Address Diverse Learning Styles

Last updated: February 16, 2021

Students learn in different ways and often come to a course with different backgrounds and levels of preparedness. Using the Web, you can make material available to your students in different forms, allowing them to engage with course material at their own pace and in the medium that suits them best.

Common Goals

  • Stimulate student interest in course material.
  • Use media appropriate to course content.
  • Reach students in a variety of ways.


Options for addressing diverse learning styles are suggested below.

Course Web Site

A web site can be the gateway to resources tailored for a variety of learning styles. You can have your students access sounds, images, simulations, and text, enabling them to learn course concepts from varied perspectives. You may simply want to provide your syllabus online, or offer course notes for review so that students can access this information at any time, from home or school. There are numerous ways to go about creating a Web site. The Catalyst Web site offers step-by-step instructions for using a variety of Web page editors.


Pictures grab students’ attention and convey some ideas more easily than verbal descriptions. You can illustrate your course content with diagrams, photos, maps, or a variety of other visual resources. Visual resources posted to a Web site are also available 24 hours a day, so students who need extra time to review material can access it at their convenience. For example, thousands of photographs of cities and buildings are available to students as they study history, architecture, geography, or other related topics.


Using sounds in your lectures can stimulate your students and enhance the learning experience. You might want your students to listen to native speakers of a foreign language, for example. You can post your sound files on the Web so your students have easy access to these materials.

Learning with Simulations

Some students learn best by being engaged in a hands-on experience. When this is not possible, simulations can be the next best solution. See for example the USDS Forest Simulator, software that allows students to set the parameters and watch the forest they planned grow over many years.

PowerPoint Presentations

PowerPoint presentations give students an important visual point of reference during lectures. Archiving these presentations on the Web gives students a chance to review your main points both verbally and visually and opens up new opportunities for learning.

Catalyst Portfolio Tool

The Catalyst Portfolio Tool allows students to collect, annotate, arrange, and display on the Web a variety of digital artifacts that illustrate their accomplishments. By creating a portfolio project for your students, you can encourage them to reflect on their experiences and accomplishments. Students can use a variety of media in their portfolios, enabling them to work in a medium suited to their learning style.

Catalyst WebQ Survey Creation Tool

This tool makes it easy to create online, interactive surveys, quizzes and questionnaires, which you can use to track your students’ learning. With WebQ you can find out your students’ learning preferences, their prior knowledge of the subject matter at the beginning of a course, or you can encourage students to provide feedback throughout the quarter. For example, you can survey your students’ experience with technology early in a course that uses computers to get a sense of their technical proficiency and level of comfort.

Electronic Discussions

Some students prefer to share their ideas at their own pace and in a safer environment, rather than present them in an impromptu fashion during class. Tools for electronic discussion might be just what you need to elicit participation from everyone in your course. Mailman can make it easy to set up and manage email lists for your class.

Campus Resources

  • Learning Technologies Workshops – UW-IT offers workshops to help you use the tools you need to address the diverse learning styles of your students. Participation in these workshops is free for all UW instructors, employees, and students. Advance registration is required for some workshops.
  • Center for Teaching and Learning (CTL) – CTL offers a variety of resources and services designed to promote effective teaching and learning. The center is open to all UW faculty and teaching assistants.
  • Center for Social Science Computation and Research (CSSCR) – CSSCR is a computer resource center that provides facilities and support for social science departments at the University of Washington. Their facilities are available to all UW students, faculty, and staff.
  • Language Learning Center – LLC supports UW faculty and teaching assistants in the teaching, learning, and researching of languages and cultures. The center develops and acquires software, audio, and video materials for coursework, reading and aural/oral testing, and assignments. Audio, multi-standard video, recording, and satellite services are also available.