Advertising
Advertising

Last Updated on March 31, 2020

The 7 Types of Learners: What Kind of Learner Am I?

The 7 Types of Learners: What Kind of Learner Am I?

We all know that one friend who doesn’t have to study, or even look at any of the material until the morning of the test. And then, almost miraculously, they ace it!

If you aren’t in school anymore, then there’s a good chance you have a colleague who spends half the time you do preparing for a meeting and yet seems to carry the conversation without a hitch, while you find yourself stammering. It’s a frustrating occurrence that can often cause jealousy and resentment toward people we would typically care about.

But it turns out that it may simply be a reflection of their awareness of what type of learner you are.

Everyone has a specific learning style that is most efficient for them. Maybe you refer to yourself as a visual learner – according to some studies, as many as 65% of people who make up the population do. These individuals use pictures and other imagery to learn and retain information.[1]

The friend from earlier, the one who can seemingly just show up to a test and know the answers? They’re probably an aural learner, and retained most all of what was audibly taught in the class. It isn’t that they don’t care about doing well in their studies, but rather that reading and studying visually would be borderline useless – they learned everything they needed to through listening.

7 Different Types of Learning Styles You Should Know

Perhaps you always aced those tests, too, but it didn’t feel as fulfilling since your friend didn’t study to attain the same grade, but you were up all night reading and re-reading your flash cards.

Advertising

Neither of you did anything wrong; it just so happens that you’re a visual learner and that’s how you attain the information. Or is it?

Many of us assume we are visual learners because it seems to make sense. And with such a high statistic boasting that title, it’s a fair assumption. Plus, think about the things we remember day-to-day. Most of it comes from what we read or saw through social media or experience. But how do we determine our style for sure?

While there isn’t solid research suggesting we can sleep on books to absorb the words, there are still up to seven types of learning styles that you can identify with to help you know how to turn studying and preparation into an easy task.

All of the styles can be mixed with each other, but picking and choosing can become pretty overwhelming. Looking at the list below, I would assume I’m a visual learner first and foremost, but I’d probably toss in some verbal and social styles, too.

  1. Visual (spatial): You prefer using pictures, images, and spatial understanding.
  2. Aural (auditory, musical): You prefer using sound and music.
  3. Verbal (linguistic): You prefer using words, both in speech and writing.
  4. Physical (kinesthetic): You prefer using your body, hands.
  5. Logical (mathematical): You prefer using logic, reasoning, and systems.
  6. Social (interpersonal): You prefer to learn in groups or with other people.
  7. Solitary (Intrapersonal): You prefer to work alone and use self-study.”[2]

The Learning Style You Hold on to May Not Be the Best for You

I wanted to narrow my focus, so I took a test to help me determine what learning style(s) is best for me. This test is easy and helps takers understand how they learn best (based on the Memletics Learning Styles Questionnaire):[3]

As it turns out, my score was highest for verbal learning. I’m not surprised about it because when I can work things out by speaking out loud, or explaining it to someone else, it sticks with me.

Advertising

Using the Right Style Makes Your Learning More Efficient

Even if you are out of school, knowing how you learn can still help you lead an efficient life. Now that I’ve seen these scores, I can apply a verbal style to solve problems and retain information. I can also go forward knowing that no one in the world learns exactly as I do, and that’s something important to be aware of and respect. I can certainly apply this knowledge in my day-to-day life in my career.

Did your results surprise you? Why or why not?

Even if you assumed you were a verbal learner, and the quiz verified that, are you doing everything you can in your life to learn via that style? After all, just knowing a term doesn’t necessarily equip you to know what to do with it going forward. So let’s dig a little deeper.

Learning Approaches for Different Learners

Once you’ve identified the learning styles that pertain to you, it’s important to know how to learn using those methods:

Visual Learners

Visual Learners should use color, layouts, and spatial organization in their associations. Mind maps and diagrams are also especially helpful. Visual Learners should also highlight key terms and phrases as often as they see fit; the color will help them remember that information later.

