I remember clearly being in school and being taught about learning styles. The teacher went through the model taught to her, which boiled down to auditory, visual or kinaesthetic.

  • Auditory being people who learn best by hearing something,
  • Visual best by seeing or reading something,
  • Kinaesthetic best by doing something.

It made sense to me that I must be a Visual learner, given that I was the designated class cartoonist, at least when there was a Rugrats character to draw.
Later, I learned that this was just one of many (supposedly there are around 70) models to describe our preferred learning style.
It’s also possible – in fact very likely- you have a mixture of styles. Some may be best used in certain circumstances. For example, learning how to put an Ikea wardrobe together requires different processing than learning a language.
Plus, you can develop or change your preferences over time: in fact 1 did this through listening to podcasts. Now, I process audio – with or without accompanying images – way better than I did at school.
I still think it’s useful to explore learning styles, and not just the ones you think you have a preference over. It’s useful not just to help you learn stuff more effectively, but to communicate better with others,
When you know what style someone else prefers, you can accommodate them. It’s something I try to take into account in my online courses, as well as when I’m coaching someone or consulting with a client.
If I pickup that they’re a visual/spatial learner, I scribble down images to represent my ideas, or use visual analogies to give from to my sometimes vague and floaty concepts.
Or if they’re kinaesthetic I try to slow my speech a bit. This is another weird factoid: apparently kinaesthetic types speak slower.
There are 7 styles that I like to take into account now, which gives a slightly more detailed range of preferences than I was taught at school.

  • Visual – with pictures
  • Auditory – prefer using sound
  • Verbal – with speech & writing
  • Kinaesthetic – doing with your body, touch
  • Mathematic – using logic, numbers, systems
  • Social – in groups
  • Solitary – alone

I dig deeper into these learning styles in today’s episode, and what knowing your learning style might mean for you.

Take the quiz