What is Your Learning Style?

By Karen Y. Silvestri

Understanding learning style preferences is not just for educators. Many people find it useful to learn their personal learning style preference so that they can perform better in their studies, on the job, and in their personal lives. While psychologists and sociologists have studied widely the concept of learning styles, a few basic styles stand out and have common ground with largely all of the theories throughout the study of learning style preference.

Some learners acquire and retain information best by seeing the information. These learners need to see the words on the page or the pictures of the task being worked out. Visual learners should be encouraged to keep notes and watch videos on the subject they are studying. This type of learner typically likes to read because this is how they process information.

Auditory learners need to hear the information presented to them. When asked to recall names, auditory learners remember better when they hear and can repeat the name. These learners do well when offered the opportunity to listen to a recording of a story or lesson, rather than just reading it themselves.

Field Dependence
People who are more likely to view concepts as a whole are called field dependent learners. They often have difficulties separating specific parts of a concept or situation. Field dependent learners are better with people and social situations and do well at remembering conversations. Because of their social learning tendencies, they work well in groups and lean towards subjects in the humanities such as literature and history.

Field Independence
These individuals do best in the sciences and math subjects. They tend to be logical thinkers who find taking the whole apart into its separate components. Field independent learners work well alone and do not depend on socialization for the learning process. They learn best when asked to perform problem solving tasks. They are meticulous note keepers and work quite naturally at looking at the whole picture and quickly separating it into various parts.

Types of Intelligences

Many theorists have broken learning types down into multiple intelligences. Robert Sternberg lists analytical, practical, and creative as the three top forms of intelligence (2002).

JP Guilford came up with 180 different types of intelligence in 1988.

The most widely used is Gardner’s Eight Intelligences which lists logical/mathematical, linguistic, musical, naturalist, spatial, bodily/kinesthetic, interpersonal and intrapersonal as the key types of intellectual learners (2003).

Educational Psychology, Robert Slavin, 2006

Understanding Your Learning Style

Guilford’s 180 Intelligences (graph)

Find Your Learning Style (test)


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