Characteristics of Learning Styles

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Jordan White

Jordan has been a writer, editor and Web researcher for educational publications since 2010. He holds a bachelor's in English from Western Michigan University.

Expert Contributor
Lesley Chapel

Lesley has taught American and World History at the university level for the past seven years. She has a Master's degree in History.

Some of us learn by seeing, others learn by doing, and some even learn by listening. This lesson provides an overview of learning styles, including characteristics of each type of learner. Updated: 07/12/2021

What's a Learning Style?

Each of us is unique. We see things differently. We have our own opinions, our own personalities, even our own fingerprints. Just like our unique fingerprint, we all have a unique learning style. A learning style is a series of theories that explain the differences in our individual patterns of understanding information. We all learn differently, and we prefer information to be presented to us in a particular way - a way that makes it easiest for us to understand.

There are seven different types of learning styles. Each learning style is often referred to using different names. The seven learning styles include:

  • The visual or spatial learning style
  • The aural or auditory or musical learning style
  • The verbal or linguistic learning style
  • The physical or kinesthetic learning style
  • The logical or mathematical learning style
  • The social or interpersonal learning style
  • The solitary or intrapersonal learning style

While each of us learns in a combination of ways comprising of several different learning styles, we typically favor one style and may not use one or more styles at all. Each learning style is an individual way of learning with distinct characteristics that affect both learning and personality.

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Characteristics of Learning Styles

Let's take a look at each individual learning style. As we review the different learning styles, reflect on your own behavior and try to determine what style best suits your learning preferences.

The Visual or Spatial Learner

Visual or spatial learners, as the name suggests, prefer information that is presented in the form of pictures, graphs, and maps. Some of the key characteristics of a visual learner are that they like to use color to organize information, have a good sense of direction, and a good sense of style. It often appears that visual learners are distracted, as they tend to appear as though they are daydreaming, but really, they're just visualizing what they are hearing. They often doodle or scribble and are great at taking notes. They tend to be very organized and like to keep things neat and tidy.

The Aural or Auditory and Musical Learner

Those who fall into the category of aural learners are good with sounds. They typically like music and have a good sense of rhythm. Most aural learners are musically-inclined and can sing well or play a musical instrument. To them, music is an emotional experience. Aural learners can often be found singing in their cars, whistling, or humming as they do their work. In learning environments, aural learners can create jingles or songs to remember material or often enjoy music in the background as they study.

The Verbal or Linguistic Learner

In this case, verbal means words. Verbal learners connect well with written information and spoken word. They enjoy reading and can usually remember what they have read. They are also skilled writers and enjoy learning new words. In speaking and writing, they have an extensive vocabulary. Verbal learners often talk to themselves. They enjoy reading out loud and tend to talk themselves through certain tasks. They also enjoy participating in classroom discussions, as talking their way through the material is a helpful learning strategy.

The Physical or Kinesthetic Learner

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Additional Activities

Prompts About the Characteristics of Learning Styles:

List Prompt:

Make a list of the seven different types of learning styles. You can refer to the lesson, but try to generate as many from memory as you can, and be sure to include all the names of each of the seven different learning styles. At the top of your list, provide the definition of learning style.

Example: Aural or auditory or musical learning style.

Graphic Organizer Prompt 1:

Create a poster, chart, or some other type of graphic organizer that describes the characteristics of spatial or visual learners, aural/auditory or musical learners, and verbal or linguistic learners.

Example: Visual or spatial learners are often skilled at note-taking.

Graphic Organizer Prompt 2:

Make a poster, chart, or some other type of graphic organizer that explains the characteristics of physical or kinesthetic learners. Make sure your graphic organizer displays the likes and dislikes of physical or kinesthetic learners.

Example: Physical or kinesthetic learners love to take things apart and reassemble them, but they hate instruction manuals.

Essay Prompt 1:

In at least two to three paragraphs, write an essay that explains the logical or mathematical learning style.

Example: Logical or mathematical learners are detail-oriented and enjoy using strategy.

Essay Prompt 2:

Write an essay of at least one page that explains the traits of social or interpersonal learners and solitary or intrapersonal learners.

Example: Solitary or intrapersonal learners frequently keep journals to record their experiences and thoughts.

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