Remember back in school when you used to compare your talents with those of your classmates? In every classroom you could find a few or all of the following: the book worm, the class clown, the artist, the jock, the math genius, the well-rounded one, and, of course, the infamous slacker.
Some of us might have believed that our talents were superior to others or that classmates without any notable skill–such as the unpopular student with straight Fs–were somehow overlooked by Nature.
We could not have been more mistaken.
Recent research has shown that different people learn in different ways and that our current educational system–with its one-size-fits-all model–is probably catering to only a handful of the learners in their classrooms. The rest are forced to adapt–or not, as in the case of the “slow” student.
Although you’ve probably heard of the concept of learning styles before, it’s most likely limited to an understanding of visual, auditory and kinesthetic learning. In this post, we will go further and cover the eight different learning styles, which is based on psychologist Howard Gardner’s theory of multiple intelligences. And if you’re eager to determine your own learning style before you read on, take this 5-minute quiz, created by Branton Shearer of M.I. Research and Consulting.
Although most people have a combination of these eight different learning styles, most of us have a preferred method of processing information. Each has its own strengths and weaknesses, but there is no one right way to learn.
Also, it is important to note that just because you fall into a certain category, such as social learning, this does not mean that you are destined to fail subjects requiring logical learning, such as math and science. This diagnostic is not meant to limit your capabilities, but rather to give you greater insight into how you uniquely process information.
With that said, let’s delve into the different learning styles and how each can be addressed within a classroom or professional setting.
The visual or spatial learner is often referred to as a right-brained learner. This person is typically good at deciphering visual data in the form of maps and graphs. While they excel at subjects such as geometry, they struggle with arithmetic and numbers in general. Incorrectly labelled as “late bloomers” for their struggles with reading and writing, these learners simply see the world in a different manner: They are imaginative, think outside of the box and quickly process what they see rather than what they hear.
A bit different from the previous category, verbal learners are adept at processing information through the use of language. They excel at reading, writing, listening and speaking. They have an excellent memory for things they have read and enjoy all types of word games, puns, rhymes and tongue twisters. Many of them also enjoy learning different languages. These learners particularly enjoy their writing, drama and speech classes.
This type of learner is skilled at mathematical and logical reasoning. They are able to solve problems involving numbers and can easily decipher abstract visual information. They are also adept at analyzing cause and effect relationships and tend to think linearly. They like to classify and group information, as well as create ordered lists, agendas and itineraries. They are able to perform relatively complex calculations in their heads and enjoy strategy games such as chess and backgammon.
The auditory (musical) learner thinks in sounds rather than images. They think chronologically and learn best through step-by-step methods. Unlike visual learners, they have an impeccable memory for conversations and enjoy debates and discussions. They have strong language skills and perform well on oral exams. As the name suggests, they also have musical talents and are able to discern individual notes, rhythms and tones. On the downside, they have difficulty interpreting facial expressions and gestures, as well as complex graphs and charts.
The social (interpersonal) learner is unique in his/her ability to learn best through interactions with other people. They usually enjoy working through topics in a group setting and bouncing ideas off of other people. Social learners are gifted at reading others’ emotions and facial expressions, as well as relationship dynamics. They are also very good at identifying the root cause of communication problems.
The intrapersonal, or solitary, learner likes to use self-study and work alone. Usually, solitary learners are in tune with their feelings, who they are and what they are capable of doing. These types of learners are very independent, so they guide themselves on their journey to learning something new each day. They are particularly gifted in the areas of self-management and self-reflection.
Physical (kinesthetic) learners are always moving and doing something with their hands. They learn best when their bodies are involved in the learning process. This can mean anything from creating artwork with their hands to being able to manipulate what is being learned. These types of learners benefit from larges spaces that enable to them to draw and write. They can also find walking back and forth while reading conducive to their learning. It comes to no surprise that physical learners are many times athletically gifted and tend to live in the present moment rather than in the future or the past.
These types of learners process information best when it is related to finding patterns in nature and applying scientific reasoning to the understanding of living creatures. They usually grow up to be farmers, naturalists or scientists. These learners particularly enjoy being outdoors and connecting with Nature. They are often found observing and appreciating plants and animals in rural settings.