The 4 Types Of Learners & How They Should Study

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How do you study? What do you do to memorize as quickly as possible?

Everyone learns differently.

Neil Fleming is a prominent educator from New Zealand who proposed that there are four types of learners: Visual, Aural (Auditory), Reading/Writing and Kinesthetic. These learner types are collectively called the VARK learning styles.

Neil Fleming noticed that some students were performing poorly under great teachers, but performed great under poor teachers, so he decided to investigate why.

He developed the VARK system in 1987 to help students learn about their individual learning preferences.
The different types of learners aren’t just picky about what kind of information goes in their heads; the wiring of their brain is different.

A study showed that when visual learners read words, they activated the visual cortex in the brain, i.e., they converted the words into images or a visual mental representation in their heads.

It was the same for reading/writing learners too. Reading/Writing learners converted pictures into linguistic representations. They turned images into words.

Each type of learner uses a different region of their brain when learning.

You might use a mix of learning techniques; maybe you write down the information and say it out loud. But one technique will always be more dominate than the other.

Why You Should Know What Type of Learner You Are

Everyone needs to know the types of learners because we are always learning. It saves time and prevents frustration when learning something new.

Knowing what type of learner you are will help you memorize faster and more efficiently.

When teachers provide information in only one manner, the students who learn differently perform poorly. The discomfort they feel may be large enough to interfere with learning.[1]

In the same way, if you teach yourself in a way that isn’t right for you, your learning will suffer. You will be less productive in your learning. And you might even give up.

All that could be avoided if you know what learner type you are, and you learn in ways that suit you.

So what learner are you?

4 Types of Learners

Here are the four types of learners in the VARK model.

1. Visual Learners

Charts

Visual learners use their eyes to learn. They remember what they see. When trying to recall something, they will close their eyes and visualize it in their head.

Visual learners need color, shape, and other visual elements to understand. They learn using pictures, diagrams, pie charts, timelines and demonstrations.

They visualize the information and the relationships between ideas and points.

These learners benefit more from reading a textbook, and drawing pictures and other written materials rather than from listening to a lecture.

Visual Learner Tips & Strategies

  • The most important tool for visual learners is color. When you are reading from a textbook, use different color highlighters and underline with colored pencils.

  • Color your notes. Write with colored pens and go wild with your color pencils.

  • Draw and Illustrate ideas. Don’t fill your notes with words only. Add pictures and diagrams to your notes. Convert written information into drawings.

  • Make mind maps. Not only do mind maps help you organize information, they also help visual learners add color and pictures to dull information.

  • Make flashcards with visual information. Don’t make a flashcard with text on the front and text on the back. Use an image whenever possible.

  • Visualize the information. Imagine what you are learning. If you are studying about World War II, imagine the scene in your head, imagine yourself looking at a calendar to remember the date.

  • If you are a medical student, consider getting an anatomy and physiology coloring book, such as The Anatomy Coloring Book.

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Are You A Visual Learner?

  • Are you a fast talker?
  • Do you say things like “It looks like…” and “Let’s see how…”?
  • Are you imaginative?
  • Do you think in pictures?
  • Would you rather read a story than listen to it?
  • Do you use words that express visual images?
  • Do you remember faces more than names?

2. Auditory Learners

Headphones

Auditory learners learn with their ears. They remember what they hear and memorize by saying things out loud.

Auditory learners have difficulty remembering things they’ve read, but easily recall what they’ve heard.

They use rhymes and melodies to learn. They love poems and class discussions.

The first thing they notice when walking in a crowded room is the noise.

Auditory Learner Tips & Strategies

  • Record your notes and then listen to them.
  • Ask questions in class.
  • Join a study group and discuss information with other students
  • Read aloud if possible; if you’re in a library, whisper.
  • Make a song or poem out of the information you are trying to learn.
  • Attend lectures and webinars.
  • Watch videos utilizing the audio to learn.
  • Listen to audiobooks whenever available.
  • Read your flashcards aloud.

Are You An Auditory Learner?

  • Are you a natural listener?
  • Do you speak slowly?
  • Do you prefer to have things explained to you rather than to read written information?
  • Do you think in sounds?
  • Do you think linearly?
  • Do you repeat things aloud?
  • Do you say things like “That rings a bell.” and “That sounds right.”?

3. Kinesthetic Learners

Boy playing in the sand

Kinesthetic learners learn by doing and solving problems. They need to experiment, move around, and act things out while learning.

Kinesthetic learners use their senses to learn. They’d rather draw, touch, and build than sit in a classroom.

Kinesthetic Learner Tips & Strategies

  • Move around when studying. Walk around or dance while you are learning something.
  • Chew gum, tap a pencil, or rock a chair when studying.
  • Draw out explanations to the information in the air with your finger.
  • Participate in activities that involve touching, drawing, or building.
  • Use memory games and flashcards.
  • Create your own outline for the lessons you are studying.
  • Turn the learning material into a game using gamification techniques.
  • Study in blocks and take frequent breaks.
  • Toss a ball from hand to hand while thinking.
  • Go on field trips, participate in drama presentations, or join a science lab.
  • Underline important information in textbooks.
  • Listen to recorded audio.

Are You A Kinesthetic Learner?

  • Are you a slow talker?
  • Do you prefer hands-on experiences?
  • Do you have a short attention span?
  • Is it hard for you to sit still?
  • Do you learn better through trial and error?
  • Do you say things like “It feels like…” and “I can’t grasp this.”?
  • Do you play around with objects while you are thinking?

4. Reading & Writing Learners

A book & glasses

These learners are also called logical learners. These learners love lists. They prefer to read and write to understand and learn.

This type of learner is a type of visual learner, but one who prefers text to pictures and diagrams.

They learn by reading and rephrasing.

Reading & Writing Learner Tips & Strategies

  • Take LOTS of notes. And then rewrite those notes in different words.
  • Rephrase the information in your own words.
  • Take visual information and turn it into verbal statements.
  • Write summaries of the information.
  • Make lists and outlines for the information.
  • Turn your listens into multiple choice questions.
  • Use glossaries.
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Are You A Reading & Writing Learner?

  • Do you love reading?
  • Do you prefer written directions to maps?
  • Would you rather read to yourself or to others than be read to?
  • Do you prefer text to pictures?
  • Do you enjoy writing?

Learning is not attained by chance. It must be sought for with ardor and attended to with diligence.Abigail Adams
What Type Of Learner Are You?
What strategies do you use to learn and study? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

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Layla Ashraf is a writer who loves learning, reading, and traveling. She speaks five languages and is a college student.
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Here's what you'll learn in this article:

  • There are four types of learners:
    • Visual learners prefer to learn with pictures, diagrams, and pie charts.
    • Aural (Auditory) learners learn with sounds, songs, and rhymes.
    • Reading and writing learners learn with text and written words. They prefer text to images.
    • Kinesthetic learners learn by experiencing and doing.
  • Each Learner has their own way of better retaining information.
  • The four types of learners were suggested by Neil Fleming.

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