Understanding visual learning: your key to effective tutoring

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Photo by LexScope on Unsplash

Have you ever noticed how some people remember details easily, like the exact location of their car keys or the intricate design on the cover of a book they read years ago? If this sounds like you, you may have a visual learning style. Studies show that 75 of all information processed by the brain is derived from visual formats. Visual learners process information more efficiently when presented in visual forms, such as images, diagrams, and videos. 

While having a photographic memory may be associated with this learning style, it's not a defining characteristic. Even if you don't have a near-perfect memory, you may still benefit from visual aids to help you learn and retain information. So, whether you're a seasoned visual learner or exploring different learning styles, understanding your preferences can help you improve your study habits and achieve your learning goals.

Meaning of Visual Learning

Visual learning is a learning style in which individuals rely heavily on visual aids, such as images, diagrams, and videos, to process and retain information. This learning style has been extensively studied and is supported by cognitive psychology, neuroscience, and education research.

According to a study by the University of Melbourne, visual learning can improve retention rates by up to 400%. Visual aids help learners to form connections between new information and existing knowledge, making it easier to remember and recall the information later. This is because the human brain processes visual information more efficiently than other types of information, such as text or auditory information.

Furthermore, visual learning is particularly effective in certain educational contexts. For example, a study by the University of Nottingham found that visual aids can be highly beneficial for learning STEM subjects (science, technology, engineering, and math), allowing students to understand complex concepts and processes better.

Visual learning is not limited to educational contexts, either. It is an important part of our daily lives, from reading maps and graphs to interpreting body language and facial expressions. Visual aids are also used in industries such as marketing and advertising to convey information to consumers.

Benefits of Visual Learning

In this era of technology and digital media, visual learning has become more accessible. So whether you're a student or a professional, get ready to explore the many benefits of visual learning and revolutionize the way you learn!

1. Quality of learning enhances

Visual learning enhances the quality of learning in several ways. When we learn visually, we engage more of our senses, which helps us absorb information better. Using images, charts, and other visual aids, we can connect concepts and ideas more easily to understand and remember. This can help us develop a more comprehensive understanding of the material we're learning.

Visual learning also helps us focus and stay engaged during the learning process. When presented with information visually, we're more likely to pay attention and retain what we've learned. This can improve our motivation to learn and help us stay interested in the subject.

Another way that visual learning enhances the quality of learning is by helping us develop critical thinking skills. When presented with visual information, we're forced to analyze and interpret it, which helps us develop our analytical and problem-solving abilities. Visual learning can also help us think more creatively, as we're encouraged to look at information from different perspectives and find new ways to connect ideas.

2. It is cost-effective

Visual learning is also very cost-effective. Most strategies you use while learning this way require little to no expense. For example, creating power-point slides with notes, highlighting key passages, using doodles and flowcharts in your notes, creating flashcards, and other strategies can help you have a customized and efficient learning experience. All of these can be done with just some colored markers and a laptop, which saves you money.

3. Retention improves

In recent years, virtual learning has become increasingly popular, especially with the rise of online courses and distance learning programs. One of the major benefits of virtual learning is its ability to help students retain more information. Studies have shown that students who engage in virtual learning tend to remember more than traditional methods. So, why does virtual learning enhance retention?

First, virtual learning offers an interactive and engaging learning experience. Using videos, quizzes, simulations, and games, students can interact with the learning material in various ways. This interactivity allows students to engage with the material on a deeper level, which can help them remember more. Additionally, virtual learning often provides instant feedback, which can help students identify areas where they need to focus their attention and improve their understanding.

Secondly, virtual learning provides personalized learning experiences. Students can learn at their own pace and schedule, reducing stress and improving motivation. Moreover, virtual learning often allows students to receive personalized feedback and support from instructors, which can help them overcome any difficulties they may encounter. In this way, virtual learning can be a powerful tool for improving retention and ensuring students succeed.

