Learning style

Learning style can be defined as an individual’s habitual and preferred method of acquiring skills, knowledge, understanding concepts, and attitudes. It reflects how best the individual absorbs, organizes, and retains information.

Understanding one’s learning style can be helpful for both learners and teachers.

By identifying their preferred learning style, individuals can tailor their study strategies and engage in activities that align with their strengths.

Teachers can also adapt their teaching methods to accommodate different learning styles, thereby improving the overall learning experience.

Some learning styles features are developed through experience and others can also be biological.

It is important to note that, no learning style is better than or worse than the other.

Most learners can grasp the same content but how they get it is determined by their styles of learning.

Moreover, environmental, emotional, sociological, physiological, and psychological factors could influence the learning outcomes of any learning style employed by a learner.

Factors that affect or determine learning styles among learners.

  1. Learning styles can be influenced by social and environmental factors.

Some individuals may thrive in collaborative group settings, while others may prefer solitary study.

Certain learners may be more comfortable in quiet and organized environments, while others may need some level of noise or movement to stay engaged.

  1. Learning styles can also touch on emotional and motivational factors.

Some learners may be more motivated by competition and challenges, while others may be driven by personal interest or a desire to help others.

Understanding these aspects can impact how individuals engage with the learning process.

  1. Learning styles often take into account sensory modalities, such as visual, auditory, and tactile.

Some individuals may learn better by seeing visual representations of information, others by hearing explanations or engaging in discussions, and still others by physically interacting with materials.

  1. Learning styles may also consider how individuals process and organize information.

Other learners prefer to take a step-by-step approach, while others prefer to see the big picture first.

Some may benefit from concrete examples and practical applications, while others excel at abstract and theoretical concepts.

Models of learning styles

1. VARK model, proposed by Neil Fleming.

According to VARK, there are four primary learning styles which are;

Visual learners prefer to process information through visual aids such as diagrams, charts, and images. They learn best when they can see information presented in a visual format.

Auditory learners learn best through hearing and listening. They benefit from verbal explanations, lectures, discussions, and podcasts. They may also prefer to talk about concepts and ideas.

Read/write learners prefer text-based learning. They excel in reading, writing, and taking notes. They prefer written materials, textbooks, and written instructions.

Kinesthetic learners are also known as tactile learners or hands-on learners. They learn best through physical experiences, movement, and hands-on activities. They often prefer to engage in practical tasks, experiments, and role-playing.

2. Kolb’s Experiential Learning Theory:

This model was developed by David Kolb, this model suggests that learning is a cyclic process involving four stages:

  • Concrete Experience,
  • Reflective Observation,
  • Abstract Conceptualization,
  • Active Experimentation.

Kolb categorizes learners into four styles:

  • Converging (emphasizing abstract conceptualization and active experimentation),
  • Diverging (emphasizing concrete experience and reflective observation),
  • Assimilating (emphasizing abstract conceptualization and reflective observation),
  • Accommodating (emphasizing concrete experience and active experimentation).

3. Honey and Mumford’s Learning Styles:

Based on Kolb’s model, Peter Honey and Alan Mumford proposed four learning styles:

  • Activist,
  • Reflector,
  • Theorist,
  • Pragmatists

Activists approach learning through hands-on experiences.

Reflectors also prefer to observe and think before acting.

Theorists would want to understand underlying principles and concepts.

Pragmatists prefer to apply practical solutions to real-world problems.

Felder and Silverman’s Index of Learning Styles (ILS):

This model proposes a set of dimensions that describe different learning preferences.

The dimensions include:

Active-reflective learners.

Active learners tend to retain and understand information best by doing something active with it thus, discussing, applying it, or explaining it to others.

Reflective learners prefer to think about it quietly first.

“Let’s try it out and see how it works” is an active learner’s phrase;

“Let’s think it through first” is the reflective learner’s response.

Sensing-intuitive learners.

Sensing learners like learning facts, as opposed to intuitive learners who often prefer discovering possibilities and relationships.

Sensors often learn to solve problems by using well-established methods and dislike complications and surprises whereas intuitors, like innovation and dislike repetition.

Sensors are more likely than intuitors to resent being tested on material that has not been explicitly covered in class.

visual-verbal learners.

Visual learners remember best what they see (pictures, diagrams, flow charts, timelines, films, and demonstrations.

Verbal learners get more out of words (written and spoken explanations.

Everyone learns more when information is presented both visually and verbally.

Good learners are capable of processing the information presented either visually or verbally

Sequential-global learners.

Sequential learners tend to follow logical stepwise paths in finding solutions; global learners may be able to solve complex problems quickly or put things together in novel ways once they have grasped the big picture, but they may have difficulty explaining how they did it.

Sequential learners may not fully understand the material but they can nevertheless do something with it (like solve the homework problems or pass the test) since the pieces they have absorbed are logically connected.

How to determine the learning style best for you.

1. Reflect on your past learning experiences and identify the methods that have been most effective for you.

Consider the activities, environments, and resources that have helped you grasp and retain information.

This self-awareness can provide valuable insights into your learning preferences.

2. You can also, actively engage in different learning activities and techniques to measure your response and preference.

You can try reading a textbook chapter and summarizing it in writing, watching instructional videos or using visual aids (visual), discussing concepts with peers or participating in group projects (auditory), or engaging in hands-on activities or experiments (Kinesthetic).

Observe which approaches resonate with you the most and seem to enhance your understanding and retention of information.

3. Consult with your teachers, mentors, or classmates to gather feedback on your learning strengths and preferences.

They may have observed your learning style in action and can provide insights and suggestions based on their observations and experiences.


But it is important to know that, learning styles are not fixed or absolute, and individuals often exhibit a combination of preferences.

It’s beneficial to be flexible and open to different learning methods, as this can enhance your overall learning experience and adaptability.

The goal is to leverage your preferred learning style while also developing skills in other styles to become a well-rounded learner.

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