Check out How to Use Visual Learning to Learn Effectively.

Advertising

Social Learners

Social Learners should aim to work with groups often. If in school, a study group would be ideal. If in a career, a social learner would want heavy focus on collaborative meetings and workshops. Another technique would be peer reviewing others’ works and ideas.

With social learners, it’s all about interaction.

Physical Learners

Physical Learners are all about touch and movement. If you’ve ever interacted with an engineer, it probably didn’t take long to learn that they love taking things apart and putting them back together. This is a physical technique to help them learn how things work and why.

Flashcards also help physical learners, because although it’s technically a visual aid, touching and moving the cards is physical. When it comes to note taking, describing the physical feelings of your actions is ideal.

Aural Learners

Aural Learners use sound, rhyme, and music. Sound recordings and are great, as they help focus on using aural content for associations and visualization. Aural learners, depending on how often they practice the technique, can typically recall all information associated with a sound simply by thinking of the sound – they don’t have to hear it.

Verbal Learners

Verbal Learners should focus on techniques that rely on speaking and writing. Similar to Aural learning, Verbal Learners should make the most of word-based techniques like rhyme and rhythm. Mnemonics, especially acronym mnemonics that use first letters of the words are helpful for this style of learning, as well as scripting.

Advertising

Verbal Learners not only read content aloud to remember it, but make it dramatic and varied to ensure it sticks with them.

Solitary Learners

Solitary Learners need quiet time and the ability to study on their own. It’s important for Solitary Learners to grasp the end goal and why it should be important for them. Defining goals, objectives, and plans helps these learners define ultra-clear objectives.

Keeping a log or journal can help Solitary Learners outline ideas and connect personally to the topic at hand.

Logical Learners

Logical Learners aim to understand the reasoning behind things. Truly grasping the details behind content helps the material to be memorable. When studying, Logical Learners should use lists and statistics. Association can work well, too, as long as it’s illogical. Though this may seem counterintuitive, the illogicality of it helps the Logical Leaner call it to mind. Not surprisingly, these learners may sometimes overanalyze certain things that can lead to a mental block. If this happens, it’s important to refocus on what propels you closer to your goal.[4]

The Bottom Line

Knowing more about Learning Styles and which apply to you, I challenge you to approach tasks in a way that is most efficient for your style. Suddenly you may seem like the one who doesn’t have to put so much effort into acing everything you attempt!

More Learning Tips

Featured photo credit: Debbie Tea via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] Faculty Development: Successfully Using Visual Aids in Your Presentation
[2] learning-styles-online.com: The Seven Learning Styles
[3] Memletics: Learning Styles Questionnaire
[4] learning-styles-online.com: The Logical (Mathematical) Learning Style

More by this author

Heather Poole

Heather shares about everyday lifestyle tips on Lifehack.

How To Find Your Personal Values For Living a Fulfilling Life The 7 Types of Learners: What Kind of Learner Am I? What If All the Choices You Make Every Day Aren’t What You Need Most? What To Eat (And Not To Eat) When You Are Suffering From Inflammation! Yes Life Can Be Boring Sometimes. But There’re Some Tricks to Make It More Interesting

Trending in Learning

1 A Comprehensive Guide to a Smart Learning Process 2 12 Learning Strategies to Help You Retain Information Fast 3 How to Become an Intentional Learner for Never-Ending Growth 4 7 Characteristics of a Smart Auditory Learner 5 How Do Memory Vitamins Work? (And the Best Brain Supplements)

Read Next

Advertising
Advertising
Advertising

Last Updated on July 24, 2020

A Comprehensive Guide to a Smart Learning Process

A Comprehensive Guide to a Smart Learning Process

One of the most crucial aspects of our lives is the ability to learn. We often take this skill for granted since not many of us pause and think about our learning process. In fact, if we did, we would probably uncover that we engage in ineffective learning mechanisms.

