“Tell me, and I forget, teach me, and I may remember, involve me, and I learn.” –Xun Kuang, Confucian philosopher
Some people learn better with visual cues, while others need to hear something to help them absorb the material. Still, others need to involve themselves in some capacity to truly understand how something works.
This is the concept behind learning styles. Why is this important? Because discovering how you learn best paired with enough sleep can help you retain more information and improve recall.
In this article, we will take an in-depth look at different learning styles and lessons that you can apply to make your learning more impactful.
What are learning styles?
Learning styles are the theory that describes how individuals learn new information.
The concept of learning styles is popular in education — matching instruction to a particular student’s learning style can help them learn more effectively. But some criticisms are important to point out before we continue.
Several studies have shown no scientific evidence to support the idea that teaching students based on their learning styles leads to improved learning.
Despite these criticisms, you may find these learning styles helpful when trying to understand your own preferences. By discovering what works best for you, you can employ the study techniques you find most engaging to improve your learning experience.
Improving your learning experience also requires getting the right amount of rest and sleep. In fact, Sleep Advisor recommends 8-10 hours of sleep for high school students, and 7 or more hours for college and graduates.
So when you undertake your journey to discovering your learning style, keep in mind that sleep is also essential to bring out the best in you.
The seven different learning styles
Neil D. Fleming and Colleen E. Mills first described the VARK model in 1992. According to the VARK model, there are four learning styles: visual, auditory, reading/writing, and kinesthetic.
Beyond these four types are additional learning styles put forth by Howard Gardner’s Theory of Multiple Intelligence.
Together, we have seven distinct learning styles:
- Visual (spatial)
- Aural (auditory)
- Verbal (linguistic)
- Physical (kinesthetic)
- Logical (mathematical)
- Social (interpersonal)
- Solitary (intrapersonal)
Let’s take a closer look at each one.
1. Visual (spatial)
Do you learn better when instructors include images with their lessons? Do you find yourself closing your eyes to visualize an answer? If so, chances are you’re a visual learner.
Visual learners learn best when there are visual cues associated with the materials they’re learning. As a visual learner, you understand things better by “picturing” things. This helps you retain more information and understand new concepts.
- Visualize your work: Create visual diagrams of what you’re learning. Include charts and other visual images to your materials. You can also use different tools to capture and annotate web pages.
- Create mind maps: If you’re stuck on a difficult topic, create a mind map to break it down and organize your thinking.
2. Aural (auditory)
Do you need to hear something to understand it? This is the mark of an aural learner.
Aural learners understand and learn by hearing and listening. They listen carefully and can discern audible signals like changes in tone or pitch. Auditory learners prefer listening to lectures and tend to read their notes aloud to reinforce new ideas.
- Record audio: Record audio notes when you’re learning new materials and playback the audio to help you review (no matter how weird it sounds).
- Recite your notes: Instead of reading your notes, read them aloud to yourself and rely on auditory recall to process the information.
3. Verbal (linguistic)
Do you enjoy expressing yourself with the written word? Would you rather read a transcript than listen to a lecture or watch an explainer video? Then you’re more of a verbal learner.
Verbal learners learn best by reading and writing. Those with this learning style would much rather read a transcript than listen to a lecture. They can also relate to a quote by American author Flannery O’Connor, “I write because I don’t know what I think until I read what I say.”
- Take notes: Whether you’re attending a lecture or taking online classes, jot down key ideas and important facts either in a notebook or on your computer.
- Annotate materials: Annotating text can help you understand what you’re reading. Use a document-sharing platform like StuDocu to access study resources.
4. Physical (kinesthetic)
Do you need to physically involve yourself to learn something new? That means you’re probably a kinesthetic learner.
Kinesthetic learners are all about touch. They learn through experiencing and enjoy going through the physical motions of an activity.
- Make learning physical: It helps to physically involve yourself somehow. Create flashcards to learn new vocabulary and build models when you can.
- Take frequent breaks: It can be hard for kinesthetic learners to sit still for long periods, so remember to take frequent breaks.
5. Logical (mathematical)
Are you good with numbers and logical reasoning? That would mean you’re a logical learner who takes a methodical approach to solving problems.
Logical learners have strong reasoning skills and can easily recognize patterns. They take a systematic approach to learning and have a keen ability to connect concepts that have no relation.
- Make connections: Break down a topic and look for patterns. Using mind maps can help you see how different ideas are connected.
- Structure your notes: Categorize and classify your notes into distinct categories. This helps you see the bigger picture.
6. Social (interpersonal)
Are you more of a people person? Do you enjoy collaborating and brainstorming new ideas with others? You’re probably a social learner.
Social learners are naturally adept in social settings. They enjoy working in groups and sharing their knowledge with others. Social learners are not only good listeners. They also have the capacity to see things from other perspectives.
- Organize events: Organize a small gathering and hold group discussions. If you’re an entrepreneur, you can hold a session with other business owners and ask what steps they took when forming a business. Consider checking out local coffee shops or offices for coworking reviews for your more formal meeting sessions.
- Teach others: Teaching something you learned is a great way to reinforce it. Share your notes and offer to help others.
7. Solitary (intrapersonal)
Do you prefer to study on your own? If so, then you have more of a solitary and independent learning style.
Solitary learners prefer to work alone rather than in groups. They tend to have more introverted personalities and would rather keep to themselves. Solitary learners work best in quiet environments.
- Prepare your environment: Make sure you have a quiet place you can go to when you want to study alone. This can be your bedroom or even the local library.
- Set goals: To help you stay motivated, it’s important to set goals for yourself. Create a to-do list and keep track of what you need to do.
Discovering your learning style
Tech is leading the way for eLearning. From thousands of different apps — from apps to learn Spanish to online courses on coding and pottery, anyone can find information and share their knowledge with others.
Acquiring new skills can open opportunities and pave the way to exciting careers. There’s no one-size-fits-all, as everybody has their own unique learning preferences. The best approach is often one that combines learning strategies. Experiment with different learning techniques to find what works best for you.
Eleasha Sanders is a freelance writer and educational consultant who covers everything in the digital world, from educational advancement to leadership to career growth. She considers her work as her hobby, as she has a passion for research and writing.