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May 20, 2024
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 min read

10 Types of Learning Styles: The Complete Guide to Professional Learning

Elevate the learning potential of your team by 10 unique learning styles. From visual learners to kinesthetic learners

10 Types of Learning Styles: The Complete Guide to Professional Learning

For businesses to grow in today's competitive environment, professional training and development are not an option but a necessity. Only in the U.S. have companies' training expenditures increased to $ 101.8 billion in 2023. Well-trained employees are better equipped to identify and solve problems creatively, leading to innovative solutions. 

But simply providing learning opportunities isn't enough. Effective training starts with understanding different types of learning and focusing on measurable outcomes. 

This article explores what are the different learning styles and how they impact performance and knowledge acquisition. We will also discuss strategies for engaging diverse learners, ensuring everyone benefits from an inclusive learning environment. 

Understanding Learning Styles 

Learning style refers to a learner's preferred method and set of techniques to understand, absorb, process and internalize the information. It is the personal approach through which a person learns and makes sense of new things. 

What are the Different Types of Learning Styles?

Every individual is unique and responds best to the techniques that resonate with their learning interests. Some people grasp spoken information best, while others use visual or imagery to solidify their concepts. Learning styles have always been a topic of research and discussion, but Neil Fleming made this idea more concrete with his VARK model. 

Neil Fleming was an educationist who proposed the famous VARK model in 1978. This model provides a framework for both students and instructors about their learning styles and preferences, such as: 

  • Visual Learners: People who prefer visual content such as diagrams, pictures or videos
  • Auditory Learners: Learns best from lectures, discussions and audiobooks  
  • Reading Learners: Develop concepts best through written text and note-taking
  • Kinesthetic Learners: Learn best through hands-on activities, experiments, role-playing, and demonstrations.

Think of VARK as a roadmap for understanding how people prefer receiving information through different learning techniques. However, learning styles extend beyond these four categories. As learning methodologies, human psychology, and technology evolve, we can see different ways of learning that cater to individual strengths and preferences. 

Importance of Identifying the Right Learning Style

According to a survey, 92% of employees think workplace training positively impacts their job engagement. Continuous learning and development are essential for employees to stay competitive and adaptable. However, simply providing training isn't enough. Instructors must tailor their methods to each learner's preferred style to ensure maximum impact.

Here's why identifying different types of learning styles is crucial: 

  • Enhanced Learning Efficiency: Matching training methods to learning styles allows employees to grasp and retain information faster. 
  • Increased Engagement and Motivation: The process becomes more engaging and enjoyable when training aligns with learning preferences. This keeps employees motivated to learn and apply new skills.
  • Improved Skill Development: Instructors can bridge knowledge gaps more effectively by catering to individual styles. This leads to a more skilled and competent workforce prepared to tackle new challenges. 

10 Different Types of Learning Styles In a Workplace

Everyone learns differently, and their interests and subconscious factors shape them. Modern learning goes beyond just four styles. People often blend different learning methods to create a personalized learning journey that maximizes their understanding and retention. 

Here are ten employee learning styles for customizing training and creating enjoyable, effective learning experiences. 

1. Visual Learning

Ever heard the saying, "A good sketch is better than a long speech"? Visual learners live by that motto! These are the people who think in pictures. According to statistics, 65% of the world's population is visual learners. Unlike relying on lengthy text-based explanations, visual learning is based on engaging graphics, illustrations, and multimedia elements. 

Visual learners prefer pictorial representations like charts, graphs and mind maps. These visuals help them organize information, identify patterns, and connect concepts. Their strong visual memory benefits from bite-sized chunks like infographics, allowing them to grasp and retain knowledge for longer. This focus on visuals often translates to a strong sense of spatial awareness, making them excel at interpreting maps and other spatial relationships. 

How to Engage Visual Learners

In a workplace, this could be watching video demonstrations to learn the functionalities of something instead of going through lengthy manuals. For example, watching step-by-step tutorials of a new software before using it. 

2. Auditory Learning

Auditory learners, also known as aural learners, thrive in environments rich in spoken information. They Learn by absorbing and processing knowledge presented through listening and verbal communication. Unlike relying solely on text or visuals, auditory learners gain a deeper understanding through lectures, discussions, and other vocal interactions. 

This type of learning can be facilitated through a podcast or a stimulating group discussion. Auditory learners can readily grasp concepts, identify key points, and retain information through the power of the spoken word.

