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Published on October 16, 2019

How to Know Which Types of Learning Styles Work for You?

How to Know Which Types of Learning Styles Work for You?

One of the biggest realizations I had as a kid is that teaching in school could be hit or miss for students. We all have our own different types of learning styles. Even when I was in study groups, we all had our own ways of uncovering solutions to questions.

It wasn’t only until later in my life did I realize how important it is to know your own learning style. As soon as you know how you learn and the best way to learn, you can better retain information. This information could be crucial to your job, future promotions, and overall excelling in life.

Best of all about this information is that, it’s not hard to figure out what works best for you. There are broad categories of learning styles, so it’s a matter of finding which one we gravitate towards most.

What Are the Types of Learning Styles?

Before we get into the types of learning styles, there’s one thing to know:

We all learn through repetition.

No matter how old you are, studies show that repetition allows us to retain and learn new information.[1] The big question now is what kind of repetition is needed. After all, we all learn and process information differently.

This is where the types of learning styles come in. There are eight in total and there is one or two that we prefer over others. This is important because when reading these learning styles, you’ll feel like you’d prefer a mixture of these styles.

That’s because we do prefer a combination. Though there will be one style that will be more predominate over the others. The key is finding which one it is.

Visual Learning

A visual learner (also known as the spatial learner) excels at deciphering anything visual – typically maps and graphs.

If you are this type of learner, you likely excelled at geometry in math class but struggled with arithmetic and numbers. To this day, you might also struggle with reading and writing to a degree.

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While visual learners are described as “late bloomers,” they are highly imaginative. They also process what they see much faster than what they hear.

Verbal Learning

Verbal learning, on the other hand, is learning through what’s spoken. Verbal learners excel in reading, writing, speaking, and listening. Because of that, they are likely the ones to find thrills in tongue twists, word games, and puns.

They also thoroughly enjoy drama, writing, and speech classes. But give them maps, or challenge them to think outside of the box and they’ll struggle a bit.

Logical Learning

Not to be confused with visual learners, these learners are good at math and logic puzzles. Anything involving numbers or other abstract visual information is where they excel.

They can also analyze cause and effect relationships quite well. Part of that is due to their thinking process being linear.

Another big difference is their need to quantify everything. These people love grouping information, creating specific lists, agendas or itineraries.

They also have a love for strategy games and making calculations in their heads.

Auditory Learning

Similar to verbal learning, this type of learning style focuses on sounds on a deeper level. These people think chronologically and excel more in the step-by-step methods. These are likely the people who will watch Youtube videos to learn or do something the most.

These learners also have a great memory of conversations and love debates and discussions. Chances are likely these people excel at anything oral.

Also as the name suggests, these individuals have great musical talents. They can decern notes, instruments, rhythms and tones. That being said, they will have a tough time interpreting body language, expressions and gestures. This also applies to charts, maps and graphs.

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Social Learning

Otherwise known as the interpersonal learner, their skills are really unique. They don’t particularly excel in classrooms but rather through talking to other people.

These are the people who are excited for group conversations or group projects. Mainly because they are gifted with coming up with ideas and discussing them.

They also have a good understanding of people’s emotions, facial expressions, and relationship dynamics. They are also likely the first people to point out the root causes of communication issues.

Intrapersonal Learning

The reverse of interpersonal learning, these people prefer learning alone. These are the people who love self-study and working alone. Typically, intrapersonal learners are deeply in tune with themselves meaning they know who they are, their feelings, and their own capabilities.

This type of learning style means you love learning something on your own and typically every day. You also have innate skills in managing yourself and indulging in self-reflection.

Physical Learning

Also known as kinesthetic learning, these people love doing things with their hands. These are people who loved pottery or shop class. If you’re a physical learner, you’ll find you have a huge preference in using your body in order to learn.

This means not just pottery or shop class you enjoyed. You may also have loved sports or any other art medium like painting or woodwork. Anything that involved you learning through physical manipulation you enjoyed and excelled at.

Though this doesn’t just apply to direct physical activities. A physical learner may also find that they learn well when both reading on any subject and pacing or bouncing your leg at the same time.

Naturalistic Learning

The final learning style is naturalistic. These are people who process information through patterns in nature. They also apply scientific reasoning in order to understand living creatures.

Not many people may be connected to this one out of the types of learning styles primarily because of those facts. Furthermore, those who excel in this learning end up being farmers, naturalists or scientists.

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These are the people who love everything with nature. They appreciate plants, animals, and rural settings deeply compared to others.

