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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 12, 2021

The Faster You Learn, the Easier You’ll Fall Behind

The Faster You Learn, the Easier You’ll Fall Behind

Garry Kasparov is a chess grandmaster – and also a former world chess champion. Over the last few decades, he’s beaten hundreds of first-class chess players. It’s no surprise then, that many people consider Kasparov to be one of the greatest chess players of all time.

However, in 1997, Kasparov lost a game of chess to a computer. A year earlier, he had played against IBM’s Deep Blue chess computer and defeated it. But the computer was to have its revenge, as just one year later, when the rematch took place, Deep Blue defeated Kasparov.

    Over the next few years, humans and computers traded chess moves and blows. Fast-forward to 2017, and the picture is crystal clear: today’s best chess programs can easily beat the world’s best human chess players.[1]

    As the Kasparov story demonstrates, even the world’s top players – who practiced a lot – can end up losing.

    Now consider your friends, family and colleagues. How many of these people think they’re doing well in what they do? And how many think they are doing better than the average and have stopped looking for ways to improve themselves? The answer is, a lot.

    Why Learning Can Lead to Stagnation

    When people learn well – they pick up knowledge and quickly become skillful. And the smarter the people, the easier they pick up knowledge, and the easier and faster they become very good at something.

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    These types of individuals find learning effortless, and therefore, they pick up knowledge and skills much better than the average person.

    Take a look at the picture below. The tool in their hand represents the skill they have learned, and the cloud is the level they are currently on – in this case ground level.

      When these learners become knowers, they believe that they know what they’ve learned extremely well. This may be the case, but in reality, they’re already better than average. Because of this, they are unlikely to find anyone who can surpass them. It’s at this point that they may think to themselves, “I’m good enough” and “there’s no need for me learn anything more.”

        As I’ll show in the next few paragraphs, people’s egos can stop them from learning and improving themselves.

        For example, let’s take a look at an expert pianist. They can perform proficiently because of their hard work and practice that they’ve put in over the course of many years. To help them, they may have had a tutor who developed their skills and brought out their talent.

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        The consistent tutoring and practicing led them to become an accomplished pianist – one who regularly performs paid concerts in front of decent-sized audiences. However, their success has led them to believe that they don’t need to make any further changes or improvements to their musical skills.

          When experts stop learning – they start to fall behind. This is because others will keep improving, and eventually get ahead of them.

          The world is constantly changing, so sticking to the same way to practice (and failing to improve) will lead to people dropping the ball. A recent study predicted that one in five U.K. employees are under threat of losing their jobs to automation. A person who’s comfortable in their job today, may find themselves replaced by a computer or robot tomorrow. If this prediction comes true, millions of people will soon find themselves out of work.[2] This is a real life example of how people can fall behind when they stop learning and improving themselves.

          Clearly, any experts who stop learning and improving, will be replaced by those who keep learning – whether these are humans or machines.

            When You Think You’ve Learned Enough, You Fall Behind

            The cloud depicted in the visuals isn’t concrete, and it’s prone to fall and disappear any time when you stop paying attention to your own learning and development.

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            Everyone, no matter how good they believe themselves to be at something, should never stop learning. Reaching an ‘acceptable’ performance only means that you’re doing okay. It doesn’t mean that you’re doing it to the best of your ability or potential.

            As I stated earlier (but well worth repeating again)… When you stop learning, you’re falling behind.

              Push Yourself to Reach New Heights

              To keep ahead of your competitors, you need to keep learning and practicing. However, this doesn’t necessarily mean doing things in the same way. You may need to step outside of your comfort zone in order to improve.

                Do what you can’t

                When you think you’re doing something well enough, find what you can’t do – and then do it! Here are four key things to remember about pushing your boundaries:

                1. If you never push yourself beyond your comfort zone, you will never improve.
                2. Getting out of your comfort zone means trying to do something that you couldn’t do before.
                3. Sometimes you’ll run into something that stops you in your tracks. Find ways around these hurdles by focusing on improving your skills and knowledge, and then practicing them until you become proficient.
                4. Don’t be afraid to experiment. You may need to try different ways to make things happen.

                Set yourself specific goals as you practice

                People who achieve great things set themselves definite goals. And I highly recommend that you do the same.

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                One great way to do this is to follow the SMART and Stretch goal methods, which will help you set a big goal, while at the same time giving you baby steps on how to reach it. When SMART and Stretch goals are combined, your goal setting will have genuine purpose and power. You’ll be motivated by the giant goal, while having confidence in the small, incremental steps that will lead you there.

                Find out more about goals setting in my other article: How to Get Bigger Things Done in the Coming Year

                Along the way, you need to get feedback to help you improve

                It goes without saying that to make progress, you’ll need feedback to identify exactly where and how you are falling short. This feedback can be from yourself or from outside observers (e.g., your audience, your mentor, your peers).

                Do you know why computers can beat humans at chess after those times they’ve lost against them? The answer is, that people who program the computers have learned through all the steps humans have performed. They also gathered valuable feedback through their computers losing against some competitors. The programmers pick up the clues and change the way the computers perform in their next matches.

                Learning Should Never Come to an End

                When we’re young we naturally crave learning. We constantly seek out new knowledge, skills and experiences. However, as we mature, there’s a tendency for us to stop learning new things.

                If this happens, you can be sure that stagnation is just around the corner. And as nature shows, nothing (even stagnation) stays the same for long. Things are either building up – or breaking down.

                To avoid the latter, you must maintain a positive outlook that embraces big goals and constant learning. By doing these things, you’ll stay fresh, lively and ahead of the pack of hyenas snapping at your heels!

                Reference

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