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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

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Last Updated on January 18, 2021

7 Science-Backed Learning Hacks to Help You Learn Anything Faster

7 Science-Backed Learning Hacks to Help You Learn Anything Faster

Are you learning a new skill? Whether you’re learning a language, instrument, or sport, there’s science-backed learning hacks you can systematically follow to learn it faster.

With technology, communication tools, and access to information, there’s no limit to what you can learn today. We’ve curated our top 7 learning hacks that you can use for your benefit.

1. Set the right goals from the start

Having the right goals in place is the first step in learning anything. It’s the foundation that will set you up for either success or failure. Most people set vague goals that doesn’t help them in the long term.

For example, let’s say you want to learn how to speak Spanish in order to travel to South America.

A bad goal would be: “I want to learn Spanish so I can go to South America.” Why? Because it’s too general.

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A great goal must include the following factors:

  • Visualization
  • Measurable
  • Deadline

An example goal of a better goal would be: “I want to be able to hold a 30-minute conversation in Spanish with a native speaker from Buenos Aires by July 2017.”

Notice the difference in specificity, visualization, and timeline to learn. Keep these factors in mind the next time you set a goal.

2. Schedule it in

What doesn’t get scheduled in the calendar, doesn’t get done. All of us love to complain about one thing, lack of time. But learning a new skill doesn’t have to take up a large portion of your day. In fact, in as little as 30 minutes per day, you can learn something new.

While it may not be a game changing learning session, these small lessons will quickly accumulate over time.

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3. Deconstruct the skills

Next is to deconstruct and breakdown the individual components you need to learn. Let’s take learning Spanish to continue our example. You could break the skill down to writing, reading, conversation, and listening.

In his popular book, The Four-Hour Chef, Tim Ferriss recommends asking the following question: “What are the minimum learnable units, the LEGO blocks, I should be starting with?” This will help you analyze what are the starting points that you should cover.

4. Focus on the 20% vital learnings

Most of the time, resources, and money we spend are not as impactful towards our end goal as we think. An Italian economist named Vilfredo Pareto came up with a law called the Pareto’s Principle. It explains that 20% of tasks, activities, and time will often provide 80% of our desired results.

For example, if you want to learn a language, the 20% could be focusing on learning how to hold a conversation in your target language instead of focusing on reading, writing, etc.

5. Have a stake

Willpower is largely overestimated in our society. Humans, as much as we have progressed, need to be incentivized in one way or another. This could be a reward that we receive for doing something, or it could be a punishment that we get for not doing something.

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I recommend checking out StickK, which is a free goal-setting platform created by behavioral economists that put real money on the line if you fail to meet your goals. The more that’s on the line, the more committed you’ll be.

6. Learn from a professional teacher

If there’s any shortcut in life, it’s to learn from someone who’s done it and trained to teach you. Sure, you can try to do it all on your own, but that’ll take significantly longer in terms of time, sometimes years.

This is why having a personal trainer to help you get in shape has shown to provide individuals the fastest and most effective results. Or why the best performers in business have business coaches and mentors by their side at all times.

7. Take care of yourself

There’s no question that health is one of the most important things we should prioritize to learn anything faster. If done well, it will trickle down to help us pick up knowledge faster and remember more information.

This boils down to not just more, but better sleep and exercise. Exercise improves learning on three levels. It optimizes your mindset, by improving alertness, attention, and motivation. It prepares and encourages nerve cells to intersect, preparing our brain to acquire new information. And it spurs the development of new nerve cells from stem cells in the hippocampus, an area of the brain related to memory and learning.

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Here’s a visual representation of how our brain is affected by sitting versus taking a quick 20-minute walk.

    In conclusion, these simple learning hacks can help anyone of us fill the skill gaps we need to thrive in our professional career and personal lives. Sometimes, just working harder is not the solution. It’s working smarter.

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