What type of learner are you?

September 15, 2008

by Jenni Sebora

Learning is the natural process of making sense of information and experiences that is fostered through interactions with others. And learning is not just something that children do in school. We are all learners, and our mind is the most powerful tool we will ever possess.

Learning is a lifelong process, and experts tell us we continually learn, change and grow throughout our life. That’s exciting. For me, I love learning new things, and I hope that will never change.

We are all learners, but we all may learn differently. There is no one best way to learn. Some of us may be more visual learners, or auditory learners, or tactile/kinesthetic learners or, most often, a combination with one learning style being dominant.

Studies convey that approximately 65 percent of the population are visual learners; 30 percent are auditory and 5 percent are tactile learners, with again, most people being a combination of these learner styles.

Learning styles are part of people’s personal characteristics. A learning style is a particular way in which the mind receives and processes information, workshop presenter Becky Thelen noted in a workshop on learning styles that I attended a few years ago.

I know personally, I am more a visual learner. I have a tendency to forget names but remember faces; I prefer visual directions, diagrams, pictures versus just auditory directions, etc. I like to see things and may close my eyes to recall something – to visualize it.

During a church service, I get the most out of the lessons when I can read and follow along, as well as listen. When learning a spelling word, I learn it best by writing it down and seeing it or visualizing it in my mind. Even as an adult learner, it is important to have this information so I know how to take information in best.

The website www.lessontutor.com noted that according to the latest findings by several leading psychologists, there are seven specific types of learning styles: linguistic (loves to read, write, and tell stories), logical (mathematically inclined), spatial (visualizers), musical, bodily (always on the move), interpersonal (social butterflies), intrapersonal (strong willed, works best alone).

Many experts categorize learning styles into three categories: visual, auditory and tactile. The visual learner learns best by seeing, notices the small details and learns best when things are written out. They have to see it. The visual learner may observe every little facial expression and try to read moods by looking at facial expressions.

Pictures, videos, TV, people watching, posters, diagrams, visual directions, and movies may be preferred methods of taking in information and may work best for visual learners.

Of course, the auditory learner learns best by hearing and will be sensitive to noises, voice, tone, and inflection. They think in sounds, may forget faces but remember names and what they talked about; prefers the telephone versus face-to-face meetings; may prefer to listen to the radio and music; likes to talk and converse with others; prefers verbal directions and may prefer learning by hearing and telling.

Learning by doing, touching, feeling and moving are the preferences of the kinesthetic or tactile learner. This type of learner prefers to be active and involved, and may talk with hands and gestures as well; may not be able to sit for long periods of time; may ignore directions and just jump right in and figure things out as go along; remembers best what they did together when meeting someone; when being taught something they may prefer to watch someone do the activity to see how it’s done and then try it themselves.

As noted previously, we all have elements of each learning style, but the website noted that one or two types stand out in each of us.

It’s good to know what type of learner you are and what type of learner your child is to maximize learning advantages.

As Thelen put it in her learning styles workshop, “The environment is the total picture; it is the stage on which children play out the themes of childhood.”

It is important that our children have opportunities to be loud and that there be quiet times; it is important that there be occasions for children to be messy and creative, to be active and independent, that their various senses are considered – the lighting, the smell. A child’s environment is the stage on which they play out their childhood.

(Source: www.lessontutor.com; “Exploring Your Role,” Mary R. a long 2000; “Student Teaching, 4th” Edition, Jeanne M. Machado 2001, www.learnativity.com).