Everyone has a different approach to learning. We process information differently and have different preferences, so it’s no wonder there are different learning styles. Between lectures, videos, charts, tables, displays, simulators and just plain old-fashioned first-hand experience, there are plenty of tools out there to help people learn in the way that’s best for them. Whether you decide to use these tools simultaneously to help increase retention or if you just like to stick to the one tool that works best, there’s something for everyone.
I’ve always been a more visual and tactile learner and it’s been like that in both school and the workplace. Auditory learning on the other hand was one style I could not retain much information from. As we get older and find ourselves seeking new information and having new experiences, our preferences for learning can change. We might even find ourselves looking to improve learning styles we don’t prefer because they provide the best results. Because of this, it has been said that learning styles are a myth, and leaning towards one way of learning could be more damaging than beneficial.
I personally still think there is some validity to different types of learning styles. I’ll always prefer trying something myself over listening to someone tell me about it. Let’s talk about some common learning styles and a few that might come as a surprise.
Visual learning is all about taking information in visually. That can be through pictures, graphs, infographics, diagrams and other various channels. Visual learners see the big picture but they might find themselves losing out on the smaller details. As a visual learner myself, black and white just don’t do. I need color in everything whether it be in keeping notes for work or my list of blog ideas. Color coding is a big help and it’s a tool I use often. Different color post-it notes corresponding to different classes, assignments, topics or projects can be a great help for example. You just attach them to your wall and you can pull them off as you learn or complete a task.
The auditory learning style consists of digesting information in an auditory form. Lectures and group discussions are the preferred channels of learning. Auditory learners usually say things out loud to help with memorization and retaining information. I feel like auditory learning would be the most beneficial to have because listening or hearing people talk is something we experience on a day-to-day basis. Information travels through the air whether it’s in a meeting or someone blasting the radio while walking down the street.
A tactile learning style focuses on learning through the sense of touch and experience. If you like using your hands and receiving hands-on experience, then you just might be a tactile learner. This style of learning can help those who are naturally inquisitive and like to understand how things work. Participating in role-playing, experiments, demonstrations and models can enhance learning. This is my preferred method of learning especially in the workplace.
Reading and Writing
The reading and writing style is exactly how it sounds. This approach leans more on reading and/or writing down concepts and ideas. Taking notes, reading out loud and even rewriting from books are all tools used by read and write learners. Reading and writing are often used together in the learning process. Reading is used to understand concepts whereas writing is used for learning and retention.
A logical learning style is dependent on logic and analytical skills to understand a subject. This means looking for patterns, causes, connections and results. Logical learners focus more on understanding rather than memorizing, and they tend to group information to help with learning. The aim behind learning is to know the reason why something is the way it is versus just taking what you read or see at face value.
A learning style rooted in nature is more dependent on the environment as opposed to a particular set of tools. Naturalistic learners prefer a calm and relaxing environment so being outside helps encourage better learning. This learning style isn’t as common or mentioned as much in traditional settings. It’s like remote working these days. Some people work better from the office, some work better from home and then there are those who find themselves most productive at the park or beach. Naturalistic learners show great interest in exploring nature, observing animals and interacting with the world around them.
Social learners thrive in learning environments that encourage group discussion and working with their peers. They get to combine two important aspects, socializing which is something they love to do and learning. Social learners not only like listening to others, but they also enjoy sharing their knowledge as well. You’ll often find social learners collaborating with other people, brainstorming in group sessions and bouncing different ideas around using verbal and nonverbal communication.
Do you think learning styles are useful? How would you define your learning style? Share in the comments!