Multisensory learning

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Multisensory learning is the theory that individuals learn better if they are taught using more than one sense (modality).[1][2][3] The senses usually employed in multisensory learning are visual, auditory, kinesthetic, and tactile – VAKT (i.e. seeing, hearing, doing, and touching). Other senses might include smell, taste and balance.[4]

Multisensory learning is different from learning styles which is the theory that people can be classified according to their learning style (audio, visual or kinesthetic). However, critics of learning styles say there is no consistent evidence that identifying an individual student's learning style and teaching for that style will produce better outcomes. Consequently, learning styles has not received widespread support from scientists, nor has it proven to be effective in the classroom.[5][6][7][8] For more on this see learning styles.

Reports suggest the human brain has evolved to process multisensory signals, making it is more natural than unisensory processing.[9] Recent research has made clear that multisensory processing of information is part of daily life, whereby the brain integrates the information from different modalities (senses) into a coherent mental perception.[10][11]

Some studies conclude that the benefits of multisensory learning are greatest if the senses are engaged concurrently (see multisensory integration) and the instruction is direct (explicit) and systematic.[12][13] Other studies suggest that multisensory integration only develops optimally by middle childhood (i.e. eight years of age or older).[14]

According to the Independent review of the teaching of early reading (Rose Report 2006) multisensory learning is also effective because it keeps students more engaged in their learning.[15]

The following organizations recommend multisensory instruction for learners with a learning disability: The International Dyslexia Association (IDA)[16] and the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHHD).[17] And one study says there is strong support for using multisensory experiences to increase the focus of students with special needs.[18]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Multisensory instruction: what you need to know, Amanda Morin,".
  2. ^ "The New Handbook of Multisensory Processing, 2012, edited by Barry E. Stein, Professor and Chair of the Department of Neurobiology and Anatomy at Wake Forest University School of Medicine".
  3. ^ "Computational principles and models of multisensory integration., Chandrasekaran C1.April 2017". PMID 27918886.
  4. ^ "The effects of multisensory, explicit, and systematic instructional practices on elementary school students with learning impairments in encoding and oral reading, February 2015, Lisa Rosenberg".
  5. ^ "Cedar Riener & Daniel Willingham (2010) The Myth of Learning Styles, Change: The Magazine of Higher Learning, 42:5, 32-35, DOI: 10.1080/00091383.2010.503139".
  6. ^ "The Scientific Status of Learning Styles Theories, Teaching of Psychology, v42 n3 p266-271 Jul 2015, Willingham, Daniel T.; Hughes, Elizabeth M.; Dobolyi, David G."
  7. ^ "Teach learning skills not learning styles, Christine Harrington, March 24, 2014, Posted in: Curriculum and Programs, Curriculum Development".
  8. ^ "Neuroscience and Education, Usha Goswami - Neuromyths 2006".
  9. ^ "Benefits of multisensory learning, 2008, Opinion - Trends in Cognitive Sciences is a peer-reviewed reviews journal published by Cell Press. No.x, Ladan Shams and Aaron R. Seitz" (PDF).
  10. ^ "Is neocortex essentially multisensory? Ghazanfar and Schroeder, Trends in Cognitive Sciences. 2006 Jun;10(6):278-85". PMID 16713325.
  11. ^ "The multisensory function of the human primary visual cortex. Murray MM1, Thelen A2, Thut G3, Romei V4, Martuzzi R5, Matusz PJ6.Neuropsychologia. 2016 Mar;83:161-169. doi: 10.1016/j.neuropsychologia.2015.08.011. Epub 2015 Aug 11". PMID 26275965.
  12. ^ "The effects of multisensory, explicit, and systematic instructional practices on elementary school students with learning impairments in encoding and oral reading, February 2015, Lisa Rosenberg".
  13. ^ Pre-attentive processing: "the subconscious accumulation of information from the environment"
  14. ^ "Multisensory Integration: A Late Bloomer, 2008". Max Planck Institute for Biological Cybernetics, Spemannstr. 41, 72076 Tübingen, Germany
  15. ^ "Final Report, Jim Rose,March 2006" (PDF).
  17. ^ "Interventions for Specific Learning Disabilities,".
  18. ^ "Multi-Sensory Intervention Observational Research, International Journal of Special Education, v26 n1 p202-214 , 2011, Thompson, Carla J."

External links[edit]

  • Crossmodal Research laboratory, Oxford Department of Experimental Psychology [1]
  • Multisensory Integration and Attention in Developmental Dyslexia, 2014, [2]
  • Multi-sensory learning and learning to read, 2010, Leo Blomert, Dries Froyen [3]
  • The Impact Of Using Multi-Sensory Approach For Teaching Students, Dec 22, 2012 , Majeda Al Sayyed Obaid [4]
  • Using a multi-sensory teaching approach to impact learning and community in a second grade classroom, Stoffers, Melissa (2011)[5]
  • The Impact of Multisensory Instruction on Learning Letter Names and Sounds, Word Reading and Spelling, a dissertation by Nora Wersich Schlesinger - 2016 [6]
  • The Use of Multisensory Approaches during Center Time, through Visual, Auditory, and Kinesthetic-Tactile Activities, to Enhance Spelling Accuracy of Second Grade Students, Journal of Education & Social Policy Vol. 2, No. 1; March 2015, Joanne Jasmine, Ed.D., Megan Connolly, M.A.[7]
  • The Efficacy of a Supplemental Multisensory Reading Program for First-Grade Students, September 22, 2008, Scheffel, Debora L.; Shaw, Jack C.; Shaw, Rose [8]
  • MULTISENSORY TEACHING OF BASIC LANGUAGE SKILLS: Activity Book, January 1, 2007, Cicci, Regina [9]
  • Multisensory Learning in Inclusive Classrooms, Academic Exchange Quarterly, September 22, 2003, Borek, Jennifer A.; Thompson, Susan M. [10]
  •, The merging of the senses: understanding multisensory experience. Funded by an Advanced Grant of the European Research Council (ERC) between 2011 and 2016 [11]
  • Book: Brain Rules, 2008, John Medina [12]
  • YouTube: Multisensory Reading Instruction Overview [13]
  • YouTube: What is multi-sensory reading? [14]