Learning Styles

Do you need to see a name written before you remember it? I do. I’m a visual learner. Research on personality and brain function, especially related to the differences in left and right hemispheric functions, indicate that each person stores and communicates information in a preferred way. Each of us has a predominate style, all of us use some of every style, and most of us have a least preferred style. When you know how you learn, you can develop strategies to improve your learning. There is no best style but like styles tend to exchange information more effectively. You can also identify and adapt to teaching styles which are unlike your preferred learning style.

Four Learning Styles

Though there are many names and descriptions for different learning styles, the most practical method for identify each style is by its preferred perceptual sense. Thus their are four styles. Click on the name of the style for a link showing the characteristics of that style.

VISUAL: Visual learners prefer seeing information, prefer symbols, charts, diagrams, pictures (including motion), and colors. A person with this style will underline, highlight, draw symbols, and often doodle. This style is easily distracted by images and may “tune out” lectures.

AUDITORY: Auditory learners prefer lectures and, if not shy, are eager to discuss any topic. A person with this style will become so “caught up” in a lecture that no notes are taken, thus a tape recorder can be helpful. This style likes group work and may read/study out loud.

KINESTHETIC: Kinesthetic learners prefer to learn by doing most often using trial and error (they read the instructions as a last resort). A person with this style prefers lab work, field activities, and objects to manipulate. This style will day-dream instead of listening to lectures, taking notes, or reading. This style likes to get involved and get things done. This is the least common teaching style.

aNALYTIC Analytic learners read, think about it, reread, organize, think about it, write, think about it, rewrite, think about it, reorganize, and uses many reference materials. A person with this style likes clearly stated goals, lists, patterns, check-offs, practice sets, and homework. This style prefers the detail often letting someone else worry about the “big picture.

To help identify your style link to an inventory. The web references on that page list more surveys.

Using Your Learning Styles - Study & Test Aids

The following lists some things to do and some things to avoid for each style.



Study AidsTest Aids

Use mind mapping

Replace words with symbols

Turn phrases into images

Reconstruct images in different ways

Draw diagrams, symbols, etc. on the test

Practice turning visual back into words

Picture your notes in your mind


Allow visual distraction in study areas

Concentrate on developing models instead of studying the material

Put studying off

Leave anything blank – put words around the idea for some credit




Record class lectures

Tape your summaries

Read out loud

Teach others

Use study groups

Read questions as though you are speaking including “common” usage of words

In your mind, listen to your tapes


Allow yourself to be diverted by sounds

Make disturbing sounds (pencil taping)

Not make notes

Hesitate to “hear” the words you read



Create models to manipulate e.g. pennies for electrons, nickels for neutrons, & quarters for protons

Use note summaries

Use illustrations

Talk/study with other kinesthetics (stay on topic)

Write practice answers

Role-play the exams

Draw your manipulative models


Put studying off

Skip any reading material – especially the introduction and summary

Assume you know it – test yourself

Solve the wrong problem

Make hasty decisions – (a) may be the correct answer but “all the above” might be better

Review and evaluate before turning anything in.



Write words and lists over and over

Rewrite ideas into different ways

Learn the teachers organization strategy

Use organization charts for ideas

Practice objective tests

Study I-notes

Write lists

Check items off


Do too much

Spend too much time on impractical ideas

Only study the details – look for comprehension

Make something exactly right – losing one point for a small mistake is better than not having time to get to an entire problem

Expect questions exactly the way you studied the material