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Determining Your Learning Style

Our brains are incredibly complex, and your preferred learning styles may have more influence on your academic career than you realize. Not only do they directly affect the way you learn, they also change the way you internally process experiences, how you recall information, and even the way you speak and interact with others. Understanding your main learning styles are a vital way to ensure you are making the most out of your learning experiences and setting yourself up for success in many different aspects of life. That's why we've broken down the 7 most common learning styles for you to easily review and evaluate. By taking the time to self-reflect and consider your patterns, as well as your likes and dislikes, you can vastly improve your learning experience and alter your study habits for the better.


What Is The Science Behind Learning Styles?

Research shows us that each learning style uses different parts of the brain. By involving more of the brain during learning, we remember more of what we learn. Researchers have been able to determine which areas of the brain are responsible for each learning style. By recognizing and understanding your own learning styles, you can use techniques better suited to you. This will not only improve the speed and quality of your learning, but it will allow information processing and recollection come much easier. The 7 learning styles we will be discussing today have been generalized and group together common ways that people learn. With that being said, the majority of people have a mix of multiple different learning styles. Some people may find that they have a dominant style of learning, with far less use of the other styles, while others may find that they use different styles in different circumstances. There is no right mix, nor are your styles fixed. You are able to develop your ability in less dominant styles, as well as further develop styles that you already primarily use.


Now let's break down the 7 most common learning styles!


1. Visual (Spatial)

Part of the brain associated: The occipital and parietal lobes.

If you are a visual learner, you may find that visualization comes easily to you and that you prefer using pictures, images, and spatial understanding when it comes to learning new information. Some common phrases used by predominantly visual learners include, but are not limited to:

  • Let's look at it differently.

  • I can't quite picture it.

  • Let's draw a diagram or map.

  • I'd like to get a different perspective.

  • I never forget a face.

Because visualization comes so easily, you may have to work to make sure important visualizations stand out more. This makes sure new material is obvious among all the other visual images you have floating around inside your head. If you are a visual learner, here are a few tricks you can use to help enhance your learning experience:

  • Use colour, layout, and spatial organization in your associations. If your surrounding space and work is visually appealing, you will be more inclined to focus on the information being presented.

  • Use mind maps. Use color and pictures in place of text, wherever possible. If you don't work or study with a computer, make sure you have different colour pens and highlighters.

  • Watch online videos on the topics that you are studying.

  • Create a visual narrative in your mind. The visual journey or story technique helps you memorize content that isn't easy to 'see.' The visual story approach for memorizing procedures is a good example of this.

Some pursuits that make the most use of the visual learning style are visual art, architecture, photography, video or film, design, planning (especially strategic), and navigation.


2. Aural (auditory-musical)

Part of the brain associated: The temporal lobes.

If you are an aural learner, you may find that music is a great way to capture your attention and it can easily influence your mood/attitude. You may feel drawn towards a more lecture-based approach and find that studying while listening to music promotes a greater focus and enhances your experience. Individuals whose learning style is predominantly aural tend to use phrases like:

  • That sounds about right.

  • That rings a bell.

  • It's coming through loud and clear.

  • Tune in to what I'm saying.

  • That's music to my ears.


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Making the connection between your inclination towards sound and your study habits can have a great influence on your academic results. Some tips to help you get the most out of your learning experience if you are an aural learner include:

  • Create rhythms, rhymes or short songs out of the material you are studying to make it more engaging and easier to recall.

  • Utilize TedTalks, podcasts, and other recordings to help you gain insight on your work material. You can even have them playing in the backyard while you do chores or other household tasks!

  • Read your textbooks and study notes out loud.

  • Form study groups where you openly discuss the material.

Some careers that use the aural style are playing, conducting, or composing music, sound engineering (mixing and audiovisual work), and guidance counselling or therapy work.


3. Verbal (linguistic)

Part of the brain associated: The temporal and frontal lobes.

If you are a verbal learner, you may find that writing and speaking are your preferred methods when it comes to processing or learning new information. Visual learners may find themselves using phrases like:

  • Tell me word for word.

  • Let's talk later.

  • The word you're looking for is.

  • Let me spell it out for you.

  • In other words.

Saying your thoughts out loud or writing them down can have a great affect on verbal learners and can help sort out information in a more clear and comprehensible manner. If you are a verbal learner, try these techniques:

  • Actively participate in class discussions, both listening and speaking.

  • Mnemonics are your friends for recalling lists of information. Acronym mnemonics use words, focusing on the first letter of the word to make up another word or memorable sequence. You can also make up phrases using the items you want to memorize.

  • When you read content aloud, make it dramatic and varied. Instead of using a monotone voice to go over a procedure, turn it into a lively and energetic speech. Not only does this help your recall, you get to practice your dramatic presence!

  • Rewrite your notes multiple times.

Some jobs that use the verbal style include public speaking, debating, politics, writing, note-taking and journalism.


