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Last Updated on March 11, 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.

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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!

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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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Last Updated on March 25, 2020

How to Learn Quickly And Master Any Skill You Want

How to Learn Quickly And Master Any Skill You Want

Have you ever heard of the idiom ‘practice makes perfect’? I’m pretty sure someone would have said that to you at least once in your life! It’s a common saying, often used to encourage someone when they’re learning or doing something that is new to them.

They may need many tries before succeeding and getting it right. It’s like learning to ride a bicycle, learning how to drive, taking up a second language, or cooking for the first time. It’s rare for anyone to ace it on their first try.

Whenever you want to start learning something new, I’m sure you’re always hoping to get good at it quickly. But the reality is, that sometimes it does take days, months or even years before you can confidently master a skill.

That’s simply how learning works. You try, you gain experience, you learn from it, and you try again. And each time, you’re improving and making progress. Every time you repeat this learning process, you’re going through something called a Feedback Loop. You’ll have to go through multiple feedback loops before confidently executing the skill.

What separates a fast learner from a slower learner is not some innate, natural talent. Instead, it’s because the fast learner understands how they learn, and has a systematic way to apply it all the time to learn a variety of things. They know how to effectively use their Feedback Loop to speed up the learning process.

So the good news for you, is that if you’re currently wanting to learn a new skill as quickly as possible, then you just need to learn how to create an effective Feedback Loop.

What is a Feedback Loop?

When we talk about feedback, it simple means getting information about how well you’re performing each time you make an attempt at practicing or applying a skill. Feedback is what tells you what went wrong, or what went right.

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A Feedback Loop is made up of 3 stages:

  1. Practice / Apply – This is the stage where you put what you want to learn into action.
  2. Measure – This is the stage where you’re acquiring information about your performance. This is also the stage that is most ignored… or done ineffectively.
  3. Learn – This is the stage where you analyze how well you performed, and make adjustments to improve and practice/apply again.

It’s important to recognize these 3 stages and put them into place each time you practice a new skill.

Many people only have Stage 1 completed, and a very unclear or fuzzy process for Stage 2, which leads to poor results in Stage 3.

A good, smooth cycle will help you continuously make improvements with each loop, creating steady progress and upgrading your understanding of the skill.

How to Have an Effective Feedback Loop

To make sure your Feedback Loop is effective, you will have to look at 3 key factors: Consistency, Speed, and Accuracy.

1. Be Consistent

Being consistent means having a regular way to get the same quality of feedback. You need to be able to compare every practice or learning experience in order to measure, learn and make adjustments. If your feedback is not consistent, then you’re going to have a hard time knowing what went wrong or what went right.

For example, say you’re learning to play the guitar. If you play a different song every time you practice, you’re going to get very inconsistent feedback. Because the difficulty, rhythm, and pace of every song is different, you won’t have a reliable way to compare how well you played the current song versus the last. So, the best way to learn would be to play the same song over and over again until you get to a certain proficiency.

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Seems obvious in this case, but it’s just an example. A lot of times learning is hard because we don’t focus on keeping with a consistent environment or actions.

2. Be Quick

Let’s move on to the second factor: speed. Having speedy or fast feedback is important because the longer it takes to get feedback, the longer it will take to improve on the skill. That’s why some people spend a tremendous amount of time practicing, but make very slow progress.

On the other hand, the best forms of feedback are almost instantaneous. The shorter the time it takes for one Feedback Loop to complete, the better. This is because you’ll have more attempts, which means more improvements within the same timespan.

So, the key to getting fast feedback is to take the skill or knowledge and break it down. Try to breakdown the skill into different components. They could be broken down into steps, subskills or processes, or even by difficulty.

For example, if the skill you want to learn involves a sequence (ie: there is a step by step process), you can break your learning down by each step. Create a Feedback Loop for each step individually instead of the whole process. Isolate the processes into different parts that you can focus and work on individually.

Let’s say you’re learning to cook. You can break this skill into steps, such as finding fresh and suitable ingredients, preparing and handling the ingredients, preparing condiments and sauces, serving and plating, etc.

Or let’s say you’d like to learn how to play soccer. You can identify the sub-skills that make up the larger learning techniques to playing soccer, and create feedback loops for each of them individually. So you could start by learning how to dribble the ball, followed by passing, and then shooting.

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The third and final factor to an effective Feedback Loop, is Accuracy. This means having feedback that actually reflects your performance accurately. Since you’re relying on feedback to tell you what and where to improve on the next time, this is very important. This is why measuring feedback is a key skill to have for an effective Feedback Loop.

3. Be Accurate

Obtaining accuracy in feedback becomes a common weak point for many learners, because it’s not always easy to define what “accuracy” means.

To get accurate feedback, we have to have a way of measuring it. The reason why we sometimes get poor feedback is because we’re trying to measure our progress without quantifying our performance. Or, we’re using the wrong metrics to quantify the feedback. Worse yet, it might just be that you were never measuring or recording your performance at all! Can you recall yourself being in a similar situation?

In order to find areas for improvement, you have to be able to compare your current performance with your previous performance. This is so that you have a baseline, or something to measure up against, to look for room for improvements.

Quantifying is a way to accurately measure your performance. Quantifying something means attaching a number to it. This helps to give objectivity and consistency when comparing two things. Quantifying feedback can give you constructive information that will help you improve during each cycle of the feedback loop.

Let’s say you’re practicing how to dribble a basketball. The first time you dribble, your coach tells you you’re doing a good job. The second time round, you get better and your coach affirms you by saying you’ve done a great job! Sure, your dribbling skill has improved–you know it, your coach knows it, but by how much? And how can you further improve your dribbling skills? A good job versus a great job doesn’t indicate how well you’ve performed, and how much better you can perform.

But, now in the second scenario, if you manage to dribble the basketball up and down the court 4 times continuously without letting the ball slip, your coach tells you you’ve done a good job. In the second round, your coach now tells you to dribble the basketball up and down the court 8 times continuously without letting the ball slip. You managed to do that and your coach tells you great job! You can now quantify your improvement by the number of times you were able to dribble the basketball across the court.

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With a quantity attached to your performance, you’re now able to push yourself further by learning to dribble 16 times or more across the basketball court. You can even add in new obstacles like having to dribble across the court with an opponent trying to snatch your basketball. If you’re successful, you can try dribbling across the court with 2 opponents snatching your basketball, so on and so forth. You’re now able to easily quantify your improvement.

Continuously Improve Your Feedback Loop!

So now that you’re familiar with the Feedback Loop, are you ready to put it into practice? What’s a new skill that you’d like to start on?

Try implementing every stage of the Feedback Loop when learning this new skill and see for yourself, whether your learning improves at a quicker rate.

It is essential to continuously improve your Feedback Loop in order to keep up your momentum, and avoid running into the law of diminishing returns. Improving your Feedback Loop means knowing what to measure next, and what questions to ask, to find out.

In fact, the technique you’ve learned from this article is only part of our Learning Course. If you’d like to discover more gems that will help you speed up your learning and push yourself towards the goals that you’ve been striving for, check out our Learn Anything Fast Course.

Or you can find out more learning tips in these articles:

Featured photo credit: Adeolu Eletu via unsplash.com

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