There are three primary types of learning styles, as defined by teacher Neil Fleming: visual, auditory, and kinesthetic. Most people learn best through one or two of these methods, but there are ways to use all three learning styles to your advantage. There is also the read/write aspect of learning, which complete’s Fleming’s VARK method, but today, we’re going to talk about the first three.
This blog post explores each type of learning and provides examples of how you can use them to improve your career skills.
What is a learning style?
According to the University of Vanderbilt’s Center for Teaching, a learning style is how we “gather, sift through, interpret, organize, come to conclusions about, and ‘store’ information for further use.” It’s an individual’s natural preference for acquiring and processing new information.
People have different learning styles because they vary in their ability or need to process information by sight, sound, and touch. Some may prefer visual aids like charts, while others will learn better through listening (auditory) or doing things physically (kinesthetic).
As we go through the post, we’ll talk about more specific examples of each type of learning.
Auditory learning is a type of learning used when people use verbal communication or sounds to understand something better than they would have otherwise been able to do purely by reading alone.
This type of learner typically enjoys participating in discussions and listening carefully during lectures because they need the sound component for optimal comprehension.
Auditory learners typically enjoy gathering information through things like:
Auditory learners prefer these types of methods over text-based sources like books and articles. They focus best when there are no distractions like music or other people talking while trying to focus on learning. Those things could take away from what needs their attention right now.
Strengths of auditory learners
Auditory learners are solid at:
- Repeating back details from lectures when asked questions
- Holding conversations
- Verbal communication
Weaknesses of auditory learners
On the other hand, auditory learners can struggle with:
- Any distraction (people talking, music playing) can take away from their focus needed to learn the material at hand.
- Environment where they can’t verbally participate (discussions with others or answering questions). They might feel lost and struggle to follow along.
- Silence (it, too, can be distracting, according to Western Governors University)
How to use auditory learning to help you advance in your career
If you learn best by listening to things, try and find a job with an environment that involves open communication, regular feedback in meetings with staff, and the opportunity to use your listening skills to improve your knowledge and skill set.
Take advantage of opportunities to repeat information after hearing it from a professor or coworker, and make sure to be vocal during meetings and presentations (if allowed) so that you can get your point across effectively.
Visual learning is when people use diagrams, color-coordination, pictures, and other visual elements to understand something better than they would have otherwise been able to do purely by listening or speaking alone.
This type of student typically enjoys reading textbooks or attending lectures where the material is presented on slides (including charts/graphs).
For example, if you’re trying to learn about economics, an infographic might be more helpful than just listening to someone talk about it.
Strengths of visual learners
Visual learners are strong at:
- Organizing colors and arranging text and things they saw visually in their mind
- General organization
- Following instructions and directions that are written down and explained
- Memorizing material
Weaknesses of visual learners
Sometimes visual learners can struggle when:
- Information isn’t presented to them in a visual format (text, graphics, etc.)
- They are restricted from jotting down notes or drawing diagrams that help them understand things
- They aren’t allowed to experiment with how they visualize information
How to use visual learning to help you advance in your career
If you’re a visual learner, take advantage of opportunities to create presentations for coworkers or clients to get your point across effectively. Also, make sure to take notes when attending lectures to reference them later on if needed.
If possible, try and create a visual representation of the material for yourself during tutorials by drawing out pictures to help make sense of what is being discussed. This will also help solidify those concepts more firmly into memory. And when trying to stay organized with work, color-code charts, sticky notes, and other managerial tasks.
Kinesthetic learning is a type of learning used when people use their physical senses (touch, movement, and feeling) to understand something better than they would have otherwise been able to do purely by reading or hearing about it. This learner typically enjoys hands-on activities, experiments, practical exercises, and role-playing.
Additionally, a kinesthetic learner may find paying attention in a traditional classroom difficult. This is because sitting for long periods does not allow them to move around, which can help with focus and engagement.
Strengths of kinesthetic learners
Some strengths of kinesthetic learners include:
- Retaining information from hands-on activities and experiments
- Engaging and games and physical learning experiences
- Balance, as they prefer move their bodies around while working and learning
- Helping captivate others with their energy and engagement
Weaknesses of kinesthetic learners
Kinesthetic learners can struggle when they are:
- Asked to sit down and remain inactive for long stretches
- Discouraged from fidgeting or moving around when the situation requires general immobility
- Presented information without the opportunity for the learner to absorb or repeat the information while doing something physical
- Forced to stay in one learning environment over the course of a day
How to use kinesthetic learning to help you advance in your career
Take advantage of opportunities at work to move around and be physically active. When having a conversation with someone, don’t be afraid to move around, talk with your hands, and be generally physical.
Look for games or activities that you can do outside of learning space to help reinforce material you are trying to learn. For example, after a conversation with your boss about upcoming responsibilities, go on a walk and repeat information you talked about.
If possible, try and find a job where you can moving your body around to stay engaged and focused. (It’s tough to do this in 9-to-5 desk jobs, though there are still ways to make this work.) This could include working as a personal trainer, tour guide, or anything else that allows for physical activity throughout each day.
Why is it important to find the right learning style for you?
Each type of learning has its unique advantages and disadvantages, which is why it’s important to know what kind of learner you are. Once you understand this, you can start looking for ways to improve your learning experience by taking advantage of what works best for you. Different jobs require various skills, and if you can learn in a way that is best suited for you, it makes acquiring and developing those skills much easier.
When we get bored, our focus drops, and we are less likely to remember what we learned. So finding new and exciting ways to learn will keep us engaged while helping us stay on track. In addition, using multiple learning styles helps prevent boredom when trying to take in new information.
How can you use these different learning styles to your advantage?
If you know what kind of learner you are, it’s easier to find the right resources and tools to help you learn. You can also adjust how you study, absorb information, take critique, communicate with your coworkers, or prepare for presentations.
What if I’m not sure which type of learner I am?
If you don’t know what type of learner you are, you can try different learning options until you ultimately find your own style. Trial and error will play a significant role here.
Hopefully the previous sections have given you a decent idea, too. Do you pay attention to information more when someone is speaking or when it’s written down on a PowerPoint slide? Or how about if someone is walking and talking with you when they present information?
Knowing which type of learner you are is the first step in finding better ways to learn and remember new information. Once you know how your brain prefers to take in information, start looking for opportunities to improve your learning experience using these different techniques.
Knowing what type of learner you are will help you use the correct methods and tools to gather information and improve in the workplace. Everyone learns differently. There isn’t necessarily one “right” way to do things. Find what works best for you, and tailor your learning experiences to that general method of learning.
As you continue on your learning journey, head over to the Insight Global job board, where you will find thousands of job listings that line up to the type of learner you are.