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 Styles

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 Styles

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


An Educator’s Guide to Teaching Styles & Learning 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.

What are the 5 main styles in the teaching and learning? ›

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.

What are learning styles and teaching styles for? ›

However, learning styles are widely accepted in education as a way to promote the idea that every student learns differently. Learning styles are not a prescription for teaching students, but they help a teacher recognize the preferential way in which a student processes and retains information.

What is the difference between learning styles and teaching 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.

What are the 4 different learning styles? ›

There are 4 predominant learning styles: Visual, Auditory, Read/Write, and Kinaesthetic. While most of us may have some general idea about how we learn best, often it comes as a surprise when we discover what our predominant learning style is.

What teaching styles are most effective? ›

The Hybrid style of teaching incorporates the student's preferences, diversity, backgrounds, personalities, and interests to address a topic of study. This is an effective teaching style as it meets the needs of all the students and encourages them to indulge in active discussions.

Why is it important for teachers to learn about learning styles? ›

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.

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

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.

What is an example of a teaching style? ›

Other examples of teaching styles examples include inquiry-based, didactic, democratic, facilitative, and andragogic (the art of teaching adults).

Do teachers have different teaching styles? ›

Every teacher has her or his own style of teaching. And as traditional teaching styles evolve with the advent of differentiated instruction, more and more teachers are adjusting their approach depending on their students' learning needs. But there are a few fundamental teaching styles most educators tend to use.

How do you identify learning styles? ›

At a very basic level, each learning style defines the type of learning it represents. Visual learners learn by best seeing, Auditory by listening or speaking, Reading/Writing prefer to read and take notes, and Kinesthetic learners learn best by moving and doing.

What learning style is most common? ›

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.

What are the types of learning styles give an example of each? ›

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 makes a good teacher? ›

Some qualities of a good teacher include skills in communication, listening, collaboration, adaptability, empathy and patience. Other characteristics of effective teaching include an engaging classroom presence, value in real-world learning, exchange of best practices and a lifelong love of learning.

How can I improve my teaching style? ›

Five Ways to Improve Your Teaching
  1. Dialogue with Yourself through a Teaching Log. One very important, but often overlooked, source of input on teaching is you, the teacher. ...
  2. Solicit Feedback from Your Students. ...
  3. Dialogue with Faculty. ...
  4. Dialogue with Peers. ...
  5. Seek Outside Consultation.

What are the 4 A's methods of teaching? ›

The 4As of adult learning: Activity, Analysis, Abstraction, and Application is illustrated in Figure 6-1. The constructivist approach to teaching asserts that a Learner gains and builds knowledge through experience. It recognizes that life experiences are rich resources for continued learning.

What is the best classroom management style? ›

The authoritative approach is the best form of classroom management style because it is the one most closely associated with appropriate student behaviors.

How do you motivate students to learn? ›

Following are some research-based strategies for motivating students to learn.
  1. Become a role model for student interest. ...
  2. Get to know your students. ...
  3. Use examples freely. ...
  4. Use a variety of student-active teaching activities. ...
  5. Set realistic performance goals. ...
  6. Place appropriate emphasis on testing and grading.

What are the three learning styles that teachers should keep in mind when they teach? ›

The three basic types of learning styles are visual, auditory, and kinesthetic. To learn, we depend on our senses to process the information around us. Most people tend to use one of their senses more than the others.

Do learning styles help you learn more effectively? ›

The term “learning style” is one that's commonly used in education. This popular theory teaches that people learn better when taught in a way that matches their learning style—whether that's auditory, tactile, visual, or kinesthetic.

How does teachers teaching style affect students motivation? ›

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.

What is one word for style of teaching? ›

pedagogy Add to list Share.

What happens when learning styles do not match with teaching styles? ›

Incompatibility between learning preferences/styles and teaching preferences/styles is likely to result in student boredom, discouragement, poor test performance, low motivation, shattered self-esteem, and decisions to quit the course or program (Oxford et al., 1991).

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 are the 3 ways to learn? ›

The three primary learning styles are visual, auditory and kinesthetic. By understanding the different ways people learn, you can improve your teaching and help learners achieve their goals.

What are the 2 main types of learning? ›

differentiates between 4 types: Learning type 1: auditive learning (“by listening and speaking“), Learning type 2: visual learning (“through the eyes, by watching”), • Learning type 3: haptic learning (“by touching and feeling”), • Learning type 4: learning through the intellect.

How to accommodate different learning styles in the classroom? ›

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.
Apr 6, 2021

What is the rarest type of learner? ›

Kinesthetic learners make up just 5 percent of the population and are a bit more complex than other types of learners and communicators. Kinesthetic learners need to actively participate — often physically — in problem-solving or new tasks and often have trouble sitting still for long stretches of time.

How do students learn best? ›

Students learn by connecting new knowledge with knowledge and concepts that they already know, most effectively in active social classrooms where they negotiate understanding through interaction and varied approaches.

Which one of the following is the best example of a learning style? ›

Thus, it is concluded that Visual is an example of a learning style.

What is learner strategy? ›

A learning strategy is an individual's way of organizing and using a particular set of skills in order to learn content or accomplish other tasks more effectively and efficiently in school as well as in non-academic settings (Schumaker & Deshler, 1992).

What are the 6 learning styles? ›

These include visual, auditory, kinesthetic, social, solitary, and verbal.

What are the teaching styles in classroom management? ›

There are four styles of classroom management: authoritarian, authoritative, permissive, and indulgent. They range from the teacher having very strong control and less student involvement to the teacher having less control and more student involvement.

What are the 7 ways of learning? ›

7 Types of Learning Styles
  • Visual Learning. One common type of learning style we encounter is visual learning. ...
  • Auditory Learning. ...
  • Logical Learning. ...
  • Verbal Learning. ...
  • Kinesthetic Learning. ...
  • Interpersonal Learning. ...
  • Intrapersonal Learning.
Apr 25, 2022

What are the 4 C's of classroom management? ›

Teaching through the lens of the "Four Cs"—critical thinking, communication, collaboration, and creativity—will help us and our students stay essential in an evolving world of work.

What are the big 5 classroom management strategies? ›

5 Effective Classroom Management Strategies
  • Write Down the Rules.
  • Let Students Help.
  • Encourage Questioning.
  • Let Students Lead.
  • Encourage Group Projects.
Sep 21, 2021

What are the 7 approaches to classroom management? ›

This diversity in learning styles calls for a variety of approaches to classroom management. This study is anchored with the seven primary classroom management approaches: Assertive, Business-Academic, Behavioral-Modification, Group Managerial, Group Guidance, Acceptance, and Success.


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