How to Engage Auditory Learners

  • Lectures and Courses: Instead of reviewing lengthy documents, Create bite-sized video lectures or recorded courses tailored to their preferred learning style.
  • Podcasts and Audiobooks: Supplement written materials with audio versions, allowing them to learn while commuting or during downtime.
  • Role-Playing and Simulations: Create scenarios where employees can practice and learn through verbal interactions. 

3. Reading/Writing Learning 

In the age of multimedia learning, we mustn't forget the power of the written word. While there is so much focus on creating audio and videos in professional development courses, these types of learning can be overwhelming for senior employees or people who prefer the written word. Unlike visual or auditory people, they are different types of learners who prefer in-depth written materials. 

Reading/ writing learners process information through in-depth reading, taking detailed notes, and summarizing key points from written materials. They prefer learning at their own pace and enhancing their understanding by reading books, manuals, guides, and well-structured articles. 

How to Engage Reading/Writing Learners

  • Online Courses with Written Components: Look for courses with downloadable materials and discussion forums where they can share written insights and quizzes.
  • Handouts and Case Studies: Provide clear, well-structured handouts that summarize key points and offer opportunities for note-taking.
  • Structured Learning Activities: Create activities that encourage active engagement with the written content. This could involve summarizing key points, writing short essays on topics covered in the materials, or developing step-by-step guides based on their understanding. 

4. Kinesthetic Learning

One of those types of learning that involves a multi-sensory experience. Unlike absorbing information passively, kinesthetic learners learn best through hands-on activities. They excel at grasping concepts by physically engaging with the learning material. Imagine learning best by building prototypes, conducting experiments, or participating in simulations. 

This approach is ideal for professions like surgeons, athletes, and mechanics, where mastering a skill requires practical application. 

How to Engage Kinesthetic Learners

  • Interactive workshops: Design workshops with activities like role-playing scenarios, building prototypes, or conducting experiments.
  • Gamification: Incorporate game elements into training. This could involve teams competing through challenges that require applying learned skills.  
  • Case Studies with Practical Application: Develop case studies into solutions and action-based plans based on presented scenarios. 
  • Virtual Reality: Deploy VR or AR learning experiences for a multisensory and interactive course

5. Logical Learning

Logical or mathematical learning revolves around structured thinking and analytical skills. Unlike relying on intuition or visuals, logical learners excel at understanding concepts through reason and order. They learn through step-by-step procedures, logical reasoning, and problem-solving that involves patterns and connections. 

Imagine them dissecting information, identifying cause and effect, and building a clear, logical framework for understanding. These no-nonsense, analytical thinkers excel at working with numbers and quickly grasp the logic behind systems and processes. 

How to Engage Logical Learners

  • Problem-Solving Challenges: Present them with real-world problems or case studies that require logical reasoning and analysis. 
  • Data Analysis and Interpretation: Logical learners enjoy working with numbers and data. Provide them with datasets, charts, and graphs to analyze.   
  • Debates and Discussions: Facilitate debates or discussions on complex topics related to the training material. Encourage them to present arguments, critically analyze opposing viewpoints, and defend their logical reasoning. 

6. Social Learning

Social learning is all about interaction and collaboration. Social learners excel at acquiring knowledge through group dynamics and shared experiences. Discussions, brainstorming sessions, and peer-to-peer learning are their ideal learning environments. They learn through group activities, offering and receiving feedback, and building upon the knowledge of others. 

Social learners often become valuable assets within a team, readily sharing their insights and contributing to a collective understanding. 

How to Engage Social Learners

  • Group Discussions and Activities: Design training sessions with group discussions, brainstorming exercises, and collaborative problem-solving activities. 
  • Team Projects and Role-Playing: Create team projects that require collaboration and communication. This could involve developing a case study solution or role-playing real-world scenarios with peers.
  • Mentoring Programs: This could involve assigning mentors within the training group or creating knowledge-sharing sessions where experienced employees share their expertise.

7. Reflective Learning

Reflective learning prioritizes critical thinking and self-analysis. Unlike a passive approach, reflective learners internalize information by taking time to think critically and analyze their experiences. Reflection allows them to transform surface-level learning into deep understanding.

Reflective learners consider different perspectives and identify connections between their experiences and the learning material. This approach fosters self-awareness, allowing them to recognize knowledge gaps and areas for improvement. Reflective learning empowers them to become lifelong learners, continuously refining their knowledge and skills.

