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What Is Your Learning Style? Visual, Auditory, Tactile or Multimodal

By Len Simpson

There are basically three types of learning styles: visual (see/read), auditory (hear/comprehend) and tactile (touch/do).* Any one or any combination of these styles will find their way into a student’s learning techniques. Some learn better by more than just one learning style. When multiple learning styles are present, it is called multimodal.

For example, hands-on training will focus heavily on tactile learning styles, but will also include some visual and auditory elements as well. Classroom lectures tend to focus heavily on the auditory learning style with a healthy dose of visual learning mixed in and with very little tactile learning.

How can you determine which learning style best suits you? Here are some basic characteristics of each to help you determine your style of learning, as well as some recommendations for each to help you improve your learning abilities.

Visual Learning Style

If you are a visual learner, you will most likely enjoy reading or seeing pictures. What you see is what you will remember best. Some characteristics of a visual learner are tidiness and being well groomed. You tend to visualize the word or information you just heard. For example, if you read or hear the word “dog” as a visual learner, you will often immediately visualize a dog in your mind.

Tips for a Visual Learner

  • You will benefit from sitting near the front of the classroom.
  • Remember flashcards from your youth? Flashcards are one of the best ways for learners of any age and learning style, but particularly for the visual learner.
  • If you hear it or read it, visualize it.
  • Jot down key words, ideas or instructions. Seeing it in writing can help you retain it.
  • Picture it! Draw pictures to help explain new or complex concepts.
  • Color code things.
  • Minimize distractions. Visual learners are easily distracted by sounds.
  • Get your eyesight checked annually.

Auditory Learning Style

Auditory learners learn best by hearing and listening. Auditory learners often perform well in a lecture environment. If you are an auditory learner, it’s all about storing new information by the way it sounds. You will often understand spoken instructions better than written ones and are likely to verbally repeat what you’ve read to help retain the information.

Tips for an Auditory Learner

  • In almost everything you read — stories, assignments or directions — read them out loud.
  • It may be obvious, but you’ll learn best if you can hear your instructor. Sit where you can hear best.
  • Listen to recordings of important information, such as your instructor speaking about key information.
  • When studying for any tests, have someone read the questions to you.
  • When read out loud, flashcards work well for the auditory learner and you could benefit immensely.
  • Have your hearing checked on a regular basis.

Tactile Learning Style

For the tactile learner, the more you use your hands, the better you will learn. If you are a tactile learner, whatever the project, you’ll want to touch it, move it, draw it and deconstruct it to see how it works; and eventually, build one of your own to see how it all comes together.

Tips for a Tactile Learner

  • You can reinforce your learning by using a computer or similar Internet-ready device.
  • Let’s get physical… by participating in activities that involve touching, building, moving or drawing.
  • As with other styles of learning, you too can use flashcards to aid your learning. Simply put them in groups to discover emerging relationships between ideas.
  • Try fingerspelling to reinforce learning new vocabulary words.
  • By taking frequent breaks while reading or studying, you may be able to improve your overall focus and retention.

Multimodal Learning Style

The reality is that most of us likely use more than just one learning style. Multimodal learners tend to learn in two ways: contextually or holistically.**

The context-specific approach learner will learn similarly as any single preference, except depending on the content to be studied, may choose different learning styles to fit their needs. For example, if learning music, auditory learning styles would be preferable; if learning art, visual; if learning to build something, tactile.

The whole-sense approach learner uses all their senses in their decision-making and learning processes. For example, listening to a lecture, reading a textbook, drawing or viewing a diagram, and writing down notes could all contribute to your understanding of a single topic.

One clue that you might prefer multimodality is that you tend to learn sequentially. That means that you gather information using a specific order of learning styles, usually starting one dominant style. For example, you may first read some information on a topic, then view videos or visual presentations, and later will try a hands-on approach. The order will be different for each person, but can be helpful to you to discover your sequence if you learn through multimodality.

So, which type of learner are you? Once you figure that out, consider choosing a school or training program, like Everest’s hands-on training, which best fits your learning style. Learning through a mode that best helps set you up for success.

*Source: http://www.educationplanner.org/students/self-assessments/learning-styles-styles.shtml
** Source: http://www.vark-learn.com/english/page.asp?p=multimodal

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