What is Your Learning Style?

Christine Johnson, President of Cued Forward and Lifelong Learner on

Are there certain learning opportunities that make you more excited than others?  Does the term webinar cause you to shut down your computer because you cannot be involved in another one-sided topic discussion?  Or does the term podcast immediately conjure up the need to view a PowerPoint presentation?  All of us have our preferences in the way we want to learn.  Some of us like handouts while others say it is simply wasting trees.  Some like the convenience of listening to a recorded podcast or webinar while others do not have the patience to sit through these let alone gain useful knowledge.  The basis for our differences come from what type of learning style(s) we prefer.

While in school growing up, we may have only had one learning style that was more or less directed by the teacher.  As adults, we have the ability to decide which learning style or styles work best for us and choose our learning experiences accordingly.  So, what is your learning style?   There are three basic adult learning styles.

  • Visual: If you are a visual learner, you prefer to learn by seeing pictures, videos and diagrams. You tend to like to sit at the front for an in-person training so you can see what the instructor is doing not only saying.  You also like handouts, especially with images, and when the instructor uses a white board or flip chart.  You learn best when being able to actually visualize the subject matter.  You have the need to know what the subject looks like.  You like the instructor to ask clarifying questions to make sure you have understood the point.
  • Auditory: “Tell me” is the motto for an auditory learner.  As an auditory learner, you prefer spoken communication, podcasts, or videos.  The sound of the instructor’s voice is as important as what the instructor is saying.  You pay attention to pitch, tone, and volume.  You actively want to participate in discussions to help learn the material as well as be asked questions about your thoughts and opinions.
  • Kinesthetic or Tactile: A tactile learner is “hands on” all the way.  You want to be part of the learning action.  You need to physically do something to understand it.  You are willing to volunteer or demonstrate if the instructor asks.  You prefer interactive worksheets to simply taking notes and prefer interaction even in online training.

Do you see yourself in these learning styles?  For me, depending on the subject matter, I tend to lean toward one style more than another.  For something complicated, I need to be able to visualize it and understand how all of the pieces fit together. If I am learning a new technique, I want to be able to practice and demonstrate my newly learned skills.

Knowing your own learning style is important as you choose learning opportunities.  It will help you make the most of your time and dollar budget. However, even if an opportunity is not your primary style, but the topic is interesting, do not rule it out.  There are times where you will have to learn something new using a method different than your preferred method.  And that’s not bad.  You are learning something new in a new way.

Contact Cued Forward for more information and resources on determining your learning style. For businesses, contact us about how understanding your employees’ learning needs can drive your training programs and enhance your talent management process. Sign up for our free newsletter here.

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