Each person learns in different ways, according to their abilities, so it is important to know and explore the different learning styles available in order to benefit and achieve a more successful process.
Learning styles do not refer to what people learn, but to the way they prefer to learn, the one that is most effective and easiest for them.
Today I want to delve into this topic and explain to you what a learning style is, which are the best known and what each of them is about, so that you can identify them and that they help you in your professional and personal development. .
Let’s start with the definition…
What is a learning style?
According to Keefe, learning styles are “those affective, physiological, and cognitive traits that tell us how people perceive and respond to the interactions given by the learning environment.”
It is nothing new that we do not all learn at the same pace, nor through the same methods, so learning styles came to give a certain particularity to the way we learn.
This can be verified in any group where there are more than two people.
Even though they all start from the same point, listen to the same things, and do the same activities, after a while, there will be differences in the knowledge of each member, because we all learn differently and progress at different rates.
These variations in the learning process are due to multiple factors :
- Affective traits : degree of motivation and expectation when learning.
- Cognitive traits : the way in which people organize information or content, that is, how they interpret it.
- Physiological factors : the rate at which each person learns.
The concept of style learning style is linked to the idea that learning is an active process and that each person elaborates and relates the information received based on their specific characteristics.
There is no single or most appropriate way to learn, this will always depend on the person.
There has been talk for a long time about the different learning styles, and some authors handle different categories, but they all, in reality, point to the same thing.
Next, I will tell you about the twelve most well-known learning styles and I will explain each one to you.
According to authors such as Alonso, Gallego and Honey, there are four learning styles, which I will mention at the beginning.
However, these are not the only ones, other authors, such as Gardner, establish a relationship between styles and multiple intelligences, according to the context of production and point out eight learning styles.
In this section we will see, as a whole, the learning styles proposed by the different authors mentioned, that is, we will know 12 learning styles .
Let’s start with the four mentioned by Alonso, Gallego and Honey.
1. Active learning style
In general, people who tend to prefer this style of learning are those who enjoy new experiences and have an open mind, so they don’t mind that the process includes challenges that test their abilities.
These are risky individuals, who like to improvise, what is spontaneous and who usually play leader or protagonist figures. Likewise, they tend to act first before thinking about the consequences.
This style of learning works best for people who prefer to execute this process through team competitions, group dynamics , role-playing, giving presentations, participating in discussions or meetings, or any other activity or exercise that promotes critical thinking.
Because the main role falls on the person, active learning requires a greater commitment on your part. There must be motivation, you will have to carry out a greater number of activities or readings, as the case may be, and you will have to pay more attention to what is being carried out in order to have good results.
The philosophy of individuals who prefer this learning style, according to Alonso, Gallego, and Honey, is “I’ll try anything once.”
2. Reflective learning style
People who prefer the reflective learning style tend to privilege experiences and look at everything from different angles. They usually collect information and analyze it carefully, in order to reach a conclusion.
These are individuals who think things through a lot before acting accordingly, and who learn from what others experience, from their way of acting and from what they say.
This learning style occurs when people prefer to study everything very well before drawing conclusions; For this reason, they tend to be doubtful and low-profile people, but behind that appearance there is a whole process, whose main purpose is to answer the question, why?
People who are more attached to the reflective learning style tend to feel more comfortable when they can adopt an observer stance, when they can analyze the situation, and when they have time to think before acting.
On the contrary, their learning process can be diminished when they are exposed to situations in which they have to be the center of attention, when they are conditioned in terms of time, or when they have to act without planning.
3. Theoretical learning style
People who prefer this style of learning tend to be perfectionists and often go through the process by adapting and integrating observations into logical and complex theories.
They like to analyze and synthesize all the information or knowledge they receive and favor rationality and objectivity, leaving aside the ambiguous or subjective.
They tend to be methodical, logical and critical people and learn better in situations where from the beginning they are clear about the purpose of a certain activity or task, they have the possibility of asking questions, and in scenarios in which emotional issues do not intervene too much.
The question that people who work best under this learning style seek to answer is: what?
4. Pragmatic learning style
Pragmatic people tend to feel comfortable putting what they learn into practice, both theories and techniques. However, they do not like to reflect on that information for a long time or constantly.
They usually have a great ability to solve problems and tend to look for the best method or the best way to perform certain tasks or actions.
Likewise, those who work best with this learning style prefer processes that involve establishing relationships between theories and practical situations or when they can observe the way in which a certain activity is carried out.
On the contrary, the learning process can be hindered when it occurs through abstract activities that are not related to reality, when they do not have an established objective or when they cannot relate the information or content to practical situations.
For the most part, they are down-to-earth, direct and effective people who like to test theories or ideas and who get bored in long discussions.
Having explained the four learning styles proposed by Alonso, Gallego, and Honey, let’s move on to Gardner’s multiple intelligences.
Gardner’s theory of multiple intelligences
In 1983, Gardner stated that there are different types of intelligence and that its stimulation helps to achieve better learning. It is about 8 types of intelligence that show the same number of learning styles.
