Learning Styles

A course’s design should allow students to customize their experience based on their goals and learning styles.

Whether you teach in-person or online, consideration should be given to the relationship between course goals, activities, and evaluations to ensure engaged teaching and learning.

An awareness of different learning styles enables instructors build learning experiences that help types of students process and retain information. Small modifications to basic course design can make a big difference in expanding its utility for different learning styles.

Instruction that focuses on development of intuition, sensing, and imagination, as well as analysis, reason, and sequential problem solving will reach a greater number of students with various learning styles.

Types of Learning

Learning Style Student Characteristics Instructor Strategies
Active/Kinesthetic
(About 5% of the population)
Likes trying things, being physically involved, and working in groups. Learns best by moving around. Has difficulty sitting through lectures. Use discussions, problem solving-activities. Students retain information better when doing something with it.
Reflective Likes thinking about things and working alone. Has difficulty sitting through lectures if not given enough time to digest the information. Provide time to think about the material, not just read and memorize. Write summaries and devise questions and possible applications to the material.
Sensing Likes learning facts and using established methods. Doesn’t like surprises. Good with details, memorizing facts, and hands-on work. Has difficulty with abstract, theoretical material. Establish a connection between course materials and the real world with examples of concepts, procedures, and practical applications.
Intuitive Likes discovering possibilities, relationships, and innovation. Good with grasping new concepts and works quickly. Connect interpretations and theories with facts to help in learning. Provide time to read questions thoroughly and recheck results.
Visual
(About 65% of the population)
Likes learning with visual cues. Learns best from what is seen. Incorporate meaningful pictures, diagrams, charts, timelines, and videos. Use demonstrations when possible. List key points and color code relationships using concept maps.
Verbal/Auditory
(About 30% of the population)
Likes learning by using words Learns best from what is heard. Summarize or outline content verbally so students can transcribe it in their own words. Work through ideas in groups.
Sequential Likes learning in logical steps and in a linear format. Break material down into small, logical chunks. Give overviews of material before getting into content specifically.
Global Likes digesting materials in leaps and bounds. Looks at the big picture and tries to make connections prior to knowledge. Provide overviews of material before getting into specifics. Show how topics are related to other relevant course materials or knowledge students may have from previous experiences.

Multiple Intelligences

Using different types of activities and assessments can account for different types of intelligence and create richer learning experiences for all students.

Verbal/Linguistic Learners

Word Players use words and language.

  • They like to read, write, and tell stories.
  • They’re good at memorization and knowing names, places, trivia, and dates.
  • They’re best at saying, hearing, and seeing words.

Logical/Mathematical Learners

Questioners employ inductive and deductive thinking and reasoning, as well as use numbers and recognize abstract patterns.

  • They like to experiment, work with numbers, and explore patterns.
  • They’re good at math, logic, reasoning, and problem solving.
  • They’re best at categorizing, classifying, and working with abstract patterns.

Visual/Spatial Learners

Visualizers visualize objects and spatial dimensions and create internal images and pictures.

  • They like to draw, build, design, create, watch movies, and play with machines.
  • They’re good at imagination, sensing changes, mazes and puzzles, and map reading.
  • They’re best at visualizing, dreaming, working with pictures.

Musical/Rhythmic Learners

Music Lovers recognize tonal patterns and sounds and are sensitive to rhythms and beats.

  • They like to sing, hum, play instruments, listen to music, and respond to music.
  • They’re good at rhythm, melody, and music.
  • They’re best at picking up sounds and melodies, noticing rhythms, and keeping time.

Body/Kinesthetic Learners

Movers employ the wisdom of the body and the ability to control physical motion.

  • They like to move around, touch and talk, use body language.
  • They’re good at physical activities.
  • They’re best at moving around, interacting with space, touching.

Interpersonal Learners

Socializers use person-to-person communications and relationships.

  • They like lots of friends, talking to people, joining groups.
  • They’re good at understanding people, leading others, organizing, communicating.
  • They’re best at sharing, comparing, cooperating, and interviewing.

Intrapersonal Learners

Individuals use the spiritual, inner states of being, including self reflection and self awareness.

  • They like working alone and pursuing individual interests.
  • They’re good at understanding themselves, following instincts, originality, and goal setting.
  • They’re best at working alone and on individual projects, using self-paced instruction, and having their own space.