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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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

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Heather Poole

Heather shares about everyday lifestyle tips on Lifehack.

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Published on April 15, 2021

9 Steps to Make Self-Regulated Learning More Effective

9 Steps to Make Self-Regulated Learning More Effective

You have probably heard of the saying, “Give a man a fish, and he eats for a day. Teach a man to fish, and he eats for a lifetime.”

That old cliché gets thrown around quite a bit in educational circles, but what really goes into inspiring people to become independent, lifelong learners? Read on to learn more about self-regulated learning and how to make it more effective.

Self-Regulated Learning

One theory about teaching people how to learn is through self-regulated learning. In the broadest sense, it’s the idea that individuals should set their own learning goals and work independently and with a sense of agency and autonomy to achieve those goals. It’s the opposite of a teacher handing out a worksheet and students completing it just because the teacher told them to.

Self-regulated learning is constructive and self-directed.[1] Instead of the worksheet example, self-regulated learning involves the students setting their own learning goals, deciding how to best achieve those goals, and then systematically and strategically working toward them. Teaching strategies like the Workshop Model and Portfolios are more aligned with self-regulated learning than a one-size-fits-all worksheet or lecture.

Workshop Model

The workshop model consists of three parts. Class begins with a mini-lesson, then students spend time working independently while the teacher circulates conferencing with students. Finally, the class ends with some kind of summary derived from what students learned through their independent work.

Heavy hitters in the workshop model are Lucy Calkins and Nancie Atwell.[2][3] Their work has been instrumental in spreading best practices so that teachers know how to create truly student-led learning experiences.[4]

Portfolios

Another example of an instruction that’s moving toward self-regulated learning is student portfolios. Students set learning goals and periodically reflect on whether or not they’re achieving those goals. They keep all their reflections and student work in folders and have periodic conferences with their teacher on how they’re pressing toward their goals.[5]

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The problem though is that the workshop model and portfolios require a different mindset and skillset from teachers. That’s where the theory of self-regulated learning comes in.

3 Elements of Self-Regulated Learning

One approach to self-regulated learning is to break it down into three components: regulation of processing modes, regulation of the learning process, and regulation of self. Dividing self-regulated learning in this way helps teachers know how to best help students work toward their individual goals, and it also gives us a glimpse into how we all can become more self-regulated learners.

1. Regulation of Processing Modes

The first step in self-regulated learning is to give learners a choice in how and why they’re learning in the first place.

In our worksheet example, students are completing the task because the teacher said so, but when we reset why we’re learning in the first place, we’re starting to create a foundation for self-regulated learning.

One educational researcher, Noel Entwistle makes a distinction between three different reasons for learning, and his work makes what we’re all working toward a lot clearer. Students can try to reproduce or memorize information, they can try to get good grades, or they can seek personal understanding or meaning.[6]

The goal of self-regulated learning is to encourage students to move away from the first two learning orientations (following orders and trying to get good grades) and move toward the third, learning for some kind of intrinsic gain—learning to learn.

2. Regulation of Learning Process

The next level of self-regulated learning is when students are in charge of their own learning process. This is also known as metacognition. Studies have shown that when teachers do most of the heavy lifting—deciding what’s working and not working for each student—there’s a reduction in students’ metacognitive skills.[7]

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When I was teaching middle and high school, we had a saying that if we left the building at the end of the school day more tired than the students, we hadn’t done our job. What that means is that teachers have to find a way to get students to do the heavy lifting of metacognition—thinking about thinking. And students need to accept the challenge and become curious about what’s working and not working about their individualized and (at least, partially) self-generated learning plans.

Boosting metacognition might include learning about how the brain works, what metacognition is all about, and all the different learning styles. Becoming curious about your individual strengths and learning preferences is crucial in beefing up your metacognitive skills.

3. Regulation of Self

Finally, there’s goal setting. If students are going to become truly self-regulated learners, they have to start setting their own goals and then reflecting on their progress toward those goals.