Think about it. Has your learning helped you recall things you learned last month? Go back a year and ponder.

A lot of how we learn was tucked away in school. Our exposure to school learning is the basis of how we learn moving forward. However, over the past few decades, learning has evolved into different stages of learning, and that becomes the main issue.

No longer are we looking at examinations of people’s characteristics about understanding and learning. Instead, scholars have created learning processes that use materials that support our interactions with others and our goals.

As a result, we can learn new things more smartly and effectively – which will be covered as we proceed further in understanding the learning process.

The Essential Steps of the Learning Process

In his book Outliers: The Story of Success, Malcolm Gladwell states that the key to success is for us to practice 10,000 hours on a specific skill. It’s also worth noting that the skill needs the correct learning direction. If you’re learning how to do something the wrong way, you’ll continue to use it the wrong way.

But before understanding the learning process, we must understand the stages of learning. Written in the 1970s, Noel Burch created a model called the Four Stages of Learning. [1]

From there, we can use the stages of learning as a basis for how to learn effectively.

1. Unconscious Incompetence

Think of a skill that you are good at and that you use every single day.

Now think back to when you first developed that skill. Were you good at it? Probably not.

Advertising

You never heard of the skill or had a desire to learn of it until that point. This is the first stage: You know nothing about it.

2. Conscious Incompetence

Once you have heard of the skill, you begin to delve into it.

Driving a car is a perfect example. Before this stage, you never felt the need to learn how to drive. Nevertheless, once you became of legal age, you had to study to get your license. You likely made several mistakes on the driving test as well as during the written test.

This is the stage where you feel learning is slow, and you’re also aware of your mistakes.

3. Conscious Competence

By this stage, you know pretty much everything you need to know. At the same time, though, you are also aware that you need to focus and concentrate on what you are doing.

This stage can be that you know the rules of the road and can drive well. However, you feel you can’t talk to anyone, play any music, or look away from the road. You feel like you need total silence to focus and concentrate on driving.

At this stage, learning can be even slower than the previous stages. The learning isn’t consistent, nor is it a habit yet.

4. Unconscious Competence

By this stage, you’ve made it. You know everything in and out about the skill. It’s become a habit, and you don’t need to concentrate. You can relax and let your unconscious mind take over.

Exceeding the 4 Stages: Flow/Mastery

While Burch only covered four stages, there is another stage that exceeds it. This is the flow or mastery stage.

You may have heard of something called a flow state. [2] It’s the mental state where someone is performing an activity and is fully immersed in it. They feel energized, focused, and get a sense of joy from doing this activity.

Advertising

Flow or mastery can stem from all kinds of activities like Writing, reading, jogging, biking, figure skating, and more. It’s also characterized as complete absorption in what you’re doing, making you unaware of space and time.

Different Types of Learning Process

Another aspect of the learning process is the types of learning. While every person goes through those stages of learning, how we learn is different.

Having covered four learning styles in 4 Learning Styles to Help You Learn Faster and Smarter, I’m recapping the different types of learning in psychology.

Psychiatrists have narrowed how we learn down to seven learning styles as below:

  • Visual (spatial): Learning through pictures, graphs, charts, etc.
  • Aural (auditory-musical): Learning through sound and music.
  • Verbal (linguistic): Learning through spoken or written words.
  • Physical (kinesthetic): Learning through the body, hands, and a sense of touch.
  • Logical (mathematical): Learning through logic, systems, and reasons.
  • Social (interpersonal): Learning through groups or talking to people.
  • Solitary (intrapersonal): Learning individually through self-study or individual assignments.

You may be asking why all of this matters and actually how we learn plays a significant role. How we internally represent experiences stems from how we learn. What we learn not only establishes how we recall information but also impacts our own word choice.

