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The Taxonomy of Learning Types

Starting with the meaning of taxonomy in simple terms, it means the classification system based on the organizational scheme. Learning taxonomies or classifications are commonly utilized to describe different kinds of learning behaviors and characteristics that we wish our students to develop. Learning taxonomies are used to identify the different stages of learning development and thus provide a useful tool in distinguishing the appropriateness of particular learning types. The Taxonomy of Educational Objectives provides a common language with which to discuss more goals like educational aspects.

Coming to the point of learning types - A learning type or style is basically how a person perceives, conceptualizes, understands the in-depth meaning or the surface level meaning, and recalls information later.

Many taxonomies have been proposed to account for different learning styles by different scholars. There are taxonomies based on different theories of learning and others on theories of learners' personalities. These all taxonomies take into consideration various aspects of learning and general behavior.

Let's take a look at the taxonomy of learning types by points -

  • Starting with the most common type of taxonomy which is also a traditional one. This time of taxonomy has been the most widely used over the years. It is the VAK Taxonomy - it identifies three learning types - Visual, Auditory, and Kinesthetic. Coming to a more in-depth explanation of each of these types -

Visual - Visual learners always choose to see or watch or view the information and that is how they remember all information from seeing rather than learning through listening or hearing. For few learners, visually viewing the information is their learning type. These types of learners think about the visual information to remember and recall. In these learning types, learners learn best from visual displays like diagrams or videos or charts and written information like notes.

Auditory learners - Learners in these learning types enjoy hearing the facts vocalized, they learn the best through verbal lectures and discussions or listening to directions. Learners here tend to listen to lectures carefully and grab the information for remembering. They take notes by putting all concentration on listening. Auditory learners are good at communicating through speech rather than text or others. These kinds of learners often benefit from reading text aloud, when they read aloud, they can understand and capture the information.

Kinesthetic - These kinds of learners prefer a practical approach in learning types. They prefer learning when they are involved and active in it. Kinesthetic learners learn things the best way when they are physically present there, they like to know in detail how things work and learn effectively through physical activity and skills by practicing themselves. These learners use movement as memory and many find it hard to sit still for long periods. One point to note is that kinesthetic learners are slow learners.

  • Another type is Bloom’s Taxonomy. Bloom’s Taxonomy provides six categories that describe the cognitive processes of learning, namely knowledge, comprehension. Application, analysis, synthesis, and evaluation. The different categories are to represent educational activities of increasing complexity and abstraction. Bloom’s original taxonomy served as a common language about learning goals to facilitate communication across persons, subject matter, and grade levels for students. It also was the basis for determining in a particular course or the curriculum the specific meaning of broad educational goals, such as those found in current prevalent standards.

Considering the VAK model in learning types, numerous tests exist to identify which of the three specific types is fit for individual students. Also, it is important to keep in mind that the classification in the VAK taxonomy is a matter of degrees, there are very few people who might fall into just one of the specific learning types, people are falling into three or two of them too.  Coming to Bloom’s Taxonomy, students or learning cross over one step at once, there are fast learners and there are slow learners. Depending on the learning types of each individual they learn and acquire the knowledge at their own pace.

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