How Students Learn

By Cody Thomas January 19, 2021

I’m not very good at remembering … actually to be honest, I am terrible at remembering. When I think about my time as a teenager and all the Bible studies I went to, I do NOT remember a good majority of them. I know some of it stuck, but I don’t really remember (shout out to the Student Pastor who invested in me as a teenager, thanks for your faithfulness). The ones I do remember are the ones that appealed to my preferred way of learning. 

People learn differently. There are four different types of learners. Last month I wrote about how our teaching of scripture is not about teaching a history/fact lesson, it is all about the worship of Jesus. We should NOT encourage students to memorize facts, but rather we should encourage them to love Jesus more. Given the fact that people learn differently our approach to teaching students to love Jesus more ought to change from time to time. As Student Pastors, we ought to think outside of the box and seek to appeal to different learning styles. 

BUT too many times we stick with our same ole preaching style and hope all the visual learners suddenly become auditory learners.

How do we think outside of the box and appeal to different learning styles? It starts with understanding the different learning styles and then moves into trying different teaching tactics. You are a teacher of the Word. Your goal is to glorify Christ by making Him known. Teach and preach in a way that appeals to different learning styles. 

Four Different Learning Styles …

1. Auditory Learners

Auditory Learners prefer to hear info rather than reading it or seeing it. Auditory learners enjoy answering questions out loud. They find reciting things helpful. Auditory learners tend to enjoy organization of points and find going over points helpful. These students enjoy listening to podcasts. Tactics for engaging auditory learners:

– Clear outline and points. 

– Use repetition 

– Ask questions and let them respond

2. Visual Learners

Visual Learners prefer to see info and the relationship between ideas. Visual learners enjoy charts and graphs. They learn better when they can connect an idea with a tangible object. These students really enjoy learning things from YouTube. Tactics for engaging visual learners:

– Images!

– Videos

– Imagination

– Object lessons

3. Reading/Writing Learners

Reading/Writing Learners prefer to learn while interacting with text. These students will most likely be students who bring their Bible. These are also the students who will be taking notes. These students really enjoy reading as a hobby. Tactics for engaging reading and writing learners:

– Handouts with fill in blanks

– Devotion handouts

– Opportunities to examine the text

4. Kinesthetic or Hands-On Learners

Kinesthetic or Hands-On Learners prefer to learn by doing. These students do not want to sit back and watch, they prefer to be involved. These students really enjoy games and physically being involved. Tactics for engaging kinesthetic learners: 

– Demonstrate certain actions – role playing

– Ask them to write points down

– Actions that teach

How do we practically incorporate these different learning styles in student ministry?

Think outside of the box! Here are a few ways I’ve “thought outside of the box” and incorporated different learning styles: 

1. Auditory Learners – I’m currently doing a series centered around 1 Timothy 4:12. At the beginning of each lesson we say the verse together. At the end of each lesson we say the verse together. By the end of the series, one of my goals is for the students to have this verse memorized. 

2. Visual Learners – On Sunday mornings we use quarterly material that tends to move through books of the Bible quickly. When we begin a new book study, I show a YouTube video that talks about the book. I normally use the “Bible Project” videos. These videos are visually appealing and do a great job summing up books of the Bible. 

3. Reading and Writing Learners – Instead of me standing up in front of the group and telling them key words in a passage, occasionally I’ll give them a few minutes and let them tell me key words out of the passage. This activity engages them with the Word and shows them how to work through Bible passages. 

4. Kinesthetic or Hands-On Learners – This learning style can be difficult to incorporate, but it is possible. Few weeks ago, I finished a series on the Sermon on the Mount, at the end of the Sermon on the Mount Jesus talks about our foundation. To help visualize a foundation I built a tower out of wooden blocks while I taught. I also gave all the students a sheet of paper. When we talked about foundations that fall, I had them throw their balled-up paper at my tower.

When it comes down to it, the best way to teach someone is by being an example. When you as a leader and follower of Christ are living for the glory of the Lord, people around you will notice. When your actions, your written words, and your spoken words all line up in glorifying the Lord, people will follow you (hands-on) as you follow Christ. Be the follower of Jesus that you needed when you when a teenager. 

This blog was originally posted on https://shepherdingstudents.com/.

Want to know your students learning styles? LeaderTreks offers a Learning Mode assessment inside of our Self Leadership.

About the Author

Cody Thomas

Cody Thomas is the Youth Pastor at First Baptist Church in Franklinton, LA. He is passionate about leading teenagers to know and experience Jesus. Cody is married to the love of his life, Mallory, and they currently have two beautiful daughters. Cody has served in student ministry for many years and is looking forward to…  Read More