Learning Styles: An Important Key

Each of us has different learning styles that come most naturally to us. Which ones do you prefer?

Clearly, human beings learn in different ways. For example, some people learn best when they can listen to a lecture or talk about what they know with a colleague.

Some learn best when they can read and write about about a subject in a quiet, peaceful room.

Others prefer to make a graph of what they are learning or to draw a picture of it. Still others prefer to build a model with their hands and manipulate it from different angles.

Learning Styles

VAK? VARK? Huh?!

Have you ever seen these odd words? They are simply acronyms to help us remember the basic learning styles. VAK stands for visual, auditory and kinesthetic, while VARK stands for visual, auditory, reading/writing and kinesthetic.

Each of these describes a basic approach to, or way of, learning.

Visual learners learn best when they can see pictures of what they are learning. They prefer to write information down rather than to hear it, they like graphs and diagrams and handouts, and they need to see assignments written down on the board.

Auditory learners learn best when they can hear, talk about and debate what they are learning. They thrive in small group discussions, enjoy listening to books on tape, and love hearing and telling stories.

Kinesthetic learners learn best when they can conduct physical experiments, move around the room, build up and take apart things with their hands, go on field trips, and use tools.

Reading/writing learners have a strong preference for the written word, so they tend to thrive in classrooms that require a lot of reading and essay writing. As they read, you can frequently find them with a yellow marker and pen in their hands so they can underline important passages and make notes in the margins.

A Personal Example

I am a very strong reading/writing learner with a strong auditory undercurrent. I love to read and write about what I am learning (and I have a yellow marker in my purse, next to my bed, in my office, and on the coffee table next to my chair in the living room!). I thrive in classrooms where students talk about ideas and then extend their knowledge through the written word.

However, I rarely draw pictures of what I am learning, am not very good at using tools to fix things, and can drive down the street for years without really seeing the buildings I pass by.

In contrast, my husband seldom contributes during classroom discussions, and he falls asleep (and begins to snore!) in lectures. He has a photographic memory for the layout of machines and design specs, however, and can build and fix just about anything. As a learner, he is happiest when he can move around and physically manipulate what he is studying.

This is why I became a writer, editor and language teacher and he became a mechanical engineer (first career) and then a cabinetmaker (second career).

Which Learning Styles Do You Prefer?

Most formal teaching (the kind that takes place in school, university and corporate classrooms across the country) draws heavily on the spoken (lectures) and written word. If you are struggling to learn successfully in these circumstances, perhaps it is because you have a completely different way of learning from your instructor.

So what can you do?

If you know the learning modes that come most naturally to you, you will be able to use them to help you succeed—regardless of your instructor's approach in the classroom.

Test Yourself!

To discover the learning modes that you prefer, go to: Learning Style Tests

Learning Styles Test

The Next Step

After you know your preferred learning styles, the next step is to discover your preferred Multiple Intelligences

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