Saturday, August 20, 2011

Learning Styles

There are three basic/common types of learning styles. They Visual, Auditory, and Kinesthetic.

Visual learners learn by seeing/looking/observing. Here are some clues that you might be a visual learner:

  • take numerous detailed notes
  • tend to sit in the front
  • are usually neat and clean
  • often close their eyes to visualize or remember something
  • find something to watch if they are bored
  • like to see what they are learning
  • benefit from illustrations and presentations that use color
  • are attracted to written or spoken language rich in imagery
  • prefer stimuli to be isolated from auditory and kinesthetic distraction
  • find passive surroundings ideal

Auditory learners learn by hearing/listening. Clues you may be an auditory learner:

  • sit where they can hear but needn't pay attention to what is happening in front
  • may not coordinate colors or clothes, but can explain why they are wearing what they are wearing and why
  • hum or talk to themselves or others when bored
  • acquire knowledge by reading aloud
  • remember by verbalizing lessons to themselves (if they don't they have difficulty reading maps or diagrams or handling conceptual assignments like mathematics).

Kinesthetic learners learn by doing and touching. Clues you may be a kinesthetic learner:

  • need to be active and take frequent breaks
  • speak with their hands and with gestures
  • remember what was done, but have difficulty recalling what was said or seen
  • find reasons to tinker or move when bored
  • rely on what they can directly experience or perform
  • activities such as cooking, construction, engineering and art help them perceive and learn
  • enjoy field trips and tasks that involve manipulating materials
  • sit near the door or someplace else where they can easily get up and move around
  • are uncomfortable in classrooms where they lack opportunities for hands-on experience
  • communicate by touching and appreciate physically expressed encouragement, such as a pat on the back
So, they're pretty straight forward. Also, it's not uncommon for people to have two stronger learner styles and one weaker one, or even use different learning styles for different tasks. Once you know what kind of leaner you are it can help you absorb information better. For example if you know that you are an auditory learner, reading flash cards or notes aloud to yourself will work better for you than just looking at them or writing them.

Most martial arts instructors will teach using a combination of all three of these to accommodate all learning styles. They will demonstrate a technique for the class (visual) while explaining what they are doing (auditory) usually followed by having the students work on the technique or by working one on one with the student (kinesthetic).

If you tend to go through the motions as you watch your instructor do the movements, you are probably a kinesthetic learner. If you are able to just observe and absorb the instruction that way, you are probably visual, and if you find yourself listening more than watching or repeating instructions back to yourself, you are probably auditory. 

For more information about this read "Way to Black Belt" or "Teaching the Martial Arts". One thing that Wilder and Kane discuss in "Way to Black Belt" is that once you have identified your learning style you should discuss with your instructor what your learning style is.

If you are uncertain as to what your learning style may be, just google "Learning Styles" and you'll come up with information as well as quizzes to help you determine where you fall. :)


  1. Visual learner here - which I've known for a long time. Occasionally when training, I'll need to see AND do it to for a better understanding, but afterwards, I'm all about the note-taking. Fascinating just the same, though. Thanks for sharing it...

  2. The gentle art of verbal self-defense talks about these senses. She, Dr. Elgin, called them "sensor modes."

    In a nutshell you try and detect that sensory mode and then you match it to create synchronicity. This applies to teaching as well.

    Syncractic listening involved an awareness in detecting the sensory mode as well as satir modes to deescalate.

    Using the same method an instructor can detect the primary sensory mode and then match it in instruction, etc.

    Those two associate instructors in your previous post failed to "actively listen" and then "match your sensory mode" so they could connect and instruct to your needs.

    To bad for them. You will find that although Dr. Elgin's books are geared toward verbal communications that they will cover the topic's you present here so well.


  3. Felicia - Thanks! I, as mentioned, am Kinesthetic to a large degree, but visual is a strong second for me. Go us for note taking!

    Charles - I think all around the whole night was a little off for everyone. There was a bit of lack of communication on both parts, and to be fair one the instructors did pull me aside to work with me after the whole exchange in a way that was helpful to me. He let me do the technique on him several times explaining to me as I went through it. It felt like we were all sort of stuck in some kind of freak verbal OODA loop and we were all getting frustrated. Also, one of the instructors told me that they usually stay late after class to discuss students and their learning styles, good and bad they saw out of each student that night and how best to help them in the future. So while maybe that particular class didn't go so well, I expect classes in the future to be much better.