinctions can be helpful in understanding how to best connect with individual students.

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A Range of Different Teaching StylesAn Educator’s Guide to Teaching Styles & Learning Styles (4)

There are two main buckets that most teaching styles fall into: teacher centered or student centered. Here’s a closer look at teacher-centered instruction vs. the student-centered approach:

Teacher-Centered Approach

The teacher-centered approach to education positions the teacher as the expert who is in charge of imparting knowledge to his or her students via lectures or direct instruction. In this approach (sometimes called “sage on the stage”), students are passive actors or “empty vessels,” listening and absorbing information.

This teacher-centered style is the traditional approach to teaching, but it’s not necessarily the best. And as educators learn more about effective ways to engage learners of every style, the teacher-centered approach is looked upon less fondly than it once was. However, there are also countless examples of students being challenged and transformed by a teacher or professor lecturing about a subject they have spent their entire life exploring.

Student-Centered Approach

The student-centered approach creates more equanimity between the teacher and student, with each playing a role in the learning process. In this approach, the teacher is sometimes referred to as the “guide on the side.”

While the teacher still holds authority, he or she is more likely to act as a facilitator, coaching students and assisting them in their learning. This approach champions student choice and facilitates connections among students. A couple of styles within the student-centered approach to teaching are:

Inquiry-Based Style
This student-centered learning style encourages independence, autonomy and hands-on learning, with students leading the way and receiving guidance from their teachers.

Cooperative Style
Cooperative learning is a student-centered approach that focuses on group work and social growth. Much like the inquiry-based style, the cooperative style encourages independence and hands-on learning but puts special importance on peer-to-peer work and community.

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Question: How many teaching styles are there?
Answer: This is sort of a “trick question” because, as you might expect, different educational theorists offer differing ideas about the range, scope, descriptions (and number) of different teaching styles.

Though this may be a case where there are no “right answers,” many educational resources break down the different styles of teaching into the following five primary categories:

Lecturer or Authoritative Style
The authoritative teaching style follows the traditional teacher-centered approach, often characterized by lecture sessions or one-way presentations. In this approach (also called the “chalk and talk” style), students are expected to pay attention, absorb the information, take notes and ask questions.

Demonstrator or Coach Style
Often used in math, science and music, the demonstrator style involves more “showing” rather than “telling” with teachers more likely to support the information with examples or experiments, demonstrations or multimedia presentations.

Facilitator or Activity Style
The facilitator/teacher is focused on promoting self-learning and helping students develop critical learning and thinking skills. A student-centered approach, it involves creating learning plans and classes that require students to explore and discover the course content in creative and original ways.

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Delegator or Group Style
Well-suited for curriculums that include or emphasize group activities, the delegator style of teaching shifts much of the responsibility for learning onto the students, who are encouraged to work together in projects connected to the lesson themes (think science labs, debates, etc.). In this style, the teacher is an active observer working to guide students in the right direction.

Hybrid or Blended Style

The hybrid approach may integrate elements of the styles discussed above, often blending the teacher’s personality and interests with those of the students. While this method is considered inclusive, enabling teachers to tailor their styles to student needs within the subject matter, some educators believe it risks diluting the learning process by placing less emphasis on in-depth study than when following a single, focused approach.

The discussion above is not intended to reduce the organic practice of classroom teaching into neat categories or to pigeonhole educators into being characterized as one “type” of teacher or another — but rather to explore different methodologies to enhance our shared understanding of the teaching experience. What it boils down to is getting to know your students and using your skills and instincts to discover the most effective ways to engage both the individual student and entire classes with your curriculum.

Getting to know each student well enough to effectively teach them is especially challenging for high school and middle school teachers who have different students every hour. What works with one student or group might not work with the next.

That’s why it’s so important for educators to have both a strong sense of the range of different student learning styles and a firm grasp of the different teaching styles and strategies you can use to be the most effective educator you can be.

Lifelong Education for Teachers: Impact of a Master’s Degree

Educators who are motivated to develop a deeper understanding of different teaching styles, learning styles, instructional theory and much more will often pursue a Master of Education degree. Such programs not only present an opportunity to become a better educator, in many school districts obtaining an M.Ed. will also earn teachers a salary increase.

