Learning Styles: Are you a right-brainer or a left-brainer?

Posted January 29, 2010 from New Zealand

Ciao! I'm dropping in as I realized I am not a member of your group yet, so I apologize for walking straight through the door. I'll knock next time!

Did you know that people have different learning styles related to brain functioning? Before you think I am going to confuse you with some neurological-speak, the left brain is simply the analytical part of the brain while the right is the creative, artistic side. Thus, a left-brainer will tend to learn things sequentially, step-by-step. That means they'll start with the details in the beginning and work their way logically towards a conceptual understanding.

Right-brainers on the other hand, will look at the big picture, that is the concept, and then move towards the specifics. No one way is the "right" way but it may help to explain why you may learn something differently from the person next to you. Which type of learner are you?

LEFT-BRAINER (Analytical): 1. Verbal 2. Responds to word meaning 3. Sequential 4. Processes information linearly 5. Responds to logic 6. Plans ahead 7. Recalls people's names 8. Speaks with few gestures 9. Punctual 10. Prefers formal study design 11. Prefers bright lights while studying

RIGHT-BRAINER (Visual): 1. Visual 2. Responds to tone of voice 3. Random 4. Processes information in varied order 5. Responds to emotion 6. Impulsive 7. Recalls people's faces 8. Gestures when speaking 9. Less punctual 10. Prefers sound/music background while studying 11. Prefers frequent mobility while studying

So, if you are sometimes frustrated with learning math, just know it may be because your teacher is teaching for left-brains while you are a right-brain! But, don't give up and understand that you need to study according to your learning style. Ask questions if you do not understand a concept and remember that math is like a foreign language – it must be practised.

Have fun!

Comments 3

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  • Mauri Favaron
    Jan 30, 2010
    Jan 30, 2010

    Janice, you're welcome even from the window! I've opened the door, too! A bit late, I admit, but I did! ;-)

    (And after all, doors exist to be opened, isn't it?)

    Yes, we all learn differently!

    Some are more sequential, and some more parallel.

    Some are more inductive, while other are more deductive.

    Your point is very important, and I'd like we all spend some time on learning style differences, and how to use them to make learning an interesting and emotionally involving experience o anyone!

    Incidentally, I've discovered someone saying to tell you in less than a second whether you are left- or right-brained. I've found it in an amusing BBC site which claims finding your "brainsex" (an interesting subject to exert scientific critical thinking). The instruction you get reads:

    "Clasp your hands together in front of you, interlocking your fingers. Which thumb is on top?"

    If you answer "Right", then the site says you're likely to be left-brained - and vice versa.

    Easy and deterministic, isn't it? ;-)

    I'm figuring it applied in a class, all cubs telling their way whether they think their top thumb is "right" or "left". Very amusing, and laugh-inspiring! Until the inevitable desperate question: "Please, please, how may I unravel my fingers now?" (from myself, possibly!)

    Fortunately, we all are exceptions to general rules.

    So, what of a little child with characteristics in part left-, in part right-brained?

    Some research points out the female brain seems to work in a less-lateralized way with respect to some tasks (language, in particular), and generally speaking to be less hemisphere-dominant than the male brain.

    Luckily, there is no way to predict whether a child's brain is "male" or "female" just looking to her / his sex - so we have a wonderful excuse to deal with all them individually, see infinite shades, and always find ourselves surprised.

    Is there an individual-friendly way to present math, physics and science? I feel this is a central question for the Math Support Gals.

    Cheers, and thank you of your inspiring post!


  • JaniceW
    Jan 30, 2010
    Jan 30, 2010

    I came out as right-brained. Is there an individual-friendly way to present math, physics and science? Hmmm, I wonder. Let's keep chatting but you would probably need to lead the charge on this one as it's a little beyond my experience.

    So glad to be a part of this group. Janice

  • Mauri Favaron
    Jan 30, 2010
    Jan 30, 2010

    I tried with statistics. Repeated the exercise a ten times, and found 6 "left top" times.

    So, may I say I'm 60% right-brained?

    (Oh, Janice, I found another possibility: that I'm not "brained" at all! That would explain many things...)

    I'm willing to dig in more depth on the subject, by the way. The kind of experience I have comes mostly from personal observation, and some books. So, "not that much".

    The point is so important, however. And, I see it may require some positive action. It's true, teaching mathematics and physics can be made more girl-friendly, and should do. In the process, may we discover it becomes also more boy-friendly?

    Thanks again. I'll post some articles and, if able, collect some others' ideas on the subject.

    As you see, you say be "not an expert", but your idea is compelling!