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What Does Multi-Sensory Learning Entail and Why is it so Effective?

Multi-sensory learning encourages students to use all or some of their senses to gather information about a task, understand the relationship between concepts, link information to already known ideas, and store information for later recall. Multisensory teaching techniques help students learn using more than one sense. Children with learning difficulties can benefit from multi-sensory education as it engages more than one sense at a time.

Unlike traditional methods of teaching, multi-sensory learning maximizes on individual areas of strength to help students learn effectively and perform better in academics. This article gives an in-depth view of multi-sensory learning and explains some of the reasons why it is so effective.


Goals of Multi-Sensory Learning


Multi-sensory instruction organizes learning activities in a way that students can read and understand concepts through active participation, self-effort, and spirited involvement in learning activities. It makes the entire module of learning quite clear to students by involving some or all of their senses through cooperative planning and independent efforts.


Characteristics of a Multi-Sensory Approach to Learning


The multi-sensory method goes beyond the traditional ways of teaching as it calls for the use of some media, techniques, and devices for learning purposes. It involves the simultaneous use of auditory, visual and kinesthetic-tactile approaches to enhance memory. Students can store information in the brain since links are consistently made between what we hear (auditory), what we see (visual), and what we do or feel (kinesthetic-tactile).

Multi-sensory learning is a coherent representation of objects that provide meaningful perceptual experiences through a combination of different modalities. Most teaching techniques used in multi-sensory learning involve auditory and visual senses since a child’s sight is used to look at a text, images, or reading information from the board.


Types of Learners


Auditory Learners


Children under this category use their ears more to learn, comprehend and recall pieces of information presented to them. This means that they learn better through sound regardless of their sight. Students with an auditory modality not only want to hear what is being taught but also need to hear themselves speak what they have learned.
Auditory learners may require amplification devices to hear themselves clearly when repeating new content aloud. As a result, auditory learners understand better, when they explain what they have been taught to other students or a small group of peers.


Visual Learners


Visual learners use their eyes to learn, comprehend, and remember pieces of information. They are more dependent on their sense of sight because they make use of what they know best in the form of colors, text, pictures, and shapes. They make use of visual thinking or imaginations to understand what they are learning. Children with hearing difficulties may prefer optical media as it helps them perceive and remember information from what they see and imagine. The content needs to be organized carefully to help them discover a pattern and illustrate what they have learned.


Tactile Learners


Children with tactile modality learn through the sense of touch and may have to use their hands more often to demonstrate what they have been taught. Tactile learners can move things around to make meaning or represent the learnt concepts by manipulating objects. Some of the tactile materials used in multi-sensory learning include fraction pieces, base ten materials and math counting chips. This type of learning is beneficial to children with poor vision or those who have lost their sense of sight.


Kinesthetic Learners


Kinesthetic learners can only learn and focus by moving in ways that imitate the concepts they have learned. For instance, they can use body gestures that reflect the meaning of a word or the shape of alphabet letters. The name of a letter is often tied to their sounds and symbols for them to learn easily and remember pieces of information.


Why is Multi-Sensory Learning so Effective?


Multi-sensory teaching increases active participation of students in a classroom and their understanding of necessary skills through a variety of media. It is an effective method of teaching since students learn from any method that suits them most based on their ability to see, hear, and demonstrate what they have learned. The process of learning becomes lively and exciting by meeting the learning ability of a student.

The use of a multi-sensory approach to learning helps to achieve the affective, cognitive and psychomotor domains of educational goals. It considers the aspects of learning difficulties and individual differences to satisfy the various needs of a child. Multi-sensory learning is very effective because it encourages students to be active participants in their learning rather than passive recipients of knowledge.