What Type of Learner Are You? Get the Most Out of Your Learning Style.

We should always be striving to learn and grow, but it takes time. Who doesn’t wish to learn faster and with less effort? By discovering and better understanding your learning styles, you can employ techniques that will improve the rate and quality of your learning.

As you reflect on your preferred study activities and how you have successfully retained information in the past, you may already have an idea of your learning style. For example, you may find it baffling how some students can study by simply rewriting their notes; meanwhile, you enjoy doodling all over yours. For you, verbal input often goes in one ear and out the other, but once you get the opportunity to be hands-on, fiddle around, and experiment, everything starts to make sense. This is your learning style at play. 

Influential studies have identified four learning styles: Visual, Auditory, Reading/Writing, and Kinesthetic, also known as the VARK model. 

Visual Learners

Visual learners best absorb information when they see the material being presented. They have strong visualisation skills, often associating subjects, ideas, and tasks with images. The use of videos, maps, diagrams, charts, graphs, colours, and patterns help them learn better. They pay close attention to body language and have a keen awareness of aesthetics and the physical environment. 

If you are a visual learner, you may find it useful to organise notes in your preferred structured format to help you retain information. Document key points in colours or highlight them so that they stand out more clearly in your memory. Enhance your study materials using illustrations and symbols, and try drawing mind-maps, models, and comparison charts to help you link concepts and ideas together. Use your keen visual and body language reading skills to observe people and pick up clues, attitudes, or feelings about the subject matter.

Scholarship Guide What Type of Learner Are You? Get The Most Out of Your Learning Style. listening man

Auditory Learners

Auditory learners relate most effectively to the spoken word. They are likely to accurately remember details of information heard in conversations and respond well to verbal instructions. You can quite easily identify them in the classroom as they often volunteer to answer questions and actively participate in classroom discussions. You may sometimes hear them talk to themselves as they repeat information and try to internalise new knowledge. Often information written down will have little meaning to them until it has been heard. As such, lectures, speeches, TED talks, and audiobooks are amongst their favourite learning platforms. They also thrive in working groups and brainstorming sessions because they can talk through information. 

If you are an auditory learner, get the most out of your learning style by asking questions or verbally seeking clarifications. Paraphrasing another speaker or summarising a conversation can also help you further solidify the subject matter in mind and encode the information into memory. Try recording your lectures but do ask for consent beforehand. You can record yourself reciting your notes out loud or use text-to-speech tools to achieve the same output. Study with others so that you can have the opportunity to express your ideas, articulate answers, and explain to others, providing you with instant feedback about your level of understanding. Picking up a foreign language may be relatively easy for you, so why not?

Scholarship Guide What Type of Learner Are You? Get The Most Out of Your Learning Style. notetaking

Reading/Writing Learners

Reading/Writing learners learn primarily by, well, reading and writing. These learners often take verbatim notes in class. They need to read information from written materials and may rewrite them to help them process their thoughts. They learn best from books, written notes, and journals, using dictionaries and definitions to help them understand concepts. When watching videos, they will likely prefer to have the closed captions turned on.

If you are a reading/writing learner, almost the opposite of auditory learners who are quick at verbal processing, give yourself time to think and write your thoughts down. When studying, rewrite notes or add notes to existing materials to help you retain information. Put ideas and concepts into words and organise the key points into lists. Use headphones to help cut out distractions, if necessary.

Scholarship Guide What Type of Learner Are You? Get The Most Out of Your Learning Style. running man

Kinesthetic Learners

Kinesthetic learners learn best by moving and doing. They are probably the more fidgety individuals in a group. Movement is their natural learning style, and it helps them make connections in their brain. These learners cannot simply read a manual and know how to execute but need to go through the motions or do it themselves to comprehend and learn. To be able to see a demonstration first-hand or work with something tangible greatly benefits their learning journey. 

If you are a kinesthetic learner, you are the doer of the team. Actively take part in the learning process and be as hands-on as much as possible. Volunteer for demonstrations or even help the teacher run quick errands. You will love field trips. Choose to present your assignment creatively because it is what you do best. Work with flip charts or study tools that are interactive. When revising for exams, pacing with study materials in hand can help you dispel the discomfort of sitting too long. You can also increase your chances of excelling by taking practice tests. 

Final Words

Note that learning styles are not closed boxes to define individuals and their personalities. Whilst we each have a dominant learning style, most of us adapt and deploy different learning styles in different scenarios, sometimes even combining them. Your learning style can also change over time.

Benefit from understanding the learning style of yours and those around you. Beyond your academic development, there will come a time when it is your turn to impart information and knowledge, such as delivering a presentation, giving out instructions, or mentoring. Using this knowledge, you can better cater your methods to the varying learning styles within your audience and find the best ways to engage them. (Note that one of the best ways to learn is also to teach!)

Finally, motivation paves the way to learning. Avid learners tend to have an edge in learning more effectively and successfully. So, keep learning! (Speaking of which, Gardner’s theory of multiple intelligences, suggesting 8 types of intelligence people may possess, may be of interest to you to understand your strengths and learning preferences.)