People who develop this intelligence at a considerable level prefer to use logic and reasoning instead of contextualizing knowledge or theory, and often resort to the use of lists or schemes to organize information.
This learning style refers to the ability to reason, solve problems, and learn through numbers, abstract information, and the establishment of cause-effect relationships.
Some characteristics of the people with whom this learning style works best are the following :
# are organized
They have a penchant for all things organized, so they like to classify them according to the order they think is correct, based on pattern recognition.
# Logical reasoning prevails
For these people, logic is the watchword, so it is very difficult to believe in something if there is no evidence about it. One of their beliefs is that everything has a logical reason behind it, which is why they seek to get to the bottom or root of each issue, detect and analyze patterns, and find solutions.
# They have a scientific mind
They like to carry out scientific experiments, that is, processes that involve steps, making observations and presenting inferences.
6. Social (interpersonal)
This style of learning, also known as group learning, tends to be preferred by people who like to work alongside other individuals whenever they get the chance.
They achieve better learning through sharing their conclusions or experiences with others and listening to theirs.
This process involves four stages :
Being a process in which observation is essential, it is essential to pay attention. Any distractor could have a negative impact on the learning process.
You must have the ability to store the information or knowledge acquired during the process. This will determine the possibility of resorting to said data later.
It is the ability to recreate the model observed previously. Once the person has paid attention and has retained the content, they have to take action on what they have learned.
Any learning style requires motivation and this type is no exception. Social learning suggests that this motivation may be due to the idea of being rewarded or punished, because when we find ourselves in a similar situation, we will imitate or avoid certain behavior depending on our previous experience.
7. Solitary (intrapersonal)
Also called individual, this learning style is characterized by being preferred by individuals who prefer solitude and tranquility when they are in a learning process.
People who work best under this scheme tend to be thoughtful and focus on issues that are of interest to them. They are also well aware of their strengths and difficulties.
This learning style is related to linguistic intelligence due to its personal and internal nature, but it makes use of all the others to carry out the reflection process.
People who prefer this learning style usually do not have much ability to read texts, but they correctly assimilate images, graphics, videos or any other visual element.
By having this intelligence more developed, it may be necessary for these individuals to see the facial expressions of those who speak, as well as their body language, in order to better retain the lesson or content.
It is easier for them to read maps, diagrams and charts. Likewise, they tend to remember faces, but names are a little more difficult for them.
Some of the characteristics of people who prefer this style of learning are the following:
- They usually have good spelling
- They prefer to follow lectures in photocopies and not orally
- They prefer to read or make summaries
- They have difficulty remembering messages or verbal instructions
Visual learning is the most common and those who use this method tend to have more facilities than the rest to learn and function in an educational or professional context.
As the name implies, these people tend to learn better when they listen. That is, they learn more significantly in work or school spaces and not so much in isolation.
Individuals who prefer this style of learning benefit from teaching methods such as lectures, podcasts, debates, audiobooks, or even reading aloud what they want to understand or, failing that, memorize.
They tend to be people who know how to listen to others, who have facilities for music and languages and tend to be calmer than those who prefer visual learning.
10. Verbal or linguistic
This intelligence refers to the communicative capacity of human beings, both written and oral, as well as the different domains or levels of the word: morphological, syntactic and semantic.
People with this style learn best when they read or write, so they have a great capacity to express themselves and an ability to acquire vocabulary, understand grammar and learn languages.
Likewise, this learning style is related to thinking and introspection, since it allows a deeper reflection about ideas and knowledge. It is one of the most studied intelligences due to its relevance within the formal and traditional educational system.
This type of person learns best through bodily experimentation, that is, by doing something beyond reading or observing. For the process to be more satisfying and give more results, it must involve direct involvement in the practical application of the concepts you wish to acquire.
This style of learning tends to be slower, but the knowledge tends to be more solid and lasting. This method is given thanks to the muscle memory of the body, which is capable of acting through memories, stimuli or experiences.
An example of when kinesthetic learning is applied is when we learn the location of the keys on a device and we no longer need to look to type or when we learn to ride a bicycle; our body gets used to it and finds the right balance so that we don’t fall.
The last learning style refers to when individuals combine, to varying degrees, some of the styles addressed and find it effective for the acquisition of knowledge.
People who prefer multimodal learning are more dynamic compared to those who choose to develop or work through a single style.
This does not mean that many learning styles should be combined, but that a balance should be sought. More than three or four styles could even be counterproductive for the learning process.
It is well said that “every head is different” and, therefore, the way in which each person learns is particular and unique.
Educational institutions and, in general, people, must be able to identify how they can exploit the different types of learning for their own benefit, instead of wanting to adopt the styles of others, which may not be the best option for them.
Some individuals find it much easier to learn by listening and others by observing, because the photographs, images or colors stimulate their brain and allow them to learn in a better way.
You have a learning style; You may not have identified it yet, but there it is, it’s just a matter of thinking a little about the way you like to learn or the methods that facilitate this process for you.
There are no learning styles that are better than others. Everything lies in the functionality they have for you and your processes. Where you feel most comfortable, that’s it.