8 Types of Learners: Definitions, Examples, and Learning Strategies
What are the 8 learning types? Which types of learning work best for you, what can you do to make learning easier, and how can you use your learning style to boost your well-being?
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Learning is an ongoing process and a crucial experience for all people of all ages. But people process and retain information in several ways. Whether you’re a teacher, student, or a parent, understanding the differences between different types of learners can help you know how you or someone else can develop new skills faster and better.
What Does It Mean to Have Different Learning Types?
You might not realize that you have a specific learning style. Instead, you might notice that you can understand the instructions given by one person but feel confused when you’re dealing with another person. You might struggle with reading written instructions but after watching a video on YouTube, you can finish the job in a few minutes. Or, as a parent, you might see that your kid is struggling at school even though they have no problem understanding and following instructions given at home.
That's because people have different learning styles. The more you know about these learning styles, the more you will understand what works for you and others.
Why Learning Types Matter
We never stop learning, but we might struggle while doing so if we're not learning in the right ways. You may already know that the way you learn affects how well you do in school or academics. The way classes are taught in school may only use one or two learning styles and if you don't have one of those learning styles, it can be a struggle.
Learning styles also matter in the workplace. If you have a job that doesn't support your learning style, you may have a hard time excelling, advancing or getting the recognition you deserve. These difficulties in school and work can translate into poor well-being—you're just not in a situation that helps you feel smart and competent. All the more reason to find our your learning style and pursue work that fits you.
In addition to potential challenges at work and school, your learning style may also affect how successful you are growing your happiness and well-being. That's because the skills that help us improve our emotions must be learned. If we're a social learner, we may not benefit so much from mindful mediation. And if we're a physical learner, we may not benefit from reading well-being tips.
These are just some of the reasons learning types matter for all aspects of our lives.
8 Different Types of Learning
Although there are many theories regarding learning, intelligence, and learning styles, Gardner’s Theory of Multiple Intelligences suggests there are 8 different types of learners. We'll focus on these 8 types of learners in this article. One person may have just one learning style or they may have several.
For each learner type, we'll talk about common traits, challenges, and possible careers. We'll also suggest strategies that might make it easier to boost well-being for each learner type.
1. Aural or Auditory Learner
If you respond well to oral instructions, lectures, or music, you’re an aural learner. Auditory learners focus on spoken words and can find the meaning and pattern to help them understand more about the topic they study. If they watch a movie, they will be focusing on the script and words spoken to understand the story.
Being an auditory learner is characterized by a few things.
● You benefit most from lectures and group discussions.
● You can associate different sounds with learning environments.
● You like listening and speaking activities.
● You enjoy listening to music while studying.
● You enjoy asking meaningful questions and aren’t afraid to answer them.
● You can remember how words sounded or how someone said them.
● You can study and understand better by reading out loud.
● For you, different types of music can trigger emotions and memories.
● You’re very skilled at oral presentations.
Challenges of being an auditory learner
Nevertheless, an aural or auditory learner may deal with the following challenges.
● Written tests rarely show your true potential.
● When you write down something, you may reverse or forget letters.
● Your written notes can be too confusing.
● Noise can affect you negatively.
● You may not like drawings, sketches, graphs, and charts.
● You can be too talkative.
Opportunities for auditory learners
If you’re an auditory learner, you might want to consider a career in the music business because you’re most likely skilled with rhythm and beats. You can also consider a career in sales, as a psychiatrist, teacher, translator, sound engineer, tutor, transcriber, or recruiter.
How auditory learners can increase well-being:
You may benefit from calming music (like in the video below) to decrease stress. Or, apps like Headspace that involve listening to guidance could help you learn these new skills easier.
Calming video for auditory learners
2. Visual or Spatial Learner
Visual learners have the ability to understand and manipulate large scale pictures, patterns of wide space, graphs, and charts. You are a visual learner if you’re "picture-smart" and relate more to a video about the book you’re studying than reading an extract of the same book.
Visual learners have some of the following traits.
● You have a good sense of direction and can read maps.
● You like doodling and coloring.
● You have a great memory when you see things.
● You enjoy watching clips related to the books you’re studying.
● You might notice the tiniest details you see.
● You might create a flowchart for your study plan.
● You understand the balance of colors and how they complement each other.
● You can visualize objects.
