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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

More by this author

Leon Ho

Founder & CEO of Lifehack

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Published on March 29, 2021

How To Apply the Stages Of Learning (With Free Worksheet)

How To Apply the Stages Of Learning (With Free Worksheet)

Are you keen to learn new things but find it hard to do so?

Perhaps you lack the confidence to begin learning something new or you’re unsure how to improve your existing skills.

Let me state this upfront: Most people find it difficult to learn, so you shouldn’t feel bad if you’re one of these people.

And the good news is, in the next few minutes I’ll introduce you to the stages of learning. This knowledge will help you break through your learning challenges and turn you into a super-learner.

Let’s dive straight in…

What Are the Stages Of Learning?

There are 3 stages of learning in total, and each stage can be broken down as follows:

Stage 1: Cognitive Learning

In this first stage, known as cognitive learning, the learner observes and listens and makes connections based on knowledge they’ve already gained, either consciously or subconsciously.

Cognitive learning engages students in the learning process, getting them to use their brain to make new connections from knowledge already stored in their mind. This helps them develop problem-solving skills and improve comprehension.

Knowledge in this stage can be acquired through any of the following methods:

Implicit Learning

This takes place when the learner is unaware of the fact that they’re actually learning. It’s devoid of specific instructions, but instead, relies on visual and verbal cues — which usually take place in a social setting.

To give you an example of this, think of a child learning to speak. Typically, they learn the building blocks of their language (or languages) in a social setting without being formally taught by a teacher.

This organic form of learning leads to knowledge that is successfully retained over many years, regardless of any psychological changes the learner experiences.

Implicit learning is effective for skill reproduction and is also independent of IQ and age.

Explicit Learning

This takes place when a person actively seeks out opportunities to learn. Although — like implicit learning — this relies on visual and verbal cues, it doesn’t have to involve a teacher.

Take riding a bike for example.

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Someone wanting to acquire this skill might attempt to learn on their own by mimicking the actions of existing riders. These are visual cues. However, they may also ask someone for guidance on getting started. These are verbal cues.

Explicit learning is a great way to train the brain to learn new concepts and to solve problems.

Collaborative Learning

This type of learning is most commonly used in educational institutes. It involves collaboration between the tutor, the learner, and other students.

I’m sure you’re familiar with the process:

The tutor imparts knowledge and helps the learners to make sense of it. This usually involves the learners being asked to discuss the newly acquired information and to connect it to knowledge they’ve already gained.

Collaborative learning improves learners’ creative thinking, verbal communication and leadership skills. It also helps boost learners’ self-esteem, as well as exposing them to different points of view.

Cooperative Learning

In cooperative learning, students have to interact with each other and the tutor.

The structure is such that learners must follow their tutor’s instructions. The tutor will then observe and assess the learners to make sure they are learning the aim for skills and knowledge.

This style of learning works best when practical knowledge is being shared. For example, sports fields and music rooms are both excellent cooperative learning settings, as they allow tutors to give hands-on demonstrations as well as being able to watch their students try out their new skills.

Cooperative learning helps students increase their retention power, build relationships and boost their self-confidence. In addition, it offers opportunities for social support and helps improve attitude and tolerance towards authority and those who are seen as different to others.

Observational Learning

This style of learning involves the acquisition of knowledge through observation and imitation of others.

Many people are drawn towards this style. That’s because it makes learning an enjoyable activity, encourages social interactions and enhances memory.

Want to learn more about observational learning? Then check out our article: How to Use Observational Learning to Learn Effectively

Meaningful Learning

This type of learning is the opposite of rote learning. It occurs when a concept has been understood fully and is being applied in practice.

For instance, think of a chemistry student who learns from his tutor that mixing certain chemicals can result in an explosive reaction. Once the student knows this, it will prevent them from mixing those chemicals in the lab.

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Meaningful learning requires the linking of new information to previously acquired knowledge. It is constructive and encourages learning through different techniques.

Stage 2: Associative Learning

This style of learning is where the brain is conditioned to learn or modify responses — taking into consideration stimuli offered. It occurs when old and new information is linked to each other, with ideas and experience reinforcing each other.

Associative learning emphasizes acquiring knowledge from the environment and reinforces optimal behavior.

Let’s look now at the different forms of conditioning of associative learning:

Classical Conditioning

Classical conditioning is where the brain is trained to associate a certain desired consequence to an action.

For example, at work, it could be a cash bonus if an employee meets their targets. In the home, it could be extra screen time for kids if they finish their homework.