To help expand educational opportunities for busy working teachers, the University of San Diego has developed an innovative, 100% onlineMaster of Education degree programthat gives teachers the option of earning their M.Ed. on their own schedule, while interacting with and learning from fellow educators across the country.

TheM.Ed. specializationsinclude:

  • STEAM(Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics)
  • Inclusive Learning: Special Education and Universal Design(UDL)
  • Curriculum and Instruction
  • Literacy and Digital Learning
  • School Leadership
  • Innovation & Education Technology

Follow-up quiz:

  1. What are some of your most effective teaching strategies?
  2. What aspects of education (or specializations) would you like to learn more about?
  3. Have you been thinking about taking your mastery of teaching to the next level?

If you answered “Yes” to Question 3, you may want to start a conversation with a USD advisor about how our master’s degree program could help you achieve your goals as an educator, and as a lifelong student.

An Educator’s Guide to Teaching Styles & Learning Styles (5)

Joseph Lathan, PhD

Program Director

Hello, welcome to "An Educator's Guide to Teaching Styles & Learning Styles." Today's discussion topic: How student learning styles affect educators' teaching styles, and vice versa. Here is the syllabus for our key discussion points: Individual Student Learning Styles The Theory of Multiple Intelligences Teacher-Centered vs. Student-Centered Teaching Styles: 5…

Read Full Bio


What is learning styles and teaching styles? ›

Theories that students learn and study differently are based on the idea that people have unique approaches to processing information. A learning style is a person's preferred method of gathering, organizing, and thinking about information (Fleming & Baume, 2006).

How do you teach students with different learning styles? ›

Tips for Accommodating
  1. Engage the student in conversation about the subject matter.
  2. Question students about the material.
  3. Ask for oral summaries of material.
  4. Have them tape lectures and review them with you.
  5. Have them tape themselves reviewing material and listen to it together.
  6. Read material aloud to them.
6 Apr 2021

Why do teachers need to use different styles techniques and strategies in teaching? ›

Different teaching styles are necessary because the students need to be able to learn what the teacher is teaching. However, the choice of teaching styles used can also depend on the school mission statement, the classroom demographics, the educational philosophy of the teacher, and most importantly, the subject area.

What is learning styles and why it is important in teaching and learning? ›

Learning style is about how students learn rather than what they learn [1]. The learning process is different for each individual; even in the same educational environment, learning does not occur in all students at the same level and quality [8].

What is the purpose of teaching styles? ›

The goal of any teaching style is to remain focused on teaching objectives and engaging students as best you can. Not all students respond well to a particular style, which is why many professors who are versed in teaching styles use a combination of them based on the subject matter or environment.

What are the 4 P's of teaching? ›

What are the fours Ps and what do they have to do with education you ask? Let me explain. The four Ps: Predictive, Preventive, Personalized, and Participatory.

What teaching styles are most effective? ›

6 effective teaching methods and how to use them
  • Online learning. ...
  • Experiential learning. ...
  • Differentiation. ...
  • Blended learning. ...
  • Game-based learning. ...
  • Student-centred learning.
27 Oct 2021

Why is it important for teachers to know the different learning styles of learners and their multiple intelligences? ›

Stacking your teacher arsenal with knowledge on learning styles and multiple intelligence theory will help you reach all your students and not just a select few. Remember that all learners have unique strengths and weaknesses, and a one-size-fits-all approach to teaching doesn't cater to a student's individualism.

What are the 5 common teaching styles? ›

In the contemporary classroom, five distinct teaching styles have emerged as the primary strategies adopted by modern teachers: The Authority Style, The Delegator Style, The Facilitator Style, The Demonstrator Style and The Hybrid Style.

How can a teacher help students with different learning and thinking styles continue to learn more effectively? ›

How can a teacher help students with different learning and thinking styles continue to learn more effectively? Use questions of all types to stimulate various levels of thinking and valuing.

