Even if you haven’t heard of the four main learning styles before, you’ve probably noticed you learn better in certain situations than others. Some of us love charts and graphics, while others are happy to listen to a lecturer speak for hours. A few of us have to try things ourselves before we understand how they work. Modern thinking categorises the way we best absorb information into four main learning styles.

Why are these styles important?

For centuries, academic teaching was fairly linear in its approach to learning. Aside from learning a language, most education was centred around auditory learning, supplemental reading and response writing. This was basically a simple 1-to-many relationship in the classroom, reading around the topic at home and writing an essay for marking.

This method worked for many. It hit three of the main learning styles, even if they weren’t recognised as such. However, it was largely inefficient. Those of us who are auditory learners did not gain much from essay writing or reading around the topic at home. In fact, it can often be quite frustrating to have to read additional information if you’ve already understood the topic from the auditory based classroom activity.

What are the four learning styles?

The VARK model covers visual, auditory, reading & writing, and kinesthetic learners. Here’s what each of these mean:

1. Visual – Visual learners prefer graphical depictions of the topic. You’ll often see these people drawing mind maps, or having to spell words out on a board before they remember them. Visual learners like infographics and figuratively take pictures in their mind to file and look up whenever they need to recall information.
2. Auditory – Also known as “aural” learners who prefer to learn through listening to information presented to them vocally. These learners like to debate with others and may learn well from podcasts and audiobooks. If forced to learn by reading alone, they may actually read aloud to help the information sink in.
3. Reading & Writing – Some people love to read and write. These people you often find making extensive notes in the classroom. The information doesn’t sink in until they’ve read about it or written it down.
4. Kinesthetic – People who learn by doing. This is why Chemistry teachers get you to play with the bunsen burners at school or design technology teachers get you to make wooden puppets. Some of us only understand how something works when we’ve had to do it ourselves… much to the frustration of the auditory learners and readers who just want to be told how it works!

Can you have more than one learning style?

Of course! In fact, a comprehensive study of college age adults found that the gross majority of people are multimodal. This means that we may employ at least 2 styles in order to learn best or we can learn just as well from one method as another. Knowing your learning style is a great way to improve your learning outcomes, for example, by not feeling guilty when you favour a YouTube video to a long form blog post (like this one?). When you know which way(s) works for you, you can decide how best to approach new topics.

How Learnium can help improve learning outcomes

We believe taking your preferred learning style(s) into consideration leads to better learning outcomes. Learnium PLE does this by quizzing you to discover your learning style on first launch. We then serve learning bites in your preferred learning style modes – visually, audio-heavy, reading or asking you to learn by doing. It allows education establishments and organisations to customise the learning journey for each of their users.

Get in touch today and we’ll show you we can best engage your learners and improve learning outcomes together.