Written By: Jessica Gale

Introduction: What Are Learning Styles?

A laptop and a notebook placed on a wooden table.


The term ‘learning styles’ is often used to describe the unique ways in which we, as individuals, prefer to learn. Some of us might learn better by listening, some by doing, and some by seeing. Understanding our personal learning styles is not the end all and be all for school success, but it can indeed be a crucial part of the puzzle. It’s about becoming more self-aware learners, understanding what we need to effectively comprehend and retain information. Our preferences for learning are the key here.

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Learning Styles: A Closer Look

There are a myriad of learning styles, but for this post, we will focus on the well-known VARK model: Visual-Spatial, Auditory, and Kinesthetic.

Visual-Spatial Learning Style

A person with ADHD engrossed in a book, utilizing their visual-spatial learning style, positioned near a window.


As the term implies, visual learners benefit from having information presented in a visual format – books, images, videos, articles, charts, etc. They learn holistically, preferring to see the “big picture” rather than follow step by step explanations. This visual learning style often lends itself to creativity, detailed note-taking, and color coding.

Auditory Learning Style

A person with ADHD using an iphone and a notebook on a wooden table to engage their auditory learning style.


Contrary to visual learners, auditory learners acquire and retain information best through sound – lectures, discussions, audio recordings, taped lectures, and podcasts. They often improve comprehension by reading aloud, and orally summarizing what they have read, highlighting the importance of listening skills in their learning process.

Kinesthetic Learning Style

A person with ADHD is kinesthetically learning while working on an electronic circuit.


Kinesthetic learners or ‘do-ers’ shine in hands-on or tactile activities. Lab or workshop activities and other multisensory learning experiences work best for these students, allowing them to engage their senses fully and interact with the material to understand and remember it.

Strategies for Different Learning Styles

Adopting specific strategies that align with students’ preferred learning styles can drastically improve their learning experience. Here are some strategies for each learning style:

A person with ADHD using a laptop, engaging in visual-spatial activities.

Visual-Spatial

Creating visual representations, use of charts, diagrams, highlighting key words.

Auditory

A young boy with ADHD holding a book, captivated by the auditory experience.

Reading aloud, recording lectures, creating mnemonic devices.

A man with ADHD writing on a paper using a pen in a kinesthetic way.

Kinesthetic

Making use of physical objects for learning, associating movement with studying, and creating physical index cards.

Multiple Intelligences: An Additional Consideration

An essential concept to pair with learning styles is multiple intelligences. This theory, introduced by Howard Gardner, suggests different kinds of “intelligences” that people possess. Recognizing these intelligences can contribute significantly to optimizing student learning. For example, students with a high degree of linguistic intelligence might excel in reading and writing, while those with strong interpersonal intelligence might thrive in group discussions.

Supporting Children with Learning Styles

Educational research suggests that understanding and addressing different learning styles can help support children’s learning. For instance, a visual learner might benefit from visual aids in the classroom, such as diagrams or color-coded notes. Meanwhile, an auditory learner might improve their reading skills through phonics instruction and listening to audio recordings. For kinesthetic learners, incorporating physical activity into lessons could help them stay engaged.

Conclusion: The Power of Learning Styles

In essence, learning styles offer a practical framework to understand how students learn best. Recognizing and addressing different learning styles can lead to more effective teaching and improved student outcomes. So, embrace these differences and create a more inclusive and engaging learning environment for all students.

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References:

  1. Mulcaire, Susan. The 21st Century Student’s Guide to Study Skills: For College & Career Readiness. Tween Publishing LLC, 2015.
  2. “Different Learning Styles.” Education for Today and Tomorrow | L’Education Aujourd’hui Et Demain, 2 Mar. 2017.
  3. https://www.southwesterncc.edu/sites/default/files/VAK_Learning_Styles.pdf

Additional Resources:

  1. NC State University Learning Style Assessment
  2. Southern Utah University Learning Style Self-Assessment
  3. Education Planner Learning Styles Self-Assessment

The above resources provide further insights for those interested in delving deeper into the world of learning styles. The goal of education is not just about filling a mind with knowledge but igniting a lifelong love of learning. Embrace your unique learning style and pave your own path to success. Happy learning!