What is the difference between teaching styles and teaching strategies? ›

The key difference between teaching methods and teaching strategies is that teaching methods consist of principles and approaches that are used by teachers in presenting the subject matter, whereas teaching strategies refer to the approaches used by teachers to achieve the goals and objectives of the lessons.

How do you ensure effective teaching and learning? ›

10 effective teaching practices you can use right now
  1. Model as you teach. ...
  2. Make mistakes. ...
  3. Work as a team. ...
  4. Encourage learning from experience. ...
  5. Let the students teach. ...
  6. Integrate technology into the classroom. ...
  7. Try graphic organizers. ...
  8. Emphasize behavior management.
18 Dec 2019

How does teacher's teaching style affect students motivation? ›

Abstract. The teacher's teaching style will greatly influence on how students will be motivated to learn, thus it is through the creativity of the teacher in presenting the lesson in various ways can add up to the motivating factors of the students to perform well inside the classroom.

How do learning style affect the teaching and learning process? ›

Using a learning-styles based teaching is useful to differentiate instruction: the identification of students' learning approaches can help teachers to implement different strategies for the benefit of different learners.

What are the benefits of knowing the learning style of the learners before teaching them? ›

The benefits of learning styles are that you feel more self-assured, leading to more productive learning and improved working relationships, now and in the future. This is because understanding your learning style means you know what works best for you and can adapt your education experience accordingly.

How do learning styles affect students learning? ›

Learning styles affect learning outcomes through learning motivation in economic subjects, meaning that students who have a visual learning style accompanied by learning motivation will have high learning outcomes, compared to students who have auditory and kinesthetic learning styles.

What is the most common teaching style? ›

A standard, formal way of teaching is the traditional lecture style, where you assume the role of an expert and provide facts to your students. Many times, students will take notes on the information that is being taught.

What are the 5 elements of teaching? ›

These five elements are:
  • Concepts.
  • Knowledge.
  • Skills.
  • Attitudes.
  • Action.

What are the 7 standards of teaching? ›

The Standards
  • Know your students and how they learn.
  • Know the content and how to teach it.
  • Plan for and implement effective teaching and learning.
  • Create and maintain supportive and safe learning environments.
  • Assess, provide feedback and report on student learning.
  • Engage in professional learning.
10 Jan 2022

What are the examples of learning styles? ›

There are seven main learning styles:
  • Visual (spatial) Learner. Visual learners are those who prefer learning by observing things. ...
  • Aural (auditory) Learner. ...
  • Verbal (linguistic) Learner. ...
  • Physical (kinesthetic) Learner. ...
  • Logical (mathematical) Learner. ...
  • Social (interpersonal) Learner. ...
  • Solitary (intrapersonal) Learner.

What are the six principles teachers must practice? ›

Six Principles for Teacher Education
  • Knowledge. Effective teachers possess a well-grounded knowledge of the content areas that are central to their teaching. ...
  • Learning Environment. ...
  • Personalized Learning. ...
  • Community. ...
  • Critical Reflection. ...
  • Growth.

What are the 4cs in teaching and learning? ›

According to the report, the cornerstone of becoming a successful learner at any age comes down to the four C's: critical thinking, collaboration, creativity and communication.

What are the 8 principles of teaching? ›

Eight principles of effective teaching
  • Develop mastery learning. ...
  • Don't dismiss knowledge as 'lower order' ...
  • Expect excellence from all. ...
  • Guide learning. ...
  • Ensure that students have to think hard. ...
  • Put deliberate practice into lessons. ...
  • Test to improve learning. ...
  • Use questioning frequently and rigorously.
21 Apr 2016

Why teachers should consider the learning styles and multiple intelligences in teaching and creating activities for students? ›

Teaching and learning in tandem with multiple intelligences theory allows students to develop a personalized learning process and to express their ability, strengths and talents in both the process and the learning product (Berrington, 2004).

Why is it important to know your learning style and how will you benefit from this knowledge? ›

Identifying your learning style involves understanding how you tend to learn best. You can use this information to your advantage when you study by using learning approaches that work well for you, such as writing out notes, creating mind-maps, using models or reciting out loud.

