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Wetenschappelijk onderzoek

'Rise and Decline of Verbal and Visuospatial Memory', Prof. Jaap Murre, 2010

In het voorjaar van 2010 is het eerste officiële wetenschappelijk onderzoek over het visuele- en verbale leersysteem van mensen afgerond: 'Rise and Decline of Verbal and Visuospatial Memory'. Het onderzoek is gedaan door Jaap Murre, hoogleraar Theoretische Neuropsychologie aan de Universiteit van Amsterdam in samenwerking met de Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam en Duke University. Aan het onderzoek hebben 28.000 mensen deelgenomen in de leeftijd van 11 tot 80 jaar. Er is onderzocht hoe de geheugencapaciteiten zich ontwikkelen en hoe de afname van de geheugenfuncties verloopt. Uit dit onderzoek komt onder andere duidelijk naar voren dat het geheugen van mensen vanaf het vierde jaar een voorkeur krijgt voor een van beide systemen het verbale of het visuele geheugen en dat één van deze systemen dominant is. Dit geldt voor zowel het korte termijn geheugen als het lange termijn geheugen. Het onderzoek sluit dit niet uit dat er een groep mensen is die in beide leersystemen dominant is. Uit verder onderzoek is gebleken dat deze dominantie voor meer dan 40% erfelijk wordt bepaald.

'Upside-Down Brilliance; the visual spatial learner', Dr. Linda Kreger Silverman, 2002


" The visual-spatial learner model is based on the newest discoveries in brain research about the different functions of the hemispheres. The left hemisphere is sequential, analytical, and time-oriented. The right hemisphere perceives the whole, synthesizes, and apprehends movement in space. We only have two hemispheres, and we are doing an excellent job teaching one of them. We need only become more aware of how to reach the other, and we will have happier students, learning more effectively.

I'd like to share with you how the visual-spatial learner idea originated. Around 1980, I began to notice that some highly gifted children took the top off the IQ test with their phenomenal abilities to solve items presented to them visually or items requiring excellent abilities to visualize. These children were also adept at spatial tasks, such as orientation problems. Soon I discovered that not only were the highest scorers outperforming others on the visual-spatial tasks, but so were the lowest scorers. The main difference between the two groups was that highly gifted children also excelled at the auditory-sequential items, whereas children who were brighter than their IQ scores had marked auditory and sequential weaknesses. It was from these clinical observations and my attempt to understand both the strengths and weaknesses that the concept of the "visual-spatial learner" was born.

Visual-spatial learners are individuals who think in pictures rather than in words. They have a different brain organization than auditory-sequential learners. They learn better visually than auditorally. They learn all-at-once, and when the light bulb goes on, thelearning is permanent. They do not learn from repetition and drill. They are whole-part learners who need to see the big picture first before they learn the details. They are nonsequential, which means that they do not learn in the step-by-step manner in which most teachers teach. They arrive at correct solutions without taking steps, so “show your work”  may be impossible for them. They may have difficulty with easy tasks, but show amazing ability with difficult, complex tasks. They are systems thinkers who can orchestrate large amounts of information from different domains, but they often miss the details. They tend to be organizationally impaired and unconscious about time. They are often gifted creatively, technologically, mathematically or emotionally.

Parents can tell if they have one of these children by the endless amount of time they spend doing advanced puzzles, constructing with LEGOs, etc., completing mazes, counting everything, playing Tetris on the computer, playing chess, building with any materials at hand, designing scientific experiments, programming your computer, or taking apart everything in the house to see how it operates. They also are very creative, dramatic, artistic and musical.

At the Gifted Development Center, we have been exploring the visual-spatial learner phenomenon for over 3 decades. We have developed strategies for working effectively with these children, guidance for parents on living with visual-spatial learners, and techniques to help visual-spatial students learn successfully through their strengths. Over a period of nine years, a multi-disciplinary team created the Visual-Spatial Identifier—a simple, 15-item checklist to help parents and teachers find these children. There are two forms of the Identifier: a self-rating questionnaire and an observer form, which is completed by parents or teachers. The Visual-Spatial Identifier has been translated into Spanish. With the help of two grants from the Morris S. Smith Foundation, the two instruments have been validated on 750 fourth, fifth and sixth graders. In this research, one-third of the school population emerged as strongly visual-spatial. An additional 30% showed a slight preference for the visual-spatial learning style. Added together, nearly two-thirds have a visual-spatial preference. Only 23% (less than one-fourth) were strongly auditory-sequential. These validation studies were conducted in urban and rural settings, in which over 40% of the children were Hispanic. In one study, 69% of Native American children preferred the visual-spatial learning style. This suggests that a substantial percentage of the school population would learn better using visual-spatial methods. "