We all learned about our world through our five senses, using sight, sound, touch, taste, and smell. And we continue to process the information we’ve learned throughout our lives. But most people have one area that they rely on more than others when acquiring new information, which has led to the theory that there are thee basic types of learners: visual auditory, and kinesthetic.
The visual learner prefers to learn by watching and reading. These learners appreciate charts, maps, and pictures. the auditory learner absorbs information by listening and tends to do well during a lecture or an oral presentation. the kin esthetic learner does best when engaged in an activity and is thus often adept at using his hands. Kinesthetic learners can put a model together by trial and error, often glossing over the instructions.
According to Susan Campbell Bartoletti and Elaine Slivinski Lisandrelli, authors of Study Skills Workout, there are other characteristics within each category. They claim that visual learners tend to have neat handwriting, vivid imaginations and prefer order and neatness. Visual learners tend to plan things. Auditory learners tend to get distracted by outside noise, like to discuss things in depth, and display emotions through intonations. They do well when reciting information prior to taking an exam. Kinesthetic learners like to move around the room, sometimes appear impulsive, tend to talk with their hands, and don’t require order and neatness as much as others. They tend to show emotion through their actions.
Why should we know what kind of learner we (and our children) are? Knowing how we most naturally learn helps us to adapt to situations more easily. This is particularly important when you find that your child has recently begun to struggle in school even though he or she is bright and did well during the previous year. Let’s suppose that the teacher he had last year had had a visual style and your child has a visual style as well. There were plenty of pictures and colorful charts that were used routinely.
But that was last year. This year’s teacher has an auditory style, explaining things through lectures. Your child a visual learner, now has difficulty following what’s being said without visual cues. And the teacher may very well be stumped as to why your child is not performing well on class quizzes or exams. The answer might be as simple as the differences in learning styles. This is the time when assessing a child’s particular learning style can improve his outcome and create an understanding between teacher and student such knowledge can foster success through some simple fine-tuning.
The same benefits of understanding an individual’s learning style apply in the workforce. Let’s say you are holding a meeting to discuss a new business project. You’ve given simple clear instructions to your staff, but one of your employees does not seem to understand the project as well as you would like. The reason for this might be the top performer has a kinesthetic learner may need to move about the room and try out portions of the project in order to grasp the concept. By accommodating differed styles, you can move the project forward for the benefit of all. When trying to determine which type of learner you are, or which type of learner your partner or clients are, listen for some clues. The visual learner might use phrases like, “I see your point, I see what you mean,” The auditory learner might say, “I feel where this is going.”
The point is to try to understand and accommodate one another’s learning styles. Cooperation, harmony and balance can be better achieved by acknowledging some of these subtle differences. And that is something that we can all feel good about.