What are the 12 learning styles? ›

Understanding the 12 Ways of Learning:

They include visual, auditory, tactile, kinesthetic, sequential, simultaneous, reflective/logical, verbal, interactive, direct experience, indirect experience, and rhythmic/melodic.

What can we as teachers do to make our classrooms more responsive to the learning styles of all cultures? ›

5 Culturally Responsive Teaching Strategies for Educators
  • Activate students' prior knowledge. ...
  • Make learning contextual. ...
  • Encourage students to leverage their cultural capital. ...
  • Reconsider your classroom setup. ...
  • Build relationships.
31 Jul 2020

Why is it important that teachers consider the different learning styles of the students when designing assessment activities? ›

It is important for teachers to know their learners' preferred learning styles because this knowledge will help teachers to plan their lessons to match or adapt their teaching and to provide the most appropriate and meaningful activities or tasks to suit a particular learner group at different stages.

What are the 4 main learning styles? ›

There are 4 predominant learning styles: Visual, Auditory, Read/Write, and Kinaesthetic.

Are teaching styles the same as learning styles? ›

Each student has preferences for how he likes to learn. This is known as his learning style, and it's how he comprehends and retains information best. Similarly, teachers like to teach and structure their classrooms in different ways, known as their teaching styles.

How can teachers maintain a focus on teaching and learning? ›

These include: Essential questions, which are used to determine the goal of lessons. Activating strategy, which is a method teachers use to get students excited about and connecting the content to their own lives. Relevant vocabulary, which refers to using vocabulary that students understand.

How can you improve teaching skills for effectiveness? ›

Below are the eight ways you can advance your teaching skills:
  1. Embrace technology. ...
  2. Identify instructional objectives. ...
  3. Use co-operative learning. ...
  4. Ask about students' experience. ...
  5. Meet other teachers. ...
  6. Learn to handle unruly behaviours. ...
  7. Take courses. ...
  8. Use of portfolios.

What is the importance of teaching styles in education? ›

Teaching styles are linked to a professor's educational value system and stem from their philosophy of education. Being aware of your own teaching style (or styles) can help you improve your teaching methods, by designing your course to increase student engagement and, ultimately, enhance student outcomes.

What are the factors affecting teaching styles? ›

The factors affecting teaching are categorized as below: Learners Psychological /Individual Characteristic. Teachers and Classroom supports.
Factors affecting Teaching related to Learner
  • Support materials. ...
  • Instructional facilities. ...
  • Learning environment. ...
  • Socio-economic factor. ...
  • Expectations.

What is an example of a learning style? ›

Auditory learning style – this means you learn by hearing and listening. Acquire knowledge by reading aloud • Hum and/or talk to yourself • Make comments like: ➢ “I hear you clearly.” ➢ “I'm wanting you to listen.” ➢ “This sounds good.” Kinesthetic learning style – this means you learn by touching and doing.

What does learning styles mean in nursing? ›

Learning styles represent “habitual cognitive and affective behaviors which determine how each individual interacts in learning situations or environments” (Andreou, Papastavrou, & Merkouris, 2014, p. 363). Learning styles are one part of the comprehensive approach to be considered in facilitating learning.

What is the most used learning style? ›

Visual learners are the most common type of learner, making up 65% of our population. Visual learners relate best to written information, notes, diagrams, and pictures. You do not work well with someone just telling you information. You work better when you can write the information down!

How do I identify my learning style? ›

Discover your learning style by trying out different approaches to see which ones you like best, such as by drawing a picture of a concept to test out your visual learning abilities. If you take in more information by listening to a lecture or reading a book, you may be a verbal learner.

How do learning styles affect students? ›

Learning styles affect learning outcomes through learning motivation in economic subjects, meaning that students who have a visual learning style accompanied by learning motivation will have high learning outcomes, compared to students who have auditory and kinesthetic learning styles.

What are the three 3 features of learning in nursing theory? ›

Learning theories can be classified into three general groups: Behaviorism, cognitive, and constructivism.

What is another term for learning styles? ›

Since 2012, learning styles have often been referred to as a "neuromyth" in education.

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