How to Know Which One(s) Suit You Better?

So now that you have an idea of all the types of learning styles we have another question:

Which one(s) are best for you?

As a reminder, all of us learn through a combination of these learning styles. This makes pinpointing these styles difficult since our learning is likely a fusion of two or more of those styles.

Fortunately, there are all kinds of methods to narrow down which learner you are. Let’s explore the most popular one: the VARK model.

VARK Model

Developed by Neil Fleming and David Baume, the VARK model is basically a conversation starter for teachers and learners.[2] It takes the eight types of learning styles above and condenses them into four categories:

  • Visual – those who learn from sight.
  • Auditory – those who learn from hearing.
  • Reading/writing – those who learn from reading and writing.
  • Kinesthetic – those who learn from doing and moving.

As you can probably tell, VARK comes from the first letter of each style.

But why use this particular model?

This model was created not only for discussion purposes but for learners to know a few key things — namely understanding how they learn.

Because our school system is focusing on a one-size-fits-all model, there are many of us who struggle learning in school. While we may no longer go to school, these behaviors persisted into our adult lives regardless. While we aren’t learning about algebra or science, we may be learning new things about our job or industry. Knowing how to best retain that information for the future helps in so many ways.

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As such, it can be frustrating when we’re in a classroom setting and aren’t understanding anything. That or maybe we’re listening to a speech or reading a book and have no clue what’s going on.

This is where VARK comes back in. To quote Fleming and Baume:

“VARK above all is designed to be a starting place for a conversation among teachers and learners about learning. It can also be a catalyst for staff development- thinking about strategies for teaching different groups can lead to more, and appropriate, variety of learning and teaching.”

Getting into the specifics, this is what’s known as metacognition.[3] It helps you to understand how you learn and who you are. Think of it as a higher order of thinking that takes control over how you learn. It’s impossible to not use this while learning.

But because of that metacognition, we can pinpoint the different types of learning styles that we use. More importantly, what style we prefer over others.

Ask These Questions

One other method that I’ll mention is the research that’s done at the University of Waterloo.[4] If you don’t want to be using a lot of brainpower to pinpoint, consider this method.

The idea with this method is to answer a few questions. Since our learning is a combination of styles, you’ll find yourself leaning to one side over the other with these questions:

  • The active/reflective scale: How do you prefer to process information?
  • The sensing/intuitive scale: How do you prefer to take in information?
  • The visual/verbal scale: How do you prefer information to be presented?
  • The sequential/global scale: How do you prefer to organize information?

This can narrow down how you learn and provide some other practical tips for enhancing your learning experience.

Final Thoughts

Even though we have a preferred style of learning and knowing what that is is beneficial, learning isn’t about restriction. Our learning style shouldn’t be the sole learning style we rely on all the time.

Our brain is made of various parts and whatever style we learn activates certain parts of the brain. Because of this fact, it would be wise to consider other methods of learning and to give them a try.

Each method I mentioned has its merits and there’s not one dominate or superior method. What method we like is entirely up to our preferences. So be flexible with those preferences and uncover what style works best for you.

More About Learning

Featured photo credit: Anna Earl via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] BrainScape: Repetition is the mother of all learning
[2] Neil Fleming and David Baume: VARKing Up the Right Tree
[3] ERIC: Metacognition: An Overview
[4] University of Waterloo: Understanding Your Learning Style

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Leon Ho

Founder & CEO of Lifehack

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Last Updated on December 13, 2019

When You Never Stop Learning, These 5 Amazing Things Happen

When You Never Stop Learning, These 5 Amazing Things Happen

Imagine if what you’ve been told about learning is a myth.

For example, many people believe that learning ends when you leave college, or that you need to have a high IQ to be able to learn easily. And it’s also a common belief that only young people can learn new things.

Now, not only are all these beliefs completely wrong — but they’re also incredibly harmful to people who buy into them.

The truth is that the ability to learn is available to everyone, including yourself. You just need to find the desire, motivation and purpose to get the ‘learning habit’.

That’s what this article is all about.

I’m going to show you the incredible benefits of lifelong learning. And I’m going to inspire you to start traveling down this glorious road so you can transform your life.

Ready to get started?

Then read on as I reveal five amazing things that will happen when you never stop learning.

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1. You Have a Sharper Mind

Continuous learning helps to keep your mind fresh and your memory sharp.

In fact, research has shown that learning in general has beneficial effects on the brain, including lessening your risk of dementia.[1]

To give you an example of this in action, let me tell you about one of my life coaching clients.