How to Make Self-Regulated Learning More Effective

Now that you’ve learned the important elements of self-regulated learning, here are 9 ways you can make it more effective for you.

1. Change Your Mindset About Learning

The first way to become a self-regulated learner is to change your mindset about why you’re learning in the first place. Instead of doing your schoolwork because the teacher says so or because you want the highest GPA, try to move toward learning to satisfy your curiosity. Learn because you want to learn.

Sometimes, this will be easy, like when you’re learning something on your own that you’ve self-selected. Other times, it’s tougher, like when you have a teacher-selected assignment due.

Before mindlessly completing your assignment, try to find “your in.” Find what’s fascinating about the topic and cling to that as you complete it. Sure, you need to complete it to graduate, but by finding the morsel that’s interesting to you, you’ll be able to start experiencing a more self-regulated kind of learning.

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2. Explore Different Learning Styles

There are lots of different ways to learn: auditory, visual, spatial, and kinesthetic. Learn what all those styles mean and which ones feel especially effective for you.

3. Learn How Learning Works

Another great way to become a more self-regulated learner is to learn how learning works. Read up on cognitive science and psychology to figure out how we form memories, how we retain information, and how our emotions affect our learning. You have to understand the tools you’ve been given before you can wield those tools most optimally.

4. Get Introspective

Now it’s time to get introspective. Do a learning inventory and reflect on when you’ve been most and least successful in your learning.

What’s your best subject? Why? When did you lose interest in a subject? Why? Ask yourself tough questions about how you learn, so you can move forward more strategically.

5. Find Someone to Tell You Like It Is

It’s also helpful to find someone who can be honest about your learning strengths and weaknesses. Find someone you trust who will be honest about your learning progress. If you lack self-awareness about your learning style and abilities, it’s difficult to be a self-regulated learner, so work with someone else to start becoming more self-aware.

6. Set Some SMART Goals

Now it’s time to set some learning goals. SMART goals are specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound. They’re a great way to become a self-regulated learner.[8]

Instead of just saying, “I want to get better at Spanish,” you might set a SMART goal by saying “I want to memorize 100 new Spanish vocabulary words by next week.” Next week, you can test yourself and measure whether or not you’ve achieved your goal.

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It’s difficult to see how we’re progressing and learning when our goal is vague. Setting SMART goals gives you a clear barometer for your learning.

7. Reflect on Your Progress

Goals don’t mean much unless you measure your progress every now and then. Take time to determine whether or not you’ve achieved your SMART learning goals and why or why not you did. Self-reflection is a great way to boost self-awareness, which is a great way to become a self-regulated learner.

8. Find Your Accountability Buddies

Armed with your goals and deadlines, it’s time to find some trustworthy people to help keep you accountable. Now, your learning progress is your responsibility when you’re a self-regulated learner, but it doesn’t hurt to have some friends who know what your goals are. You can turn to this trustworthy group to discuss your learning progress and keep you motivated.

9. Say It Loud and Proud

There’s a phenomenon where we’re more likely to attain our goals when we’ve made them public.[9] Announcing our goals helps hold our feet to the fire. So, figure out a way to make your learning goals known. This might mean telling your accountability buddies, your teacher, or maybe even a social media group.

Just know that you’re more likely to succeed when you’re not the only one who knows what your goals are.

Final Thoughts

Self-regulated learning is learning for learning’s sake. So, change your entire attitude about why you’re learning in the first place. Choose what you want to know more about or start with what interests you most when assigned a topic or project.

Then, set SMART goals and periodically reflect on your progress. Self-awareness is a skill that can be practiced and improved. Make learning your job and your responsibility, and you’ll be well on your way toward becoming a self-regulated learner.

You’ll never need to blame your learning struggles on someone or something else. Instead, you’ll have the self-awareness and abilities to be able to take your learning into your own hands and find a way forward no matter your current situation and limitations.

Featured photo credit: Josefa nDiaz via unsplash.com

Reference

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