How to Engage Reflective Learners

  • Individual Reflection Exercises: Provide journaling prompts or reflection exercises encouraging them to analyze their learning experiences.
  • Self-Assessment Activities: This could involve pre- and post-training quizzes or self-evaluations allowing them to measure their knowledge gain. 
  • Learning Portfolio Development: Encourage reflective learners to develop a learning portfolio. This portfolio can house notes, personal reflections on key concepts, and even attempts at applying new skills. 

8. Digital Learning

Digital learning utilizes technology and online resources to deliver knowledge. This includes various tools and platforms – learning experience platforms (LXPs), learning management systems (LMS), and online courses – catering to learners of all ages and backgrounds.

It is a highly flexible and personalized mode of learning that can involve one-on-one sessions with instructors, pre-recorded lectures for self-paced learning, or collaborative activities with peers. 

How to Engage Digital Learners

  • Personalized Learning with AI: Utilize Artificial Intelligence (AI) to personalize learning journeys. AI can analyze learner data to recommend relevant courses, adjust the content difficulty, and suggest additional resources based on individual needs and interests. 
  • Interactive Learning Experiences: Digital learners crave activities that get them involved. Think of  immersive simulations, quizzes with instant feedback that guide their progress, and branching storylines that keep them guessing.
  • Collaborative Learning: Digital learning doesn't happen in isolation. Create a sense of community by incorporating collaborative activities. Think of online discussion forums, group projects with shared workspaces, and live chat features where learners can connect, share ideas, and solve problems. 

9. Independent Learning 

Independent learning is an educational approach where learners take ownership of their learning journey. Unlike relying on structured classrooms and instructors, independent learners thrive on self-directed exploration and setting their own pace. 

  • Autonomy: They prefer to chart their course, set learning goals, and choose the resources that best suit their needs.
  • Research Skills: Independent learners excel at finding and evaluating information from diverse sources like online resources, libraries, and even expert interviews.
  • Self-motivation: They possess a strong internal drive to learn and a willingness to tackle challenges without constant guidance.
  • Critical Thinking: Independent learners analyze information, draw connections, and form their understanding of the subject matter 

How to Engage Independent Learners

  • Provide Rich Learning Resources: Offer a diverse library of resources to ignite their curiosity. This could include online databases, curated reading lists with articles and research papers, and access to industry experts through Q&A sessions or guest lectures.
  • Open-Ended Projects: Present learners with open-ended projects that require them to leverage their research skills and independent thinking.
  • Personalized Learning Pathways:  Independent learners appreciate flexibility and a sense of ownership. Instead of enforcing a one-size-fits-all curriculum, work with them to establish personalized learning goals. Provide guidance on how to break down complex topics into manageable steps and suggest relevant resources based on their interests.  

10. Natural Learning 

Nature learners, similar to kinesthetic learners, prefer to learn within natural environments. It is one of those types of learning styles that prioritizes multi-sensory engagement and hands-on exploration. Imagine them flourishing in environments brimming with plants, animals, or bodies of water. This immersive approach allows them to connect with the learning material through sight, sound, touch, and even smell. 

Nature learners forge a deeper understanding and appreciation for the subject matter by directly interacting with it. 

How to engage with independent Learners

  • Outdoor Learning Experiences: Plan field trips, outdoor workshops, or citizen science projects that allow learners to engage with the natural world directly. 
  • Learning with a Natural Focus: Develop project-based learning opportunities that encourage research and exploration of natural phenomena. 
  • Mentorship Programs with Nature-Based Activities: Pair experienced professionals with nature learners for mentorship opportunities. Incorporate nature-based activities into their mentoring sessions, such as sharing best practices while hiking or brainstorming solutions to professional challenges during outdoor walks.  

Conclusion

This exploration of ten different types of learning styles highlights the unique ways individuals acquire knowledge. From the visual learners who thrive on graphics to the kinesthetic learners who excel through hands-on activities, understanding these styles empowers us to create inclusive learning environments.

Understanding the different ways people learn allows for more informed decisions about professional development. You can tailor training to cater to auditory learners who need discussions or social learners who want a more collaborative approach. 

While customizing every aspect of learning to individual needs can be challenging, platforms like Coursebox can streamline this process. Its AI-powered features empower you to transform data into online courses, create multimedia assignments, and design interactive activities – all within minutes. This adaptability ensures your training caters to various learning styles, fostering a more inclusive and effective learning experience. Coursebox can be used as an AI course creation platform and can be upgraded to a branded AI-powered LMS.

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