Classical conditioning can help to modify undesirable characteristics in the learner and can also be used to help overcome phobias.

Operant Conditioning

This type of conditioning follows the idea that certain actions will result when there is a punishment or reward at the end.

Just think of how school usually operates…

We’re rewarded with a certificate and qualification when we pass a course; but if we turn up late for lessons we may well be punished by being sent to detention!

If this concept sparks your interest, then be sure to read our article: Positive Motivation vs Negative Motivation: Which One Is Better?

Extinctive Conditioning

This is when the brain is trained to not expect a previously expected response when certain conditions aren’t met.

A rock band dropping a song from their live set due to it failing to enthuse their audience is a good example of this style of conditioning.

Extinctive conditioning can also be used to modify existing behavior that may be undesirable.

Discriminative Conditioning

This is where the brain is trained to reliably expect a certain outcome to a stimulus.

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A simple example of this would be training a dog to remain still at the command “wait”.

Moving on from associative learning, we come to the third and final stage of learning — the stage that gives a learner the most freedom.

Stage 3: Autonomous Learning

This is the stage of learning where learners gain knowledge through independent efforts and develop an ability to inquire and evaluate away from the influence of tutors and peers.

Learners at this final stage have enough knowledge and power to control their learning.

Typically, they look for sources that will help them make decisions based on their own understanding of the matter. In addition, learners at this stage take responsibility for setting their own targets and goals.

Autonomous learning causes learners to learn through their own will and passion. These learners have the freedom to create their own learning plan and strategies to achieve their aims. They’re also aware of their learning style and can self-evaluate.

Why Should You Care?

When you understand and apply the stages of learning you can expect to see many benefits, including:

  • Improving your memory
  • Boosting your confidence
  • Speeding up your learning time

It goes without saying that you’ll also be able to expand your knowledge and outlook, as well as being able to teach others, if that’s what you’re drawn to do.

So, if you’re ready to learn how to apply the stages of learning — then let’s jump in!

3 Steps to Applying the Stages Of Learning (Free Worksheet)

You don’t need to be super smart to become a fast learner. It’s actually a skill that anyone can learn. You just need to understand and apply the different stages of learning. Once you understand this process, you’ll be able to learn want you want — within the time you want.

Before I show you how to apply the 3 stages of learning, I recommend you download our free learning worksheet – you can grab it here: Learn Faster With the Stages of Learning (Worksheet) as I’m going to walk through the guide with you:

Step 1: Name the ONE skill/knowledge that you’re taking up

Think for a moment about the ONE skill/knowledge that you’re trying to take up.

Once you know what it is, jot it down.

As an example to help get you started, let’s pretend that you want to learn how to drive.

Step 2: Break it down into sub-skills

When you’re trying to take up a new skill or knowledge, there’s definitely more than one thing that you’ll need to learn.

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Continuing the driving example, you’ll need to learn and understand the rules of the road and the practicalities of driving. These will include starting and stopping a car, clutch control, gear changes, braking and reversing — to name but a few.

And of course you’ll need to reach a certain level of driving proficiency to enable you to pass your country’s driving test.

So…

Please spend a few moments thinking about the sub-skills of what you want to learn, and then jot them down.

Step 3: Assess your personal inventory

In this final step, you should look inward and assess your own abilities.

This is essential to help you understand your current skills, and to see what you lack and what you can strengthen. You can also use this step to throw out limiting thoughts such as constantly comparing yourself to others.

Coming back to the driving example, you might spend some time assessing your current knowledge of road safety (you may already be a cyclist who knows the rules of the road) and your confidence levels.

To make this step easy and accurate, we’ve produced a free worksheet that will enable you to come up with concrete actions that you can take to bridge the gap between your current stage of learning and your target one.

Download the worksheet now: Learn Faster With the Stages of Learning (Worksheet)

Bottom Line

Understanding and applying the stages of learning is sure to boost your confidence and speed up your learning. What previously took you months to learn; you’ll now find you can learn in just a few weeks.

With your mastery of learning, a whole new world of knowledge and skills will be opened up to you.

You’ll be able to learn a musical instrument or a new language. And if you’re already studying at college, you’ll be able to streamline your learning and get the possible grades.

Life belongs to the learners, so take control of your life and your learning by downloading our free worksheet right now: Learn Faster With the Stages of Learning (Worksheet)

Happy learning!

Featured photo credit: Le Wagon via unsplash.com

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