Learning Style Preferences

'No one else processes information in exactly the same way you do. If you discover how you process information best, you learn things both more efficiently and in less time. By applying strategies that address your learning style, you can study faster and better.' "Practicing College Learning Strategies" , p. 154, Carolyn H. Hooper

Would you rather play 'Pictionary,' (visual), 'Taboo,' (auditory) or 'Gestures,' (kinesthetic/tactile)?

If a fire breaks out in the room, what is your immediate first reaction? 1. You quickly size up the situation, looking for exits, others in need, etc. (visual). 2. You start yelling "Fire!" giving directions or screaming (auditory). 3. You start running for an exit (kinesthetic). You may do all three, but one will be an instinctual first reaction. That is your learning style.

There are many tests to determine your learning style.

Visit https://www.webtools.ncsu.edu/learningstyles/. This website, developed by Barbara Solomon and Richard Felder of North Carolina State, is a questionnaire of 44 questions that will help you determine what type of learning style you may lean towards. Please fill out the questionnaire and then read what it says about your learning style, and whether you may be an active or reflective learner, a sequential or global learner.

Take the VARK Questionnaire to determine your learning Style. This websire is a series of questions to help you determine if your learning style is visual, aural, reading, or kinesthetic.

Take the Questionnaire

Visual Learner

Visual learners require seeing. You form pictures and see words spelled, problems worked, or situations happening in your mind. You would rather play Pictionary, rather than Gestures or Taboo. When you understand something you will say 'I see,' and you do 'see it' in your mind. You want to see the words written down, a picture of something being described, a time line to remember events in history, or the assignment written on the board.

Helpful Hints for Improving Visual Input:

  • Sit in the front of the class or meeting so you can see everything.
  • Develop skill at note taking to change verbal input into visual input.
  • Sketch course content. Even the simplest sketch can help you remember ideas.
  • List your tasks - even the ones you have completed - just to have the satisfaction of visually crossing out tasks done.
  • Use notes on your favorite colored stickies to help you remember.
  • Evaluate the appearance of your study environment. Make it look conducive to learning. A well-placed poster or an uncluttered desk may help in clearing your mind to be able to study better.
  • Write yourself encouraging notes and post them where you can see them.
  • Picture yourself succeeding - visualize that 'A' on an assignment, test, or project.

Auditory Learner

Auditory learners rely on hearing. You listen to messages in your mind. You can repeat conversations or verbal input word for word. You often know all the words to songs. Radios, iPods, etc. play an important role in your life. You may say, 'I hear you' or 'Sounds good' when you understand. You will also prefer to play 'Taboo' rather than 'Pictionary' or 'Gestures.'

Helpful Hints for Improving Auditory Input:

  • Choose the best classroom location for listening. Usually this is in the golden triangle of the class room (see illustration).

Golden Triangle

  • Tape record the class session and listen to your tape.
  • Ask questions in class and listen carefully to the replies.
  • Read the textbook and notes aloud to yourself as you study.
  • Record your textbook or class notes.
  • Teach yourself to read aloud in your mind without making sound. During exams, you can hear the test questions as well as see them.
  • Study with others. Talk about the course material.
  • Tell others, or your pets live or stuffed, what you are learning in class. Mentally replay these conversations during an exam.
  • When you study, choose auditory input in the background carefully.
  • Speak positively to yourself during your work.
  • Proofread your assignments out loud.
  • You may want to try setting a long or difficult idea to music.

Kinesthetic Learner


Kinesthetic learners need to move around and work manually with ideas. You touch things a lot. Smells and textures are important. You sometimes have difficulty sitting still in class just listening. The more activity you experience while doing a skill, the better you learn it. The more skin and muscles you use, the better you remember. Even small motions that seem unrelated to the activity such as swing a leg, drawing, or knitting help you understand ideas. You also enjoy playing 'Gestures' rather than 'Pictionary' or 'Taboo.' You learn best by doing or experiencing something. The more senses you can involve in learning, the better you will remember it.

Helpful Hints for Improving Kinesthetic Input:

  • Sit where you can actively participate in classroom events.
  • Sit where you can move as needed without disturbing others.
  • Draw pictures in class of the material being taught.
  • Take notes creatively.
  • Ask and answer questions.
  • Make models of the concepts whenever possible.
  • As you study, move around.
  • Walk and talk to yourself about material. Each lap you make, try moving at a different speed or style like skipping, sliding sideways, walking backwards, etc. Also include different voices. Sing, etc.
  • Work on a chalk or whiteboard when you can.
  • Incorporate pictures of models, if possible.
  • Pat yourself on the back - physically - when you do well.
  • Make sure your pen and writing materials please you.
  • Make physical comfort a priority as you study.
  • Make note cards, sample tests.

Multiple Intelligences

Harvard Professor Howard Gardner measures intelligence in eight areas. These probably measure your smarts ability better than an I.Q. test. Read the description of each intelligence. As you read, consider how you would rate your skill in that area: Weak, moderate, or strong. Shade the line from 1 to the number that you assess yourself for each intelligence.