● You like playing videos and looking at pictures.
● Learning is more flexible because you can pause and rewind when you study using images and videos.
Challenges of being a visual learner
However, there are several challenges that visual learners deal with.
● You tend to lose focus when they’re listening to lectures or reading books.
● You tend to be less organized.
● You might not be very talkative.
● Some equipment, tools, and props are required for visual learning.
● You get confused when you’re involved in group discussions.
Opportunities for visual learners
As a visual learner, you’re likely to succeed as a pilot, surgeon, sculptor, architect, interior designer, cartoonist, or graphics artist.
How visual learners can increase well-being:
You may benefit from watching a video or doing something artistic. You may want to try this happiness drawing activity. Or, you could feel better by watching an uplifting video like the one below.
3. Verbal or Linguistic Learner
A linguistic learner is good with words; heard and spoken. If you write amazing essays, know how to review books, and don’t mind speaking in public, you’re probably a verbal or linguistic learner. Verbal learners rarely struggle at school as they don’t mind reading instructions as well as listening to them.
Being a verbal learner is characterized by a few things.
● You learn new words easily.
● You can speak more than one language fluently.
● You love reading and writing activities.
● You have excellent verbal expressions.
● You ask questions frequently.
● You like to write about your own story or engage in reflection of the topic studied.
● You prefer word problems over math equations.
● You easily remember quotes and proverbs.
● You can summarize the topic you’re studying to make it easier to understand.
Challenges of being a verbal learner
Nevertheless, there are a few challenges that verbal or linguistic learners usually deal with.
● You might have difficulty visualizing things.
● You might struggle with maps, charts, and diagrams.
● You get bored when someone is monotonous while explaining information.
● You might be too talkative.
Opportunities for verbal learners
If you’re a verbal or linguistic learner, you may have a successful career as a teacher, lawyer, TV host, politician, author, or journalist.
How verbal learners can increase well-being:
You may benefit from joining a happiness program or reading articles about topics related to well-being. You could learn quite effectively from reading this information.
4. Logical or Mathematical Learner
A logical or mathematical learner is good with numbers. You like to understand the reason and logic behind the information studied and have the ability to analyze problems logically to reach the best possible outcome.
It’s quite common for logical learners to come up with their own theories or patterns based on their observations because they are natural thinkers with strong problem-solving skills.
Logical learners have some of the following characteristics.
● You enjoy subjects related to technology, physics, chemistry, and math.
● You organize and classify information.
● You usually write lists and itineraries, and always have a plan for the future.
● You prefer statistical studies over keeping a journal or analyzing literature.
● You prefer structure and goal-oriented activities.
● You enjoy creating graphs and charts.
● You can easily find and understand mathematical patterns between different objects.
Challenges of being a logical learner
Logical learning or intelligence comes with a few challenges that you’re likely to deal with.
● You don’t like writing activities.
● You might not be very good at group discussions, especially if people can’t see the logic behind your reason.
● You struggle when you’re asked to answer intuitively. You love the rules and feel confused when they don’t exist.
● You’re not that talkative.
Opportunities for logical learners
If you’re a logical learner, it’s a good idea to consider a career as an account, finance specialist, broker, computer programmer, detective, banker, scientist, or statistician.
How logical learners can increase well-being:
Logical learners may benefit from making a happiness plan—a map for exactly how they'll reach their happiness goals.
Why learning styles are important
5. Physical or Kinesthetic Learner
For a physical or kinesthetic learner, learning is about using your whole body or a part of it to understand and process information. Hands-on activities, models, and imitation games can all be used if you’re dealing with a physical learner.
Physical learners have the following traits.
● You have a high energy level.
● You like to touch things to feel their texture.
● You enjoy spending time outdoor and touching different stuff.
● You love role-play and acting out situations.
● You can mimic other people’s actions.
● You have good motor memory and can duplicate something you have seen once.
● You enjoy sports.
Challenges of being a physical learner
As a physical learner, you may face a few struggles.
● You don’t concentrate much when learning depends on listening, reading, or writing.
● You get bored quickly.
● You can’t spend a long time sitting to study.
● People around you might get too distracted because you move too much.
Opportunities for physical learners
If you’re a physical learner, you can become a successful dancer, actor, athlete, mechanic, surgeon, physical therapist, mechanic, or carpenter.
