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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

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Leon Ho

Founder & CEO of Lifehack

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Published on April 15, 2021

9 Steps to Make Self-Regulated Learning More Effective

9 Steps to Make Self-Regulated Learning More Effective

You have probably heard of the saying, “Give a man a fish, and he eats for a day. Teach a man to fish, and he eats for a lifetime.”

That old cliché gets thrown around quite a bit in educational circles, but what really goes into inspiring people to become independent, lifelong learners? Read on to learn more about self-regulated learning and how to make it more effective.

Self-Regulated Learning

One theory about teaching people how to learn is through self-regulated learning. In the broadest sense, it’s the idea that individuals should set their own learning goals and work independently and with a sense of agency and autonomy to achieve those goals. It’s the opposite of a teacher handing out a worksheet and students completing it just because the teacher told them to.

Self-regulated learning is constructive and self-directed.[1] Instead of the worksheet example, self-regulated learning involves the students setting their own learning goals, deciding how to best achieve those goals, and then systematically and strategically working toward them. Teaching strategies like the Workshop Model and Portfolios are more aligned with self-regulated learning than a one-size-fits-all worksheet or lecture.

Workshop Model

The workshop model consists of three parts. Class begins with a mini-lesson, then students spend time working independently while the teacher circulates conferencing with students. Finally, the class ends with some kind of summary derived from what students learned through their independent work.

Heavy hitters in the workshop model are Lucy Calkins and Nancie Atwell.[2][3] Their work has been instrumental in spreading best practices so that teachers know how to create truly student-led learning experiences.[4]

Portfolios

Another example of an instruction that’s moving toward self-regulated learning is student portfolios. Students set learning goals and periodically reflect on whether or not they’re achieving those goals. They keep all their reflections and student work in folders and have periodic conferences with their teacher on how they’re pressing toward their goals.[5]

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The problem though is that the workshop model and portfolios require a different mindset and skillset from teachers. That’s where the theory of self-regulated learning comes in.

3 Elements of Self-Regulated Learning

One approach to self-regulated learning is to break it down into three components: regulation of processing modes, regulation of the learning process, and regulation of self. Dividing self-regulated learning in this way helps teachers know how to best help students work toward their individual goals, and it also gives us a glimpse into how we all can become more self-regulated learners.

1. Regulation of Processing Modes

The first step in self-regulated learning is to give learners a choice in how and why they’re learning in the first place.

In our worksheet example, students are completing the task because the teacher said so, but when we reset why we’re learning in the first place, we’re starting to create a foundation for self-regulated learning.

One educational researcher, Noel Entwistle makes a distinction between three different reasons for learning, and his work makes what we’re all working toward a lot clearer. Students can try to reproduce or memorize information, they can try to get good grades, or they can seek personal understanding or meaning.[6]

The goal of self-regulated learning is to encourage students to move away from the first two learning orientations (following orders and trying to get good grades) and move toward the third, learning for some kind of intrinsic gain—learning to learn.

2. Regulation of Learning Process

The next level of self-regulated learning is when students are in charge of their own learning process. This is also known as metacognition. Studies have shown that when teachers do most of the heavy lifting—deciding what’s working and not working for each student—there’s a reduction in students’ metacognitive skills.[7]

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When I was teaching middle and high school, we had a saying that if we left the building at the end of the school day more tired than the students, we hadn’t done our job. What that means is that teachers have to find a way to get students to do the heavy lifting of metacognition—thinking about thinking. And students need to accept the challenge and become curious about what’s working and not working about their individualized and (at least, partially) self-generated learning plans.

Boosting metacognition might include learning about how the brain works, what metacognition is all about, and all the different learning styles. Becoming curious about your individual strengths and learning preferences is crucial in beefing up your metacognitive skills.

3. Regulation of Self

Finally, there’s goal setting. If students are going to become truly self-regulated learners, they have to start setting their own goals and then reflecting on their progress toward those goals.