  1. Bodily - Kinesthetic Intelligence is the ability to use the whole body or parts of it to develop products and solve problems: Athletes, dancers, construction workers, actors, physical laborers, and surgeons have strong bodily - kinesthetic intelligence. (Famous examples: Jose Canseco, Roberto Clemente, Tom Hanks, Peyton Manning, Michael Jordan, Mark McGwire, Shaquille O'Neal, Julia Roberts, Tiger Woods)

    Inteligence scale

  2. Interpersonal Intelligence is the ability to understand motivations and inner workings of other people and to work cooperatively with them. Teachers, mediators, negotiators, politicians, leaders, salespeople, and psychotherapists are good at this intelligence. (Famous examples: Cesar Chavez, Henry Cisneros, Bill Gates, Mahatma Gandhi, John F. Kennedy, Martin Luther King Jr., Gold Meir, Ronald Reagan, Eleanor Roosevelt, Mother Teresa)

    Inteligence scale

  3. Intrapersonal Intelligence is the ability in knowing and understanding one's own inner mental processes reflecting on thought, dreams, spiritual life, and motivations. Philosophers, authors, artists, psychotherapists, and many solitary individuals in all vocations have this intelligence. (Famous examples: Teilhard de Chardin, Milton Ehrichson, Karen Horney, Carl Jung, Thomas Merton, Claude Monet)

    Inteligence scale

  4. Logical-Mathematical Intelligence is the ability to think mathematically and logically, as well as to analyze and reason scientifically. Accountants, inventors, or repairment, teachers, and engineers all put information together symbolically or practically using this type of intelligence. (Famous examples: Marie Curie, Thomas Edison, Albert Einstein, Lise Meitner, Isaac Newton, Emmy Noether, Chien-Shiung Wu)

    Inteligence scale

  5. Musical Intelligence is the ability in interpreting, performing, and composing music using melody, rhythm, and harmony. Composers, conductors, jazz musicians, music teachers, rappers, and cheerleaders exercise this ability as they create or use music in their work. (Famous examples: The Beatles, Leonard Bernstein, Julio Iglesias, Beethoven, Mozart, Tito Puente, Linda Ronstadt, Poncho Sanchez, Barbara Streisand, Ritchie Valens, Irving Berlin, Ira and George Gershwin)

    Inteligence scale

  6. Naturalist Intelligence is the ability to see patterns and relationships in the natural world, classifying and discovering order. Scientists, biologists, botanists, and environmentalists exemplify this intelligence. (Famous examples: Rachel Carson, Jacques Cousteau, Charles Darwin, Albert Einstein, Rosalind Franklin, Barbara McClintock, Maria Mitchell)

    Inteligence scale

  7. Spatial Intelligence is the ability to form an abstract model of the three dimensional world and then solve problems using that model. People who do this well include astronauts, sailors, muralists, engineers, architects, surgeons, sculptors, and painters. (Famous examples: Judith Baca, Franklin Chang-Diaz, Leonardo da Vinci, Sam Maloof, Michelangelo, Ellen Ochoa, Auguste Rodin, Helen Rodriguez, Vincent Van Gogh, Frank Lloyd Wright, Picasso)

    Inteligence scale

  8. Verbal-Linguistic Intelligence is the ability with words in writing, story telling, discussing, interpreting, and talking. Poets, writers, lawyers, talk show hosts, teachers, secretaries, and editors who form thoughts and use words skillfully in their work are example of people strong in this intelligence. (Famous examples: Julia Alvarez, Maya Angelou, Agatha Christie, J.K. Rowling, Alex Haley, Edward Rivera, Oprah Winfrey)

    Inteligence scale

Write down your top three intelligences:

  1. ____________________________________________________________
  2. ____________________________________________________________
  3. ____________________________________________________________

How to Use Your Smarts

  • If you are strong in Bodily-Kinesthetic Intelligence, you should find movement in studying. Memory is triggered by location, so moving helps you learn and remember new concepts. This intelligence will help you as you lay out or act out problems physically using your muscles and movements. Try moving around randomly as you think over, discuss, and work on math problems, plan essays, or figure out assignments. Working on a large chalk or whiteboard will also help. Walking a large figure-eight shape as you go over notes, work out problems, study for tests will help you remember the content, because this movement changes your state of mind thus involving more functions in your brain.
  • If your Interpersonal Intelligence is strong, you do well organizing study groups and facilitating others, working together to discuss problems, assignments, or study for tests. Taking a leadership role, you will feel more comfortable and find that you will learn more. The teacher always learns the most. You may wish to volunteer to tutor students.
  • Strong Intrapersonal Intelligence means you may enjoy contemplating subjects on your own at least part of the time. If you are studying math, systems of thought and systems of social organization can be described in mathematical terms. Use your own thought processes to make notes, draw mind maps, anything that may help you remember the concepts you need to know.
  • If you are strong in Musical Intelligence, you may find the mathematical descriptions of what happens in music very fascinating and revealing. Putting formulas or important bits of information to music will help you remember. Some people can learn by listening to music. Be careful what you choose to listen to. It should be background music, and not something that takes away from your concentration
  • Having strong Naturalist Intelligence means you notice patterns and relationships. Use this in what you are studying by noticing similarities, differences, and categories. Beginning with the whole and working down into the parts may benefit you. It will be extremely important for you to have a working knowledge of the "big picture."
  • If your Spatial Intelligence is strong, you learn well by making models of problems - models that you can manipulate and move in order to understand symbolic meaning. Use clay or plastic straws to create geometric shapes. Use model cars or airplanes to simulate the action in motion problems involving distance, rates, and times. Use models or pictures to help remember history analogies.
  • If you are strong in Verbal-Linguistic Intelligence, use the ability to read a textbook to learn and understand the course you are studying. You may with to write symbols in words to make sense of them. If you are studying math you may want to write down the reasons for each step - so that you can see it in the language of words as well as the language of mathematics.

Use your intelligences! Find out how you learn, adapt if you need to, but make it work for you.

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