How physical learners can increase well-being:
Logical learners may benefit from exercise, yoga, or doing the raisin mindfulness activity.
6. Social or Interpersonal Learner
Social learners people persons. They’re the best group participants, team workers, and facilitators. The more the involvement with other people, the better they will perform. Engaging in discussions and dialogues, and getting feedback from colleagues and tutors will help a social learner learn about a new topic.
If you’re a social learner, you will be characterized by some of these things.
● You like to hang out with your colleagues.
● Study groups and collaborative activities make you feel more relaxed and productive.
● You’re vocal and don’t feel afraid to ask questions.
● You’re good at interpreting facial gestures and body language.
● You often come up with good ideas.
● You’re a good listener and can resolve issues.
● People love listening to you.
● You enjoy role-play activities.
● You don’t have trouble making new friends.
● You’re a natural-born leader and can easily help the group perform better.
Challenges of being a social learner
Social learners face some difficulties when they’re learning.
● You might struggle when you have to work alone.
● Without continuous feedback, you’re likely to lose your motivation.
● You might get behind schedule when you’re working on your own.
Opportunities for social learners
7. Intrapersonal or Solitary Learner
An intrapersonal or solitary learner is self-smart. Solitary intelligence focuses on your personal attributes, strengths and weaknesses because you work best when you work alone. You’re the genius who can spend hours studying on their own and might come up with something that no one else has noticed.
As a solitary learner, you will have some of the following traits.
● You’re self-motivated and feel more confident when you’re working by yourself.
● You’re highly independent and will search for the most suitable academic resources.
● You prefer having a quiet environment in your personal and academic lives.
● You have excellent self and time-management skills.
● You take responsibility for your actions.
● You self-analyze.
● You like to write journals, notes, and personal thoughts to improve your skills.
● You can understand your mood and intentions.
● You like self-help books and personality quizzes.
● You have a detailed to-do list and love to set up your goals and make plans.
Challenges of being a intrapersonal learner
As a solitary learner, you’re likely to encounter a few challenges.
● Group discussions can be too intimidating for you.
● You don’t like working on a team.
● When you’re part of the group, you would prefer to do most of the work on your own.
● You struggle with making new friends and maintaining old friendships.
Opportunities for intrapersonal learners
If you’re a solitary learner, you can be quite successful if you choose to work as a teacher, counselor, entrepreneur, researcher, or psychologist.
How intrapersonal learners can increase well-being:
Intrapersonal learners may benefit from alone-time spent on self-reflection, journalling, or reading self-help or psychology books.
8. Naturalistic Learner
Naturalistic learners are affected by their surrounding environment. For these learners, the time spent outdoors is a learning experience because they’re very good at relating to various objects and elements from nature.
As a naturalistic learner, you will have some of the following traits.
● You love field trips and learn best when you’re studying outdoors.
● You collect samples to better understand the academic material you’re studying.
● You can easily categorize and classify information.
● You prefer studying topics related to nature and the environment.
● You’re concerned about recycling and environmentally-friendly practices.
● You are actively advising other people to decrease their carbon footprint.
● You prefer biology, zoology, and botany over languages and math.
● You don’t mind getting your hands dirty and prefer hands-on activities.
● You can notice the slightest changes in your surrounding environment.
Challenges of being a naturalistic learner
A naturalistic learner might deal with a few challenges when they’re studying.
● You feel too stressed when you don’t have time to go outside.
● You might not be too good with numbers.
● Too much logical thinking can be too boring for you.
Opportunities for naturalistic learners
If you’re a naturalistic learner, you can have a successful career if you choose to become a vet, activist, wildlife biologist, ecologist, or natural resources manager.
How naturalistic learners can increase well-being:
Naturalistic learners may benefit from being outside or gardening for well-being.
We need to understand our learning styles and strengths to learn best, increase our likelihood for success, and grow our well-being.
About Dr. Tchiki Davis
Dr. Davis is founder of The Berkeley Well-Being Institute. After getting her PhD in psychology at Berkeley, she started creating online content & programs to boost well-being—some of these have reached more than a million people. As author of Outsmart Your Smartphone, and contributor to Psychology Today, The Greater Good Science Center, and Shine Text, Dr. Davis aims to share her insights on happiness & health with people all across the world. Learn more about Dr. Davis.