4. Physical (kinesthetic)

Part of the brain associated: The cerebellum and motor cortex.

If you are a physical learner, you may find that you are most engaged in a hands-on learning atmosphere and you prefer using your body, hands and sense of touch. Individuals whose learning style is physical may find themselves using phrases like these:

  • That feels right to me.

  • Stay in touch.

  • Get in touch with.

  • I have good feelings about this.

  • My gut is telling me.

Physical learning techniques are often the least utilized in the typical education system, as most classrooms are structured around sitting in a desk for hours. Take matters into your own hands (literally) and include touch, action, movement and hands-on work in your learning activities. This can mean:

  • Exercise while you study. Some school libraries have treadmills where students can read and walk at the same time. You can create flashcards to take with you on the go or read while you stretch.

  • Use physical objects as much as possible. Physically touch objects as you learn about what they do. You can even build diagrams or figurines to help further engage you.

  • Keep in mind that writing and drawing diagrams are also physical activities, so don't neglect these classic techniques.

  • Use breathing and relaxation to focus your state while you learn and perform. Focus on staying calm, centred, in-tune with your body.

Pursuits that involve the physical learning style include general physical work, mechanical, construction and repair work, sports and athletics, drama and dancing.


5. Logical (mathematical)

Part of the brain associated: The parietal lobes.

If you are a logical learner, you may find yourself drawn towards more logic-based information, reasoning and systems rather than abstract ideas. These types of learners excel at seeing connections, patterns and relationships between concepts. They are often investigative by nature and enjoy learning the process behind things. A logical learner may use phrases like these:

  • That's logical.

  • Follow the process, procedure, or rules.

  • There's no pattern to this.

  • Let's make a list.

  • Quantify it, or prove it.

Logic learning is one of the most catered to learning styles in the tradition education system, especially in the STEM field. If you are a logical learner, aim to understand the reasons behind the content you are studying and explore the links between various systems. Understanding more detail behind your compulsory content helps you memorize and learn the material that you need to know.

  • Relate patterns in the material to patterns that you experience in real life. If you have a personal experience that mirrors that pattern, it can help you make sense of it.

  • While you study, create and use lists by extracting key points from your material. You may also want to use statistics and other analysis to help you grasp a better understanding.

  • Break large amounts of material into smaller segments and find the key factors that link them together.

  • Create graphs, charts and our outlines of the material and then organize them based on the relationships/patterns you've discovered while learning.

Individuals with a strong logical style are likely to pursue careers in the sciences, mathematics, accounting, detective work, law and computer programming.


6. Social (interpersonal)

Part of the brain associated: The frontal and temporal lobes.

If you are a social learner, you may prefer learning in groups or with other people and excel in social settings. Communicating with others comes naturally and you feel most comfortable when working alongside others. Here are some phrases that may be used by social learners:

  • Let's work on this together.

  • We can work it out.

  • Tell me what you are thinking.

  • Let's pull some people together to discuss.

  • Let's explore our options.

Social learners should aim to work with others as much as possible. Working in a group can have amazing benefits considering the ideas and perspectives are more varied and therefore more creative outcomes can arise. In addition to studying in a group or social setting, try some of these techniques:

  • Ask for peer feedback. This can be done online or through technology as well as in person and can help bounce ideas back and forth.

  • Share your thoughts in school forums and be sure to actively participate in class discussions.

  • Have a tutor or study buddy. This way you can take turns teaching the lesson and quizzing each other.

  • Attend meetings, discussion groups and other events surrounding the topic you are learning about.

Some examples of pursuits that people with a strong social style may follow include counselling, teaching, training and coaching, sales, politics, and human resources.


7. Solitary (intrapersonal)

Part of the brain associated: The frontal and parietal lobes.

If you are a solitary learner, you may find that you prefer to work and spend time alone and you absorb information best when you study in solitude. Phrases that tend to be used by solitary learners are:

  • I'd like some time to think it over.

  • This is what I think or feel about that.

  • I'd like to get away from everyone for a while.

  • I'll get back to you on that.

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Learning in groups can be overwhelming and distracting for solitary learners. Processing information on their own is a necessary part of their learning experience and it helps them grasp new ideas much easier when given the time to self-reflect. Some techniques you can use if you are a solitary learner include:

  • Make sure you have a quiet space where you can study distraction-free.

  • Create personal interests and connections in your topics to help you stay engaged.

  • Keep a log, checklist or journal to ensure you are staying on track with your tasks. This also offers a private way of keeping your thoughts and ideas to yourself.

  • Write down the goals you have for each study session before you begin. This will not only motivate you throughout your time studying, but is also a great way to reflect on your accomplishments.

Those that have a strong solitary style include authors, researchers, park rangers and security guards. In addition, peak performers in any field often have a good solitary style behind other more dominant styles.


We hope you found this helpful and will apply some of these tips and tricks to enhance your education experience. Which learning style do you identify with the most? Let us know in the comments or on Instagram!


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