Remember in elementary school the different learning styles? To learn shapes, you’d be given a bunch of different wooden shapes to play with and you’d put them together to make other shapes. Or you’d sing a silly song to learn the 50 states. When getting ready for spelling tests maybe your teacher would repeat the word, spell it out letter-by-letter on the board, and have you repeat. When breaking down a short story, you’d get together with classmates and talk it out.
What happened to all that? The older you get, the more that “extra” stuff seems to disappear. Nowadays you’re likely learning through textbooks and PowerPoints—and while that may work perfectly well for some students, for others it can be a bit of a struggle. Different students learn in different ways, because they are different learning styles—seven styles, to be precise.
Let’s break down the seven styles, maybe you’ll discover what kind of learning suits you best.
Also known as “spatial”, this type of learning involves pictures, spatial understanding, and images. You like to be able to see things in order to understand them. If you’ve ever wanted to create a graphic organizer to keep track of the characters in a Shakespeare play, you might be a visual learner.
Graphs, charts, diagrams, maps, and other visual models are a big help for spatial learners. Being able to group, organize, and see things laid out in a different way can be the key to unlocking understanding for these students.
If you’re the type of person who can pick up quickly on song lyrics, rhythms, or rhymes, you’re likely an aural learner. Also called auditory, this type of learning utilizes sound to memorize and understand–whether speaking or through music. Text on a page might feel a little dense, but when spoken out loud aural students can focus in more.
Reading aloud, reciting things to memorize them, learning songs (think ‘Wrist bone’s connected to the arm bone’ style), and listening to verbal instructions or information work best for aural learners.
Verbal and aural might overlap a little bit, but verbal learners focus on the words themselves rather than just the sounds. Using both speech and writing, verbal—or linguistic—learners learn best through text and dialogue. Do you do your best learning through simply reading? Do you have an easy time memorizing poems or lines for a play? You could be a verbal learner.
Linguistic learners tend to use tactics that involve words. Reading, writing, speaking, creating word associations or acronyms, and other forms of word play, work best for these learners.
Ever heard the phrase “hands-on approach”? A lot of people like to physically interact with the world in order to understand it better—and they just might be physical—or kinesthetic—learners. These students like to use their hands, sense of touch, and motion to learn.
Flashcards are one way for a kinesthetic learner to study, the action of drawing a diagram or sketching something out is another—it does require physical movement, after all, and for physical learners it aids with memorization.
Do you enjoy charts, proofs, formulas, and really understanding how something ticks? You’re probably a logical learner. Also known as mathematical (though the learning type extends beyond just that subject), these learns like data points and systematic approaches to things.
Logical thinkers use reason in their learning. Therefore, you can typically find these kinds of students using the following study tactics: creating lists, highlighting, word association, analysis.
Do you enjoy group projects? The days where teachers arrange desks in a circle for discussion? You, my friend, just might be a social learner. Interpersonal learners, as they are sometimes called, prefer learning in groups as opposed to solo.
Social learners are the types to: form study groups, create skits or role-plays, facilitate discussions, and the like.
On the opposite end of the spectrum is the learner that prefers solitude to group-time. Solitary, or intrapersonal learners, learn best when they go solo. If you like being distraction-free and having time to develop your own thoughts or opinions on a subject, you may very well be a solitary learner.
Solitary learners find the following study tactics to be helpful: setting personal goals, having personal interest in a topic, keeping a log or journal, and critical thinking.
Which type of learner are you?
What style of learning do you fall under? Things aren’t so black and white, of course, you may find yourself straddling the line between a few different styles. If you aren’t sure, try out a few different techniques to see what sticks!
Me? I’m a solitary-verbal learner (maybe with a bit of aural thrown in there, I still have some of the educational songs we learned in 5th grade memorized). I do my best studying through reading and writing—I have a knack for remembering information that I’ve written down.
But what works best for you? What kind of learner do you think you are? Tell us in the comments below, and share with everyone the tactics you use!
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