EMSE 3230-5230

Science Methods K-12

Learning Styles


The process of teaching and learning involves Learning Styles. Early work in this area was done by Anthony Gregorc in the 1980s. He recognized the following learning styles.

Additional work on these styles was done by Kathleen Butler. More recently, learning styles have been described by W. Kirby and co-workers. The basic learning styles are identified using four colors. This usage is known as the True Colors system.

By understanding the differences between learning styles, the teacher learns to use a variety of techniques to reach all students in the class. We have a tendency to teach and present course material in the way most appropriate to our own personal style of learning. This can lead to conflicts or problems when a teacher is presenting class material in one style and the student is trying to assimilate it using another, different style.

Principal Characteristics of the True Colors System

In the True Colors system, there are four personality types. These are represented by colors and are directly related to teaching and learning styles.  See the references for more details and information.

Gold Type--Traditional Gold

The gold type corresponds to the Concrete Sequential style.

Green Type--Visionary Green

The green type corresponds to the Abstract Sequential style.

Orange Type--Adventurous Orange

The orange type corresponds to the Abstract Random style.

Blue Type--Nurturer Blue

The blue type corresponds roughly to the Concrete Random style.

Relationship between True Colors and Teaching Styles

Gold--your teaching style is Institution Oriented
  • Your classroom is organized with structured routines.
  • Dependable, consistent classroom management.
  • Good students are the building blocks of the future. You feel responsible for their education.
  • Organize learning in step-by-step format.
Green--your teaching style is Subject Oriented
  • You are most proficient when you are free to develop the competence and intelligence of your students.
  • You create new procedures reflecting advances in technology and culture.
  • You enjoy giving students new insights and knowledge gathered from your research.
  • Use cause and effect approach to develop the reasoning ability of students.
Orange--your teaching style is Action Oriented
  • Give students information that is useful immediately.
  • See direct results by using hands-on methods as opposed to theoretical methods.
  • Classroom is dynamic and exciting by using an unstructured, unpredictable approach.
  • Direction is dramatic and spontaneous.
  • Provide a variety of action experiences.
  • Teaching style is dynamic and unplanned.
Blue--your teaching style is Student Oriented
  • Nurturing and supporting the growth of your students.
  • Compassion for others makes it a joy to work with students.
  • Best teaching is when there is a rapport with the students.
  • Use imagination as a teaching tool.
  • Students are involved in the learning process.
  • Best using individualized instruction.
  • Operate a democratic classroom.

Relationship between True Colors and Student Learning Styles

Gold--their student learning style is Structured
  • Work best when course content is structured and clearly defined.
  • Foundations should be presented first before the abstract ideas and concepts are introduced.
  • Work best with rules and directions.
  • Thrives on routine and orderliness--is punctual and dependable.
Green--their student learning style is Independent
  • Work best independently when exposed to the driving force or overall theory behind the subject.
  • New ideas and concepts arouse their curiosity and they enjoy interpreting them before adding them to accumulated knowledge.
  • Logical, theoretical, curious.
  • Learn best independently.
Orange--their student learning style is Competitive
  • Perform well in competition, especially when there is a lot of action.
  • They enjoy games, hands-on activities, fun and excitement.
  • Put learned information to immediate use.
  • Best when applying skills learned in school to the real world.
  • Likes to be on stage--competitive.
Blue--their student learning style is Interactive
  • Work best in an open, interactive atmosphere.
  • Thrive in a humanistic, people-oriented environment.
  • Want the teacher to value them as persons, and respect their feelings.
  • Verbal and good with languages, imaginative and abstract.
  • Social--work best in group settings.
  • Sensitive to rejection and conflict with teachers.

Relationship between True Colors and Student Learning Styles

 Gold TeacherGreen TeacherOrange TeacherBlue Teacher
Gold StudentStudent and teacher maintain great rapport.  Student appreciates the structure and organization provided by the teacher.  Gold student responds to the logical and clearly defined factual style of presentation by Gold teacher.Green teacher may not always meet the needs of Gold student.  Independent thinking of the teacher may not be appreciated by the Gold student.  Gold student may have difficulty in grasping material unless it is presented in concrete ways.Possibly a problematic combination.  Gold student prefers structure and organization while Orange teacher prefers spontaneity and excitement in the classroom.  Gold student strives for perfection and enjoys being validated for neat and accurate work.Gold student responds to Blue teacher if a regular and predictable schedule is maintained.  Gold student will follow the rules but may not exhibit the creativity the Blue teacher is looking for.
Green StudentThis combination work only if Green student is interested in the subject matter and is given freedom to explore ideas.  Unlike the Gold teacher, the Green student is oblivious to rules.  Student needs to understand that the rules are logical and necessary.Green student maintains great rapport and cooperation with Green teachers.  Student appreciates the stimulating and creative classroom environment.Green student needs to be attracted to the subject matter in order to respond well to the classroom environment.  Unlike Orange teacher, Green student values ideas and concepts above immediate action.Green student responds well to the classroom atmosphere of the Blue teacher as long as subject matter and curiosity are continually reinforced.  Unlike Blue teacher, Green student is less concerned about the feelings of others and will express opinions regardless of their effects on others.
Orange StudentGold teacher demands order and appropriate behavior while Orange student needs spontaneity, fun and quick action.  Orange student may react with rebellion or hostility when placed in a Gold classroom atmosphere.Green teacher's classroom has atmosphere of independence and freedom of thought.  Permits Orange students to express their needs and establish their own styles. Green teacher can be perceived as too theoretical by Orange student creating the impression that the teacher is out of touch.Orange student appreciates the atmosphere and freedom of the Orange classroom.  Responds favorably to hands-on approach to learning. Both work together to complete tasks on hand.Blue teacher has empathy for needs of the Orange student.  Orange student may require more hands-on activities, games, etc. than are scheduled by the teacher. 
Blue StudentBlue student follows the rules of Gold teacher as long as they are fair and there is personal consideration.  Blue student cooperates when it is felt that Gold teacher cares for student individuality. Blue student responds to Green classroom atmosphere as long as it is personally relevant and stimulating to a creative imagination.  Unlike the Green teacher, Blue student values feelings and interpersonal communication above ideas and concepts. Combination works well if Orange teacher allows Blue student to be creative and show personal concern.  Student may have difficulty making quick decisions and could have trouble completing tasks.  Orange teacher's direct mode of criticism may not be appreciated.Blue teacher and Blue student have a great level of rapport.  Blue student appreciates fairness, sensitivity and personal concern expressed by Blue teacher.  Blue atmosphere of creativity and social interaction is appreciated by Blue student.

Gregorc, A. F. The Gregorc Style Delineator. (Columbia, CT: Gregorc Associates, Inc., 1985).

Butler, K. Connections: Learning Styles, Levels of Thinking and Multiple Intelligences (Columbia, CT: The Learner's Dimension, 1993).

Kirby, W., L. Kirby, L. Riggs and J. Helliweg. Using your True Colors Knowledge. (http://www.uwsp.edu/education/wkirby/pluralis/TrueColorsUse.htm).

Winning-solutions.com. True Colors Personality Types. (http://www.winning-solutions.com/Trainings/True_Colors/truceolor.html).

Niskanen, J. True Colors and Teaching Styles. (http://www.geocities.com/jeniskanen/), 2004.