Tag Archives: teaching

Recognising individual learning styles

It is reasonably well recognised (e.g. we won’t question it here!) that each of us has a preferred or dominant sensory system. This means a person will prefer to communicate or learn in either:

  • a visual way (e.g. seeing)
  • an auditory way (e.g. hearing)
  • a kinesthetic way (e.g. touching)

This article provides clues to help determine your own preferred learning style, and that of individuals you interact with.

Note: Having a preferred learning style does not mean the other methods are not used at all. It simply means learning will be more effective if expressed in the preferred manner.

activity learning style
visual auditory kinesthetic
speak say:

  • That looks right
  • I see now
  • I’m in the dark
  • I can picture that
  • Get it into perspective

  • That sounds right
  • That rings a bell
  • That tells me
  • Listen to me
  • Suddenly it clicked

  • That feels right
  • A smooth answer
  • A concrete example
  • Let’s handle this
  • I have a grip on it
spell try to see the word spell how it sounds write it down to see if it feels right
visualise see vivid detailed pictures think in sounds have few images but they involve movement
concentrate are distracted by untidiness or movement are distracted by sound or noises are distracted by movement
anger become silent and seething express it in an outburst storm off, clench your fists or grit your teeth
forget something forget names but not faces forget faces but not names remember best what you did
contact people on business prefer direct, face-to-face meetings prefer the phone talk it out while walking or during some other activity
relax prefer to watch TV, read or see a play prefer to listen to music prefer to play sports/games
enjoy the arts like paintings like music like dancing
reward someone write remarks of praise on their work or in a note give them oral praise give them a pat on the back
try to interpret someone’s mood look (primarily) at their facial expression listen (primarily) to their voice watch (primarily) their body movements
read like descriptive scenes/stop to imagine the scene enjoy dialogue and conversation/”hear” the characters talk prefer action stories, or you are not a keen reader
are inactive look around, doodle, watch something talk to yourself or other people fidget
talk talk sparingly but dislike listening for too long enjoy listening but are impatient to talk gesture a lot and use expressive movements
learn like to see demonstrations, diagrams, slides, posters like verbal instructions, talks or lectures like direct involvement: learning through activities, role playing, etc

Information retrieval statistics

Came across the following table while reading John Whitmore’s book Coaching for Performance looking for ideas in developing a coach development framework for a current client. It’s an oldie but a goodie, published here since we’re often needing to remind clients of it when determining instructional approaches.

Told Told & Shown Told, Shown &
Recall after 3 weeks 70% 72% 85%
Recall after 3 months 10% 32% 65%

Source is given as IBM, with subsequent confirmation from a (UK) post office study.

Might be useful when needing to justify that training environment!