Effective Solutions Through Partnership

How Identifying Your Learning Style can Help You Retain Information

Learning, Training

Learning Styles

By Melissa McManus

Leonardo da Vinci reminds us, “Learning is the only thing that the mind never exhausts, never fears, and never regrets.” We are constantly learning, whether we know it or not. Humans are hardwired to learn, to take in their surroundings through sight, sound, smell, and touch. Understanding how you learn and absorb information can help you retain that information and use that knowledge or skill later in life.

The question become, how do we learn? As a life-long learner and knowledge-seeker myself, I set out to get more information. Per Howard Gardner, Professor of Cognition and Education, there are seven ways in which we learn:

  1. Interpersonal (social) – people smart
  2. Visual/spatial – picture smart
  3. Physical/Kinesthetic – body smart
  4. Intrapersonal (solitary) – self smart
  5. Auditory/musical – music smart
  6. Linguistic/Verbal – word smart
  7. Logical/mathematical – logic smart

Let’s look at the particulars of these different learning styles:

  1. Interpersonal Learners: Learn best through interactions and discussions with other people, such as working in groups on projects.
  2. Visual Learners: Learn best through visualization, such as looking at pictures, diagrams, and drawings.
  3. Kinesthetic Learners: Learns best through movement, physical activity, role-play, and hands-on activities.
  4. Intrapersonal Learners: Independent learners who have strong self-awareness; they are motivated internally.
  5. Musical Learners: Learn best through rhythm and sounds; like to study using songs and rhyming.
  6. Linguistic Learners: Learn best through words; enjoy such activities such as reading and writing.
  7. Logical Learners: Learn best through seeing patterns and relationships, such as working puzzles and doing experiments.

While all of these styles are different, there is not one best way to learn—one learning style is not better than another. In fact, most people are a combination of different learning styles. Usually, we have a dominate style and we use the other styles (subordinate) to aid us in the learning process.

So, what can you do with all this newfound knowledge? Here are some ideas:

  • When teaching someone something, regardless of the subject matter, keep these different learning styles in mind when developing content and a delivery method for that content. It is not necessary to include every learning style; however, the more of them that you can incorporate into your curriculum or training, the better the learner(s) will absorb and can use that information. If the learner can retain the information presented, then it becomes valuable and they will come back for additional training or skill development.
  • The next time you want to learn something new, take inventory of your own personal learning style, then seek out resources—webinars, videos, white papers, etc.—that fit with your individual needs. This can help you retain more information and make learning more enjoyable!

 Quiz time! What’s your learning style? Which ways do you best retain information?

About the Author: Melissa McManus is a Human Resources Specialist and Researcher by profession and loves every minute of it. One of her greatest strengths is her resolute ability to soak in new information and her never-ending thirst for knowledge. Melissa has a Master’s degree in Counseling, and a Doctorate degree in Educational Leadership with a focus in Human Resource Development. Melissa’s professional interests include human behavior, career development, research, writing, training, and knowledge transfer. She is passionate about life and describes herself as an avid bookworm. In her free time, when she is not running her kids to gymnastics or karate, Melissa enjoys reading (a lot), wine tasting, CrossFit, being with friends/family, and spending time with her husband and two children.

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