The 4 Learning Styles and Why You Need to Know Them

To make learning as effective as possible, it is important to understand which method of learning works best for you. Knowing your learning style allows you to develop learning strategies that will optimize your learning session such as note-taking, creating mind-maps, using charts, reading aloud, etc.

One of the most popular learning style theories is New Zealand-based teacher, Neil D. Flemming’s VARK model. According to him, there are four modes of learning – visual, aural, reading/writing, and kinesthetic or multimodal. 

Visual: a visually dominant learner absorbs and retains information better when it is presented in diagrams, charts, graphs, arrows, circles, and symbols. If you are a visual learner, you understand and retain information best taken by using pictures, videos, books with diagrams, flowcharts, organizational charts, and slides with emphasis on design. 

Aural: an auditory dominant learner prefers listening to what is being presented. If you respond best to voices, especially from lectures, group discussions, online lessons, podcasts, and talking on the phone, you are probably an auditory learner. This means you learn best by commenting on ideas, repeating information to others, explaining new ideas, and even having conversations with yourself.

Reading/Writing: a reading or writing dominant learner prefers information displayed in words. Do you remember and organize things in your mind by taking notes? If so, then you will get the full benefits of your learning session by using text-based inputs and outputs – reading and writing in all forms especially manuals, reports, essays, assignments, lists, quotations, and handouts.

Kinesthetic: a kinesthetic dominant learner prefers physical experiences. You might notice that you prefer a hands-on approach to learning and often find yourself responding well to demonstrations, simulations, case studies, live practices, and applications. If you are a kinesthetic learner, you will often have a strong preference for learning from the experience of doing something.

Multimodal: a multimodal learner does not have a standout mode of learning. This means you are flexible in learning preferences and switches from mode to mode depending on what you are working with. Learning is context specific, which means you choose a mode to suit a specific activity or situation. 

What’s your learning style? Understanding your learning preference will help you develop more effective strategies for gaining knowledge more actively and efficiently. Furthermore, this allows you to understand how other people in your team best learn new information. The VARK model is a useful tool for optimizing your team’s performance by giving you information on how to modify learning materials that powerfully engage each person in your team. 

In my motivational keynote speeches, I try to utilize all four modes to ensure that each person is fully engaged. Time is limited in a keynote speech, and I realize that retention is highest when all four modes of learning are embedded in my presentation.

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