Monday, March 17, 2008

Resources for Visual Learners

A large number of my students have higher scores for visual learning than verbal (read/write) learning when they take learning style assessments.  Obviously, they have to use both learning styles in law school.  However, by converting material to visual graphic organizers to absorb it, process it, and retain it, these students will be better able to convert it back into verbal forms for the exams.

I have listed some web-based and hard copy resources below that may assist your visual learners.

  • Students can explore three K-12 educator web sites to discover a variety of graphic organizers for learning.  Although the examples will talk about photosynthesis or the plot for Huck Finn, the students can easily relate to which of the organizer formats might be useful for different law courses.  The three web sites to check out are: Write Design on Line; Education Place; and The Graphic Organizer
  • A software that helps students to produce flowcharts easily can be found at Inspiration Software.  Although the company offers several software products, law students want to click on Inspiration 8.0.  There is an option for a 30-day free trial.  One of the nifty aspects of this software is that once the student has made the flowchart, she can choose for the software to produce a skeleton outline of the information.
  • The Gilbert Outline Summaries Series uses more visuals than any other study aid series that I have discovered.  Some of the different graphic formats used by the series are: tables, columns, time lines, decision charts, relationship charts, and checklists.
  • The CrunchTime Series uses decision flow charts.
  • The PMBR Finals Law School Exams Series uses tree diagrams.
  • BarCharts is a laminated chart series that uses color and columns of information.
  • The newest version of Microsoft's software apparently includes a better program for making graphic organizers than earlier versions.  I do not have Office 2007 on my computer yet, but several students have mentioned the changes.

In addition, my students regularly use several methods to make their own graphics:

  • A dry erase board can be used to create the graphic with colored markers.  Once the student is satisfied with the result, she can turn it into a hard copy.
  • A large newspaper pad with black pages (like what is put on an easel in a workshop) can be used to create graphics.  Some students use masking tape to put the results on their apartment walls so that the graphics are in constant view.
  • Different color post-it notes representing different concepts or levels in a hierarchy can be taped to the same type of newspaper pad blank sheets.  The ideas can be connected by drawing lines with highlighters.

For our visual learners, a picture is worth a thousand words.  However, some of them hesitate to maximize on this capacity because others have told them verbal ways to learn in law school.  When I encourage them to use their visual preference more frequently, they often report major breakthroughs in learning, retaining, and recalling information.  (Amy Jarmon)

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