Visual, Dyslexic, and Other Learning Preferences

Question: Do different learning styles exist? Answer: Of course they do.

There has been a long history of exploring learning preferences among students and adults and dramatic differences exist in between groups of dyslexic and non-dyslexic individuals.

Look at this data from Dyslexic Advantage:

Because traditional school is so challenging for verbal abilities, it should not be surprising that many dyslexic children and adults excel outside the classroom. Multisensory strategies are the hallmark for Orton-Gillingham-based dyslexia education – and there the emphasis on doing and seeing as well as speaking is often much stronger than words alone.

From Perkin and Croft’s The Dyslexic Student and Mathematics in Higher Education:

“One question was asked the dyslexic and non-dyslexic students who participated in the explanatory studies was ‘are there any areas of mathematics which you understand but for which you frequently obtain incorrect answers?’ Only one of the non-dyslexic students answered yes and attributed this to ‘sloppy arithmetic’, moreover, two students explained that if you understand mathematics you obtain the correct answer. Whereas 10 (out of 12) of the dyslexic students answered yes to this question, the topics that were cited were the use of statistical tables, operations involving rows and columns of figures, and multi-stage operations.

Another question we posed was ‘do you use mind maps for mathematics?’ and this also produced a very marked difference in response between the dyslexic and non-dyslexic students. NONE (my caps) of the non-dyslexic students used mind maps and many could not comprehend how they might be used for mathematics and asked if this was possible, whereas seven of the dyslexic students drew mind maps for themselves and made comments such as ‘they are an invaluable part of my learning process’, or ‘they are essential for revision’. ”

This translation of information into diagrammatic / spatial relationships or visual icons seems to a particularly common feature of the dyslexic thinking style, yet at least at present it has received little attention in the formal dyslexia education literature.

One last article excerpt (The Meaning of Dyslexics’ Drawings in Communication Design…the authors commented on the observation that some 24% of dyslexic university students had chosen design schools (Zdziensky, 1996) while on the other hand avoiding further education or training that would require extensive essay writing (Ott, 1997). They sought to examine whether any differences could be seen between dyslexics and non-dyslexics drawing pictures to represent conceptual terms. The dyslexic group were quicker at drawing pictures (15 min vs. 20 min), had higher rates of using divergent symbols to represent opposing concepts (70% dyslexics vs. 40% non-dyslexics, associated with higher levels of creativity, at least suggested by Guilford, 1962).

Drawings of dyslexics:

For more on Dyslexic Thinking and Design, check out this free access article: Dyslexia as a Resource for Design pdf.

Brock Eide

Brock Eide

CEO, Neurolearning SPC

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.