How to Make Self-Regulated Learning More Effective

Now that you’ve learned the important elements of self-regulated learning, here are 9 ways you can make it more effective for you.

1. Change Your Mindset About Learning

The first way to become a self-regulated learner is to change your mindset about why you’re learning in the first place. Instead of doing your schoolwork because the teacher says so or because you want the highest GPA, try to move toward learning to satisfy your curiosity. Learn because you want to learn.

Sometimes, this will be easy, like when you’re learning something on your own that you’ve self-selected. Other times, it’s tougher, like when you have a teacher-selected assignment due.

Before mindlessly completing your assignment, try to find “your in.” Find what’s fascinating about the topic and cling to that as you complete it. Sure, you need to complete it to graduate, but by finding the morsel that’s interesting to you, you’ll be able to start experiencing a more self-regulated kind of learning.

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2. Explore Different Learning Styles

There are lots of different ways to learn: auditory, visual, spatial, and kinesthetic. Learn what all those styles mean and which ones feel especially effective for you.

3. Learn How Learning Works

Another great way to become a more self-regulated learner is to learn how learning works. Read up on cognitive science and psychology to figure out how we form memories, how we retain information, and how our emotions affect our learning. You have to understand the tools you’ve been given before you can wield those tools most optimally.

4. Get Introspective

Now it’s time to get introspective. Do a learning inventory and reflect on when you’ve been most and least successful in your learning.

What’s your best subject? Why? When did you lose interest in a subject? Why? Ask yourself tough questions about how you learn, so you can move forward more strategically.

5. Find Someone to Tell You Like It Is

It’s also helpful to find someone who can be honest about your learning strengths and weaknesses. Find someone you trust who will be honest about your learning progress. If you lack self-awareness about your learning style and abilities, it’s difficult to be a self-regulated learner, so work with someone else to start becoming more self-aware.

6. Set Some SMART Goals

Now it’s time to set some learning goals. SMART goals are specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound. They’re a great way to become a self-regulated learner.[8]

Instead of just saying, “I want to get better at Spanish,” you might set a SMART goal by saying “I want to memorize 100 new Spanish vocabulary words by next week.” Next week, you can test yourself and measure whether or not you’ve achieved your goal.

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It’s difficult to see how we’re progressing and learning when our goal is vague. Setting SMART goals gives you a clear barometer for your learning.

7. Reflect on Your Progress

Goals don’t mean much unless you measure your progress every now and then. Take time to determine whether or not you’ve achieved your SMART learning goals and why or why not you did. Self-reflection is a great way to boost self-awareness, which is a great way to become a self-regulated learner.

8. Find Your Accountability Buddies

Armed with your goals and deadlines, it’s time to find some trustworthy people to help keep you accountable. Now, your learning progress is your responsibility when you’re a self-regulated learner, but it doesn’t hurt to have some friends who know what your goals are. You can turn to this trustworthy group to discuss your learning progress and keep you motivated.

9. Say It Loud and Proud

There’s a phenomenon where we’re more likely to attain our goals when we’ve made them public.[9] Announcing our goals helps hold our feet to the fire. So, figure out a way to make your learning goals known. This might mean telling your accountability buddies, your teacher, or maybe even a social media group.

Just know that you’re more likely to succeed when you’re not the only one who knows what your goals are.

Final Thoughts

Self-regulated learning is learning for learning’s sake. So, change your entire attitude about why you’re learning in the first place. Choose what you want to know more about or start with what interests you most when assigned a topic or project.

Then, set SMART goals and periodically reflect on your progress. Self-awareness is a skill that can be practiced and improved. Make learning your job and your responsibility, and you’ll be well on your way toward becoming a self-regulated learner.

You’ll never need to blame your learning struggles on someone or something else. Instead, you’ll have the self-awareness and abilities to be able to take your learning into your own hands and find a way forward no matter your current situation and limitations.

Featured photo credit: Josefa nDiaz via unsplash.com

Reference

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