4. Learning becomes fun

Visual learning can make learning more fun by adding an element of creativity and engagement to the learning process. When we use visual aids such as images, charts, diagrams, videos, and other interactive tools, we create a more immersive and dynamic learning experience that can capture our attention and keep us engaged.

Visual learning can also make learning more enjoyable by giving us a break from traditional, text-heavy learning methods. By incorporating colorful and interesting visuals into our learning materials, we can break up the monotony of long lectures and dense textbooks and inject some excitement and creativity into our learning experience.

Visual learning can help us connect with the subject matter more personally. We can make learning more meaningful and memorable by using images and other visuals that are relevant and relatable to our interests and experiences.

The use of visual aids can encourage active participation and collaboration, which can make learning more social and enjoyable. For example, creating group projects that involve visual elements, such as creating a collaborative infographic or video, can foster a sense of camaraderie and make the learning process more enjoyable.

Simple strategies to help you effectively manage visual learners

As a tutor, it's essential to understand that visual learners make up a significant proportion of the student population and to employ effective strategies that cater to their learning style. Below are some strategies to help you get the ball rolling.

1. Use visual aids

One of the surest strategies for hitting the mark when dealing with visual learners is leveraging visual aids. A study conducted and published in Teaching and Learning in Medicine found that visual aids significantly improved students' performance in anatomy tests compared to those who learned only through traditional methods.

Visual aids are an effective tool for helping visual learners understand and remember complex concepts. Visual aids such as diagrams, charts, and graphs can help students organize their thoughts, see the relationships between ideas, and understand the big picture. Visual aids can also help break down large concepts into smaller, more manageable parts. For example, a human heart diagram can help a visual learner understand its structure and function compared to verbally explaining the structure and function of the human heart.

2. Incorporate videos

Another pretty cool strategy to get visual learners on track is using videos. Videos are an excellent tool for visual learners as they help students see concepts in action. Since visual learners have active imaginations, incorporating videos in teaching allows students to create mental pictures of information. This, in turn, boosts students' ability to retain information. According to the Journal of Educational Psychology, using videos and other Instructional methods improved students' learning outcomes, including higher test scores and increased engagement, compared to using only traditional methods.

Watching videos can provide vivid context and bring a subject to life. Videos can be especially helpful in science and social studies classes, where they can show how concepts work in real-world situations. For example, a video demonstrating the process of photosynthesis can help a visual learner understand how plants produce energy.

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3. Use mind maps

A study found that using mind maps improved students' learning outcomes by helping them organize and remember information better. But then, what are mind maps? Let’s find out, shall we?

Mind maps are visual representations of information that can help students organize and connect different ideas. They are great tools for visual learners, as they can help students see the relationships between different concepts. Mind maps can also help students remember information by associating it with visual images. For example, a mind map of the different types of clouds can help a visual learner understand the characteristics of each type. This is achieved through the mind's ability to absorb and process information photographically.

4. Incorporate colors 

According to a study, using colors to highlight important information helped students remember it better than when no color was used. Using different colors can help visual learners identify and remember key information. For example, you can use a different color for each type of information, such as blue for definitions, green for examples, and red for important concepts. Using colors can also make studying more enjoyable and engaging for students.

5. Encourage drawing activities

Drawing is an excellent tool for visual learners, as it can help them remember information better. As a tutor, it is part of your job description to encourage students to draw diagrams or illustrations to help them understand and remember concepts. Drawing can also help students express themselves creatively and make learning more enjoyable.

A study found that encouraging students to draw helped them understand scientific concepts and improved their learning outcomes, including improved understanding of the concepts and higher test scores, compared to those who learned only through traditional methods.


Visual learners process information best through visual stimuli, and tutors should use effective strategies that cater to their learning style. These strategies include visual aids, videos, mind maps, colors, and encouraging drawing. By understanding and leveraging these visual learning techniques, tutors can help visual learners improve their understanding of complex concepts and perform better academically.

Ihor, CEO at Workee

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