Cognitive Learning Styles

Through in-depth research I hope to discover how learners most efficiently and effectively perceive, process, store and recall what they are attempting to learn. Understanding how we learn is of paramount importance in identifying how to perform at the best of our ability.

It is commonly agreed that cognitive learning styles can be reduced to roughly three modalities – visual, kinesthetic and auditory.  Although everyone displays traits within each category, each learner has one dominant method of obtaining information.

Essential Strategies and Characteristics of Visual Learners 

They prefer to process and learn information in visual forms e.g. pictures, charts, or printed information such as lists or paragraphs.

  • Highlighted textbooks and notes
  • Create “movies in their minds” of information they are reading
  • Create visual study tools – visual mapping, hierarchies, and comparison charts to show levels of detail
  • Visualize information – can easily recall and understand information presented in pictures, charts or diagrams
  • Obtain strong visual – spatial skills e.g. shapes, textures, angles and dimensions
  • Have a good eye for colors, design, visual balance and visual appeal
  • Highly observant
  • Willingness to write – recall information by writing it in their own words rather than the printed text.
  • Textbooks that heavily contain diagrams or visuals
  • Watch video’s explaining the subject matter e.g. Khan Academy, You Tube
  • Replace words with symbols or initials – increasing strength of association


Essential Strategies and Characteristics of Auditory Learners 

They prefer to process and learn information by hearing and discussing information. They learn by listening to others explain, debate, summarize and discuss information that they are studying.

  • Actively listen and participate in discussion by explaining information in their own words, expressing their understanding or opinions, and providing comments and feedback to other speakers
  • Have keen auditory memories – tones, rhythms, songs, jingles
  • Study groups are beneficial for this modality of learning
  • Frequently ask questions to clarify information
  • Frequently recite information out loud to activate their auditory channel
  • Use voice memo’s to review notes in own words
  • Word association – mnemonic devices


Essential Strategies and Characteristics of Kinesthetic Learners 

They prefer to process and learn information through tactile movements and hands- on experiences.  This involves feeling, handling, using, manipulating, sorting, assembling and experimenting with concrete objects or by using full body movement.

  • Learn best by working with physical objects and engaging in hands-on learning
  • Role-playing, dancing or performing
  • Thrives on activity and exploration
  • Often draws while listening to process information
  • Use hands-on learning – handling objects, tools, or machinery that they are studying e.g. computer applications
  • Create flashcards that they can shuffle, spread out, sort, categorize, and review
  • Memory games to memorize facts
  • Copy charts, diagrams, visual mappings, or hierarchies; cut them apart and practice reassembling the peices
  • Exaggerated hand expressions or body movements for emphasis
  • Use action-based activities – convert study information into a game
  • Using a computer for notes – by typing the information this stimulates active movement
  • Study in shorter periods, but also shorter breaks- tend to have relatively short attention spans when studying




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