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Learning Styles

There are many different learning styles. This article has information on auditory, visual, and tactile learners as well as the concept of multiple intelligences. Keep reading for more on learning styles.

There are a variety of different proposals for categories of learning styles, which are the favored approaches different people have for interacting with whatever they’re trying to add to their understanding or repertoire. A good understanding of learning style can help the learner to adjust his or her own approaches in order to achieve the best results, and can help teachers be aware of the types of instructional methods that may be of most value to their students. This article gives an overview of learning styles.

And Then There Were Three . . . or Maybe Four

One way that learning styles are frequently categorized is auditory, visual, and kinesthetic/tactile. This is how these types of learning styles are characterized:

  • Auditory learners prefer to take in information through listening activities.
  • Visual learners prefer to see demonstrations, pictures, and visual aides.
  • Kinesthetic/Tactile learners do best with activities that involve movement and touch.

If this were the complete package, we would have to wonder a lot about our schools employing so many textbooks that seemingly fit nobody’s learning style, but actually, four part division has also been suggested:

  • Visual/Verbal
  • Visual/Nonverbal
  • Tactile/Kinesthetic
  • Auditory/Verbal

with the Visual/Verbal learner showing a preference for reading and writing as learning approaches.

Or Maybe There Were Seven

Another proposal for learning styles is Howard Gardner’s concept of multiple intelligences, which proposes a broader spectrum of important types of interactive preferences exercised by people in coming to terms with the world. They are:

  • Linguistic Intelligence, which revolves around words and language, allowing for skilled speech and critical analysis of word craft;
  • Musical Intelligence, which revolves around sound and sound patterns, allowing for skilled production of and appreciation of music;
  • Logical-Mathematical Intelligence, which revolves around logic, reason, and numbers, allowing for an ability to conceptualize;
  • Spatial Intelligence, which revolves around visual perception, allowing for a strong ability to visualize;
  • Bodily-Kinesthetic Intelligence, which revolves around experiences of movement and touch, allowing for skillful athletic performances and manipulation of objects;
  • Intrapersonal Intelligence, which revolves around a clear sense of one’s own inner states and emotional life allowing for well-developed self-knowledge; and
  • Interpersonal Intelligence, which revolves around a clear window into the emotional lives of others, allowing for strong interpersonal connections

Learning Style Inventories

If you Google “learning styles,” you will find a number of inventories that profess to reveal your learning style to you. Be aware that they are posted by people with different levels of expertise, and that some of them are pretty blunt tools. Questions that are framed “would you rather a or b?” for example, may not take into account your preference to do a on certain occasions, but b in other circumstances. Thus, the result may be less than perfectly clear (or accurate).

The fact is that not everyone has a very strong leaning towards only one style, and some particular areas or topics may lend themselves more by their nature to one particular style than another. This may mean both that learners whose style is a good match with the material being learned may have an easier time, but also that learners may learn to adjust their preferred style to adapt to the material placed before them.

Despite the limitations of the quick tests that you find online, an analysis of your learning style by a professional who can help you gain insight into strategies that will make your efforts more productive can be a very useful thing. It can help you to take steps that will make your studying time and learning more productive, and this is why guidance counselors will sometimes guide students towards this type of analysis.


Diablo Valley College Online: The Four Learning Styles in the DVC Survey

Frames of Mind: The Theory of Multiple Intelligences by Howard Gardner