Schooling is often presented in a ‘one-size-fits-all’ kind of manner – it’s very difficult for teachers to tailor teaching to a variety of styles. However, there’s a good reason why this doesn’t work for everyone: there are different learning styles. Different learners have a set of unique characteristics, which directly influences the ways these people can best learn information and therefore perform at school tasks. So, what are some of the different types of learners?
There are several theories of learning styles. One well-known theory is the multiple intelligence theory by Howard Gardner, which puts forth seven learning styles:
- Visual (spatial): these learners might prefer to draw or doodle their ideas out on the page or in a visual way. Visual-spatial learners often learn well by note-taking, which uses colour-coding or mind maps. These learners are able to memorise information best when it is shown through images, relying on their visual memory.
- Aural: these learners might prefer not to learn through reading. These people learn best when they hear information, and in learning information, they often benefit greatly from discussions. Aural learners are great at noticing audible changes.
- Verbal (linguistic): these are learners who have a great affinity for words and for writing. People with this learning style would benefit from using word tricks like mnemonics to memorise information.
- Physical (kinaesthetic): these learners don’t do well being confined to a classroom. Instead, they learn best when they are being active, using their hands or body to understand how to do something. Physical learners are active people, who don’t like to sit and listen or read for overly long periods of time.
- Logical (mathematical): these learners love numbers and are particularly adept at logical and mathematical reasoning. If you see patterns in anything and are great at classifying information into groups, you might very well be a logical-mathematical learner.
- Social (interpersonal): these learners are very skilled at communication and socialising – they are finely attuned to other people. This means that they will probably excel best in situations where they are able to work with others, and not just alone.
- Intrapersonal: this is a more introspective, solitary style. These learners prefer to learn privately, and may benefit from ensuring that they have a study space which is quiet and where they are unlikely to be interrupted.
Others have focused on the three main categories of learning styles:
- Visual: processes information through images, graphics, charts, or graphs. Often said to be the most common style, so this is often catered to by traditional education.
- Auditory: processes information when it is heard, or by talking things through.
- Kinaesthetic: processes information through recreating or practising. Often said to be the least common style, or at least the style which is helped least by traditional education or schooling.
In tutoring, I have often asked students to identify which of the three main categories they best fit in. This is very helpful as I can tailor my teaching styles to meet each style.
How can you identify which learning style you have?
First of all, it may be evident to you from the above descriptions which style you have. But many of us have a mixture of more than one style, so can benefit from learning about them all. If it’s not clear, why not check out an online quiz which could give you a score on which of the main three learning styles you prefer. Check out this test or this test to learn more.
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