A textbook definition of learning styles is “characteristic cognitive, effective, and psycho-social behaviors that serve as relatively stable indicators of how learners perceive, interact with, and respond to the learning environment.”
That’s a fancy way of saying that different individuals interact with their learning environment in different ways. You’ll often see about learning styles in conjunction with teacher education and other types of cognitive learning courses. The theory is that, if the teacher is aware of the various ways in which people perceive information, they can differentiate the instruction to meet those needs.
To the casual learner (or the person who is trying to improve their life), understanding your learning style can help you find the best way to learn new information. There are seven different learning styles and everybody uses a little of each one (on a sliding scale).
In this article we will talk about how many different learning styles there are (and what they mean), get you to try the learning style quiz and find out how to use your specific learning style to improve your life.
Table of Contents
The Seven Learning Styles
The following is an overview of the various learning styles:
- Visual (spatial). A visual learner thinks in pictures. They prefer having illustrations, pictures, and other types of images to help form a mental image of what they are learning. Visual learners are typically spatial thinkers.
- Aural (auditory-musical). An aural learner learns through music and rhythm. While actual music isn’t necessarily required to reach an aural learner, it certainly is more effective.
- Verbal (linguistic). A verbal learner prefers using words, both in speech and in reading. A person with this learning style might prefer a good lecture or textbook to more visual and auditory styles.
- Physical (kinesthetic). A physical learner prefers using their body, hands, and sense of touch. A person with this learning style is more of a “hands-on” learner who prefers to learn by doing.
- Logical (mathematical). A logical learner prefers information to flow from one thought or idea to the next. A person with this learning style prefers mathematics, logic, and reasoning.
- Social (interpersonal). A social learner prefers to learn in groups or through social interaction. A person with this learning style usually prefers group-work and project-based learning.
- Solitary (intrapersonal). A solitary learner prefers to work alone. People with this learning style are great at teaching themselves and often prefer self-study and online courses to more traditional learning methods.
Did you see yourself in more than one learning style? If so, then you understand that no one person has just one learning style. Each of the above styles exist in everybody to a certain degree.
One person might find a certain learning style emerge as the strongest (and, thus, more preferred). However, that does not mean that person cannot learn in one of the other ways listed.
Learning Styles and the Brain
Learning styles influence and guide the way you learn. They affect the way you internally represent your experiences, remember information or even the words you choose.
Research suggests that each learning style makes use of a different part of the brain. Here is the breakdown for each learning style:
- Visual: Visual learners use the occipital and parietal lobes at the back of the brain.
- Aural: Aural content is mostly processed through the temporal lobes (especially the right temporal lobe for music).
- Verbal: Verbal content is processed through the temporal and frontal lobes.
- Kinesthetic: Kinesthetic learning is processed using the cerebellum and the motor cortex.
- Logical: Logical learning is processed through the parietal lobes (specifically using the left side of the brain as it pertains to logical thinking).
- Social: Social learning happens in the frontal and temporal lobes.
The Learning Style Quiz
This quiz: Multiple Intelligences Self-Assessment consists of 24 questions and will take around five minutes to complete. It is one of the best online learning style quizzes I’ve found because of its simplicity and ease of use.
You basically answer a handful of questions, and it will spit out your results in a small graphic and tell you what percentage you are in each learning style category. When taking the quiz, try not to overthink a question. Just go with your gut.
When you’ve finished the quiz, your results will look like this:
If I am interpreting results of my quiz, it appears that I prefer linguistic and intrapersonal learning experiences. Essentially it means that I learn best when I’m working alone, and my preferred method of learning is through verbal means (i.e. written or lecture-based).
Look at your results and decide which type you are (visual, kinesthetic, or aural) and how you prefer to learn (interpersonal or intrapersonal). The rest is just details. You can also look at the areas you are weaker in and try to strengthen your ability to learn in those ways.
How to Use the Learning Style Quiz to Improve Your Life
Perhaps you didn’t realize that people had different learning styles before you read this article. Maybe you already knew about learning styles.
Whatever the case, you can learn a lot about yourself just by taking this short learning styles quiz. But what do you do with the knowledge you get from the results?
If you are:
- Visual Learner. Ditch the audio-books and podcasts and either read or watch lectures online. Your strength is found in visual explanation — seeing the information in a book, diagram, or demonstration.
- Auditory Learner. Talk with other people and listen to podcasts or audio-books. Your strength is found in aural cues — hearing the information with your own two ears.
- Kinesthetic Learner. Forget about the classroom or online courses. Go out and find a way to learn using a hands-on approach. Take a class at your local community college and get involved with what you are learning about.
Also be aware that most of the learning styles can fit into one of those three categories. You are essentially going to be one of these three types of learning styles paired with an interpersonal or intrapersonal preference. In other words, you either like working with others or you don’t.
Have you taken the learning style quiz yet? If not, here is the link again.
If you spend just five to ten minutes on this quiz, it may give you insight into learning styles that will change your life.
Maybe you were a bad student in school and didn’t realize that this had something to do with it. If you were a kinesthetic learner, for example, you probably hated school with a passion. Use this information to grow in knowledge and, thus, improve the overall quality of your life.
Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com
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