It also influences which part of our brain we use for learning. Researchers uncovered this through various experiments.[3]

For example, say you’re driving to a place you’ve never gone before. How you learn will determine which method of learning you’ll use. Some will ask people for directions, while others will pull up Google maps. Some will write the directions out, while some won’t and merely follow street signs.

Knowing how to learn to this depth is vital because once you know what style you use, you can then develop a learning process to be a more effective learner.

How To Become an Effective Learner?

The learning process varies from person to person. Generally speaking, though, consider the following steps and considerations:

1. Improve Your Memory

Learning doesn’t only require that we learn information, but to retain it. If we are to learn something, we will have to learn and relearn. This means recalling and having a sharp memory to keep that information.

Advertising

Improving our memory can range from a variety of things. From memory palaces to practicing other memory improvement tactics.

2. Keep Learning and Practicing New Things

Learning a new skill takes time, but there is nothing wrong with learning a few other things. International Journal of Science – Nature: Changes in grey matter induced by training[4] reported that those who juggled between learning different topics increase their gray matter which is associated with visual memory

3. Learn in Many Ways

While we have our own go-to style, delving into other types and stages of learning can be useful. If you learn by listening to podcasts, why not try rehearsing information verbally or visually?

It will not start great, but by improving your skill to describe what you learned orally, you are further cementing the knowledge in your mind.

Judy Willis MD, M.Ed in her publication on Review of Research: Brain-Based Teaching Strategies for Improving Students’ Memory, Learning, and Test-Taking Success[5] states how the more regions we keep data stored, the more interconnection there is in the collection information that we later process.

4. Teaching What You Learned to Others

It doesn’t have to be in a tutoring situation, but this method is still a reliable way for two people to grow.

Regardless of learning styles, we retain the information we tell others more effectively than if we keep it to ourselves. Was there a random fact you told someone a few months ago? You are more likely to remember that information because you brought it up to someone.

5. Use Relational Learning

Relational learning is relating new information to things you already know.

A typical example of this is remembering someone’s name. You can better recall that person’s name if you associate that name to something or someone familiar.

6. Gaining Practical Experience

Nothing beats learning than trying it for yourself. Sure, seeing information does have its strong points -and most learning styles benefit from exposed information – there is something to be said about getting your “hands dirty.”

Advertising

7. Refer Back to past Info If Need Be

The learning process is not perfect. We’ll forget at certain points. If you ever struggle to remember something, make a point of going back to your notes.

This is key because if we try recalling, we risk ourselves learning or relearning the wrong answer. And again, there is a difference between learning the right way and the wrong way.

8. Test Yourself

While this step may seem odd, there are benefits to testing yourself. Even if you think you know everything about the topic, going back and testing yourself can always help.

Not only does testing improve our recall, but we may realize that we learned a concept or task incorrectly. That knowledge can enhance our effectiveness in the future.

9. Stop Multitasking

While we should be learning new things all the time, we shouldn’t be trying to do several tasks at once. We ought to focus on one activity at a time before moving onto other tasks.

By trying to multitask, we are learning less effectively and are only hindering ourselves. Check out how multitasking is merely another way of distracting ourselves.

Bottom Line

Psychologists define learning as the process of a permanent change in a person’s behavior resulting from experience. The understanding of the learning process is up to us, but do consider the bigger picture. Be aware of what style works best for you, and work to improve it while enhancing other learning styles. The only way we can advance a skill is to learn continuously. Even in the skills you have mastered, there are always new developments.

You can learn more about how you can cultivate lifelong learning and attain an edge in every niche that you get associated with today!

Featured photo credit: Aliis Sinisalu via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] Gordon Training International: The Four Stages of Competence
[2] Habits for Wellbeing: Flow: the Secret to Happiness: Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi
[3] Training Industry: How the Brain Learns
[4] International Journal of Science – Nature: Changes in grey matter induced by training
[5] Judy Willis MD, M.Ed: Review of Research: Brain-Based Teaching Strategies for Improving Students’ Memory, Learning, and Test-Taking Success

Read Next