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Last Updated on March 31, 2020

6 Common Types of Learners (With Learning Hacks for Each)

6 Common Types of Learners (With Learning Hacks for Each)

Everybody knows that the secret to growing in life is learning more. But not everyone is cut out for extensive learning. In fact, most people never learn beyond the textbooks they’re taught in high school or college. And those who do try and go out of their way to learn new skills are met with a hostile mind that won’t retain the slightest bit of info for them.

The solution?

Learn the types of learners and identify which category you fall into.

You see, not everyone learns the same way. Everybody has their own method of learning and it’s vital for you to know yours.

Why?

By knowing which type of learner you are, you can speed up your learning process and make it more effective as well. You can even untap your hidden potential and advance your career: How Connecting Different Learning Styles Leads to Career Success

In this article, I’ve only chosen the learning styles that actually work using the principles discussed in our article: How to Know Which Types of Learning Styles Work?

So I’ll be going over the 6 most common types of learners to help you identify which one you are. In the process, I’ll also provide learning hacks for each type.

To identify the types of learners and their characteristics, you can consider different learning models. Here, I’ll be using the VARK model which is an acronym for Visual, Auditory, Reading, and Kinesthetic.[1]

Here’s the deal:

The VARK model alone doesn’t cut it. I, by no means, find it exhaustive because there are a lot more ways in which you could categorize learning styles.

So, I’ll be adding a couple of extra learner types in this list to make it more complete and inclusive.

Without further ado, here are the types of learners:

1. Visual Learners

Most learner types lean towards a specific sensation when learning.

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Sounds technical? Allow me to simplify:

Most people learn best when they focus on learning primarily through one of their basic senses. In the case of visual learners, that is their sense of vision.

These people learn best through graphics, charts, animations, and maps. They’ll learn effectively if they doodle their ideas and create a flowchart that they can easily follow.

Visual learners have the ability to condense information into visual perceptions. They can distill rather complex ideas into simple diagrams and retain them effectively.

Learning Hacks for Visual Learners:

If you are a visual learner, try making flowcharts as short notes to memorize what you’re learning. This may be a lecture, technique, skill or anything you’re trying to master.

Doesn’t matter what you’re learning, just try to follow the information our ideas in a logical manner and jot it down in the form of a flowchart.

You can further master the art of visual learning by reading: How to Use Visual Learning to Learn Effectively.

2. Auditory Learners

Remember in high school when the teacher would ask a question from someone who apparently wasn’t paying attention and that person would answer in a jiffy?

Well, chances are that the person was an auditory learner.

This type of learner uses their hearing ability to understand and retain information. Even with their heads down and with no eye contact, they can absorb information in lectures or meetings.

Although a physical or visual connection should enhance their learning ability, not having one won’t affect them greatly.

Often, auditory learners are the ones who get offended by (or notice) changes in people’s tonality.

Learning Hacks for Auditory Learners:

According to a 2019 survey, 20% of American adults listened to an Audiobook in the last 12 months.[2] As an auditory learner, you should most definitely be a part of the audiobook community. Listen to as many high-quality audiobooks on the topic you wish to learn about.

If you’re trying to memorize something, record it on your phone and then keep listening to it on repeat while you go through your day.

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You can also try and speak the words you read to stimulate your hearing senses.

3. Reading/Writing Learners

This is the most basic type of learner. However, it’s the most vital one as well as almost all of us have tried learning by reading or writing.

Reading/writing learners learn best through the aid of written text. They’ll either bury their nose in a book or fill notepads with the information they’re trying to retain and learn.

For them, creating flowcharts or diagrams is an ineffective method of learning as it tends to leave out important bits of information.

Learning Hacks for Reading/Writing Learners:

Don’t waste your time writing everything you read. As you progress in your discipline, you’ll want to devote more time to practicing rather than memorizing.

So, try shortening your notes and highlighting information that you’ll want to revisit later. Put in the maximum effort upfront to jot down and highlight important points so you can save time later.

Also, if you’re taking any sort of online course, opt-in for those that have written transcripts alongside audio or video lectures.

4. Kinesthetic Learners

Kinesthetic learners are the ones who, arguably, understand their discipline the most. That’s because they’re not just aware of theories, but practical applications as well.

Kinesthetic learners learn best by applying information. They enjoy having hands-on experience in learning and are constantly reflecting on how to make information more practical and easy-to-use.

