8 types of learning styles (with tips and benefits)

Updated 21 July 2022

There are many ways to learn at work and school, so understanding those styles can help when starting a new class or taking on a new position. Adopting various styles can also help when trying to understand how others learn in the same environments. Knowing which style works best is essential to learning new information more effectively. In this article, we review various learning styles, their benefits, why it's important to understand them and how to use them.

Types of learning styles

There are several types of learning styles that can help you learn, regardless of your environment. Knowing which style to implement for yourself and which style is best for others can help you learn and teach more efficiently. Here are the most common styles of learning:

1. Visual learning

Visual learners process information best through sight. This learner absorbs material best when presented via graphs, images, charts, and maps. Videos and written material work well for the visual learner too, as they can be processed and retained by the learner as a visual memory. Visual learners tend to be observant, with strong attention to detail. Tips for working with visual learners include:

  • Use visual aids in presentations and discussions.

  • Draw diagrams of complex ideas.

  • Provide handouts during presentations or meetings.

  • Allow learners to take notes and sketch images while obtaining information.

  • Provide video tutorials when possible.

2. Auditory learning

Auditory learners process information best by listening to it. They may prefer oral instruction over written directions or visual diagrams. Lectures, podcasts and conversation-based learning are ideal for the auditory learner. Also, while these learners rarely take notes, they may repeat concepts and ideas out loud to help retain the information. Tips for working with auditory learners include:

  • Read written information aloud during presentations and meetings instead of depending on visual aids and handouts. You can also provide audio recordings of training and meetings.

  • Schedule conversation-based meetings and question-answer sessions.

  • Incorporate acronyms and catchy phrases to make information more memorable.

  • Encourage learners to read information out loud and to repeat important concepts.

3. Reading and writing learning

Reading and writing learners process information best when using written materials. Books, reports, handouts and printed slide shows work well for this learner. These learners do best when they take written notes on the provided information. These learners enjoy research and reading, and typically use these tactics to develop their professional skills. Tips for working with reading and writing learners include:

  • Provide text-based visuals to reference during verbal presentations.

  • Encourage note-taking during training and meetings.

  • Provide additional readings for further insight on important topics, which can include physical books or digitally written materials.

  • Assign essays and reports to these learners to test for comprehension.

4. Kinaesthetic learning

Kinaesthetic learners process information best when using a hands-on approach. These learners learn by doing and need to physically participate in the topic being discussed. These learners tend to be energetic and have trouble keeping still. If hands-on learning isn't an option, it's best to incorporate movement in some way to help the kinaesthetic learner stay focused. Tips for working with kinaesthetic learners include:

  • Incorporate movement by having training sessions during a walk, or requiring candidates to walk around a room to obtain information.

  • Kinaesthetic learners strive in role-playing learning scenarios.

  • Have them physically perform the act being learned.

  • Use flashcards or other active approaches to learning.

  • Incorporate frequent short breaks to allow the learner to get up and move. This prevents restlessness and aids in retaining focus on the topic at hand.

5. Logical learning

Logical learners process information best by using rational ordered methods of information processing. They do best when receiving direct instructions and concrete rules. They prefer categorised tasks and information. Logical learners work well with patterns and are capable of quickly identifying relationships within a system. Oftentimes, logical learners are proficient with numbers as well. Logical learners have strong organisation skills. Tips for working with a logical learner include:

  • Provide logical structure, direct instructions and concise goals.

  • Provide facts and figures relevant to the information.

  • Encourage learners to categorise information and tasks using charts, tables and diagrams.

  • Incorporate systems and outline patterns in information. This is especially helpful when learning abstract and complex topics.

  • Provide critical thinking and problem-solving exercises, and encourage independent work sessions to build these skills.

6. Social learning

Social learners process information best through collaboration and communication. They enjoy being part of a group or team. Many social learners are highly extroverted and are skilled at developing relationships. They also appreciate listening to other people's thoughts and ideas. Due to these traits, these individuals do well in leadership roles. Tips for working with social learners include:

  • Provide opportunities to learn and work in groups.

  • Provide feedback and opportunities to discuss their work.

  • Incorporate role-playing techniques that allow for interaction with others.

  • Encourage social learners to teach others how to learn new skills or tasks.

  • Offer opportunities for social learners to speak up about their thoughts, ideas and questions.

Related: Understanding the four main writing styles

7. Solitary learning

Solitary learners process information best when working independently. They strive in quiet environments and often keep to themselves. These individuals are introspective and reflective, and they tend to have strong self-motivation and management skills. The solitary learner may have more than one preferred style. For example, an individual can be a kinaesthetic solitary learner, meaning they learn best through performing a task hands-on independently. Tips for working with a solitary learner include:

  • Provide private and quiet areas.

  • Ask questions and check in often, as these learners tend not to speak up on their own.

  • Provide goals where you can check their progress and help keep them motivated.

  • Provide opportunities to deepen understanding of concepts by connecting them to things they have learned previously.

  • Provide resources to access independently.

8. Naturalistic learning

Naturalistic learners process information best when working with nature. These individuals benefit from hands-on experiences with the natural world. They enjoy seeing and interacting with natural materials and objects. Naturalistic learners tend to have an interest in science and environmental topics. They tend to find patterns, conduct experiments and use scientific theory to support their understanding of topics. Tips for working with naturalistic learners include:

  • Give them opportunities to perform experiments and work hands-on.

  • Relate information to the environment and other natural topics to provide value to this learner.

  • Encourage naturalistic learners to draft reports and log findings.

  • Treat complex concepts like ecosystems, by emphasising the systems, interactions and patterns between tasks or pieces of information.

  • Allow for learning outside, even if the topic is unrelated to nature.

Related: The differences between skills and abilities

What are learning styles?

Learning styles are typically how individuals gather, comprehend and retain new information, knowledge and workable skill sets. They can help you understand how to manage, lead, learn and complete tasks to the best of your ability. Individuals can determine their learning style by assessing their strengths, weaknesses and preferences. Consider the times that you tried to learn new information, perform a new task or develop a new skill. Determine what worked and didn't work, and use that information to try new methods related to your learning style.

Related: Team Building Skills And Exercises

Benefits of learning about the different styles

There are many reasons to learn about different styles of learning. Whether you are an employee or an individual, you can benefit by understanding what style you most closely align with and how to use that knowledge to your advantage. Being aware of your own learning style allows you to ask for the resources and adjustments necessary for you to learn and work most proficiently. When determining your learning style, you assess your areas of strength and weakness. This self-analysis can be beneficial in your career and personal development.

As part of a team, it is also helpful to understand the style of members in your group. This helps you be patient with others and provides you with an opportunity to help them. For example, if a team member is a visual learner and your group holds conversation-based meetings, you can suggest offering printed handouts to aid those with different learning types. As a supervisor or someone in a leadership role, it is helpful to understand the varying types of learning styles, so you can accommodate staff, by including multiple learning tactics into training and meetings.

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