He initially came to me as he felt like he had lost his way in life (he was in his mid-40s at the time). Upon speaking with him, it became obvious to me that not only was he directionless, but he also lacked the spark of life. You know what I mean, that drive and energy that you get once you’re excited about something.

During the course of several one-to-one sessions with him, I was able to help him find out what he wanted to do in his life, and I also instilled in him the power of continuous learning. I did this by asking him to learn at least one new thing a day.

After doing this for a month, he called me up to say that he was feeling enthusiastic about life again. He’d fallen in love with being curious about things and was learning new stuff everyday. He also told me that his mind and memory had never been sharper.

2. Your Confidence Is Boosted

If — like the person I mentioned above — you feel you’ve lost your way in life, then I’m guessing that your confidence has taken a knock too.

This is where learning new things and taking on new challenges can really help.

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For example, imagine that you made the decision today to learn how to rock climb (even though you’re afraid of heights!).

You might initially read a book on the topic, or watch a few videos on YouTube. After that, you’d probably want to enroll in a professional rock climbing group. That way, you could learn to gradually overcome your fear of heights, while at the same time learning the essential techniques of rock climbing.

Within a few weeks, you could be climbing to new heights!

3. Your Interpersonal Skills Are Improved

When you become an active learner, it’s almost inevitable that you’ll widen your social circle and improve your interpersonal skills.

Let’s say you decided to learn how to play chess…

At first, you might learn the rules and some of the basic moves by playing against a computerized opponent. But keep doing this often enough, and eventually you’ll want to test out your skills against a human opponent. This might be a friend, family member or colleague. But whoever it is, your mental battle with them will mean that you share a common experience. One that you’re sure to talk about often.

And if chess eventually becomes a favorite hobby of yours, you might well join a local chess club. This would allow you to meet lots of new people — all who love the game as much as you.

This type of learning can extend your social circle, attract new friends, and enhance your relationships.

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4. You Adapt Change a Lot Better

Greek philosopher Heraclitus revealed a timeless truth: “Change is the only constant in life.”

I’m sure you’ve experienced this in your life. However hard you try to avoid change; there’s no holding this force back.

Once you know this, though, then the secret to success is to be able to adapt to the changes that come your way.

Learning can definitely help you do this. That’s because through the learning process (say learning how to drive a car), you develop skills such as persistence, understanding and resilience. All key skills that can help you deal with any changes in your life that you’re forced to encounter.

Learners are strivers. And strivers know how to turn challenges into opportunities, and adversities into blessings.

5. You Open Up New Career Opportunities

If you want to climb the career ladder or start your own business, then it’s vital that you’re constantly learning.

But not just random stuff.

To be effective, your learning should be primarily focused on your career goals.

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For instance, if you wanted to set yourself up as a freelance business consultant, then I’d recommend that you did your research first:

  • Who are your likely customers?
  • What can you offer them?
  • How much should you charge them?
  • Can you secure enough work to pay your bills?

To find these answers, you probably need to read books and watch videos related to business consulting. But you’d also want to speak to likely customers, to see if and how you could be of help to them. These customers would also be able to give you an idea of how much they would be willing to pay for your services.

If you decided to go ahead with pursuing this career, then the above research will be a good start. But you should keep learning how to improve your skills (including communication and marketing skills), and you should also seek feedback from all your clients — as this will be sure to reveal your strengths and weaknesses.

When it comes to your career, the bottom line is this:

By continually learning relevant, new information, you’ll keep yourself ahead of your competitors. And you’ll also keep yourself in demand from your clients.

Final Thoughts

So, as you can hopefully see from the above, a commitment to lifelong learning will turbocharge your health, happiness and success. And of course, there are more benefits to learning than the ones I’ve listed above. For instance, you’re likely to earn more, you’ll rekindle your zest for life — and you’ll have fun!

In my experience of managing dozens of staff and working with hundreds of life coaching clients, I’ve noticed that those people who have a love for learning, also have a love for life. They’re naturally curious about everything. And this curiosity drives them to seek out new knowledge and skills. They’re also unfazed by change (some of them actually thrive in these circumstances).

If you feel that you’ve lost the ‘learning bug’, then please don’t give up! Reignite your passion for learning through reading self-improvement books, watching inspiring movies, and most importantly… by learning new things!

When you learn how to learn again, your life will be filled with progression and excitement.

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Featured photo credit: Clément Falize via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] Research Gate: Benefits of Lifelong Learning

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