They are usually less interested in theory. Instead of reading a book or buying an online course, they’d much rather dive head-first into it and try learning along the way.

Learn more about the characteristics of a kinesthetic learner: 5 Characteristics of a Kinesthetic Learner

Learning Hacks for Kinesthetic Learners:

The biggest problem with this type of learner is that they waste too much time trying to figure it out by themselves.

There’s ample information out there for you to understand the basics of whatever you’re trying to learn or do. No matter what your discipline, chances are that someone has already walked down the same path as you are today.

So, it’s best to learn from other’s experiences and mistakes instead of making the same mistakes yourself.

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Now, here’s the thing:

My advice to all kinesthetic learners is to supplement their learning with a high-quality information source; be it written, visual or auditory.

Don’t expect to learn everything yourself. Even if you do, you’re going to waste lots of time in the process; time that you could otherwise spend on learning more.

Secondly, while studying your subject or skill, try thinking of ways in which you could incorporate that information in real life.

For example, if you’re learning how to do financial reports, do a free one for a local business. By the time you’re done, you’ll know more about making financial reports than you would have ever expected.

5. Group/Social Learners

This is a learning style that isn’t part of the VARK model. However, I find it to be quite a common and interesting one.

We all know people who crave social gatherings. They work best if they are part of a group; surrounded by people that are trying to learn the same stuff as they are.

Group or social learners have a strong sense of teamwork, which is often complemented with inherent leadership qualities. Often, you’ll see group learners volunteering for leadership roles and being the center of attraction in social gatherings.

Learning Hacks for Group/Social Learners:

If you’re a group learner, then it’s best for you to enroll in a physical class instead of an online one.

Even though online courses seem to be all the rage nowadays, they don’t provide physical group interactions.

Although you can get a shared sense of purpose in online classes that have a community atmosphere, learning together in the same room is something that probably can’t be replicated over the internet.

Even if you’re trying to learn something alone, try finding an accountability partner that can listen to you and your journey along the way as well as remind you to stay true to your purpose.

This is why social learning is useful: How Social Learning Helps You Learn Faster

6. Multimodal Learners

Although not part of the original VARK model, the multimodal learner type is essentially recognized by it. In fact, according to the Vark Learn website, multimodal learners make up to 50-70% of the population.[3]

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Now, the question is:

What is a multimodal learner?

Simply put, multimodal learners are ones who learn using more than one learning style.

For example, a multimodal learner could lean towards auditory and reading/writing learning style or a group and visual learning style. What’s more, such a learner could even use more than 2 styles without breaking a sweat.

The key ability of this type of learner is the transition that he makes while adjusting to different learning styles. Such learners don’t believe in sticking to one learning method and can easily adapt to different teaching styles.

Learning Hacks for Multimodal Learners:

Don’t worry too much about learning types and styles. Maintain your agile learning ability and employ whatever learning style suits you for the task at hand.

Which Type of Learner Are You?

This is a question that I get asked a lot.

Now, one way to understand what type of learner you are is to take the VARK Learn questionnaire. You can take this questionnaire in about 2 minutes or less and receive automated results based on your answers.

However, this isn’t the most effective option. In fact, I think the most effective way of understanding your learner type is to simply notice what clicks for you.

Over the span of a couple of days, notice what learning styles and techniques you adopt. This way, you’ll understand what does and doesn’t work for you.

Bottom Line

A 2009 study concluded that there isn’t sufficient data to prove that a particular learning style works better. More so, the study concluded that people or educational institutions need not devote time for adapting to a particular learning style.[4]

So the bottom line:

No particular learning method provides better results than the rest.

Learner types aren’t that important. Different people use different learning methods depending on what works for them. Just because a learning style sounds cool to you doesn’t mean you need to spend time adapting to it.

It becomes irrelevant what type of learner you are if you learn well.

More Tips for Effective Learning

Featured photo credit: Amy Tran via unsplash.com

Reference

More by this author

Leon Ho

Founder & CEO of Lifehack

Why Assuming Positive Intent Is an Amazing Productivity Driver What Is a Habit? Understand It to Control It 100% The Secret to Success Is Failure How to Stop Bad Habits: 9 Scientifically Proven Methods How To Be Successful In Life: 13 Life-Changing Tips

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Last Updated on March 31, 2020

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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