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Learn in your own style…


Guest articles > Learn in your own style


by: C. N. Ramya, Counseling Psychologist


You have probably noticed that when anything new to be learned, some say “let’s try it out and see how it works…..”, or others may say “let’s think it through first….”


Everybody will have their own preferred learning style, i.e. the natural way a person gathers and assimilates new information.


Basic Views on Learning Styles:


      Some people just run through the information provided but some people get into the details of it.


      Each one’s preference of presenting the information also differs, either in the form of text or in the form of pictures etc.


      Some learn the theory and some learn through practice sessions.


There is no such thing as “good” or “bad” learning style, it’s the way you prefer to learn new information. The important thing would be your awareness of your unique learning style. Once you know the nature of your learning style i.e. how best you learn, you will be able to capitalize on your strengths by improving your skills and learn more effectively.


Some well known views and expert comments are as follows:


David Kolb: Experiential Learning


David Kolb is one of the leading researchers in learning strategies and learning processes. His model uses the Lewin Cycle of adult learning. Kolb suggests that there are four stages that follow on from each other to complete the cycle of learning:

  • The first stage is concrete experience where a student has active experience of learning something first hand.
  • This is then followed by reflective observation on that personal experience.
  • The next phase of the cycle, abstract conceptualization, focuses on how the experience is applied to known theory and how it can then be modified for future active experimentation.



Source: Kolb, D. (1984) Experiential learning: experience as the source of learning and development.


Riding and Rayner: Cognitive styles analysis


Riding and Rayner have reviewed and integrated research on style differences in learning behavior and have developed the "cognitive styles analysis" which is designed to provide a method of assessing learning style.

Riding and Rayner suggest taxonomy for learning style models resulting in four broad groupings:

  1. Style Models based on the learning process
  2. Style models grounded in orientation to study
  3. Style models based on instructional preferences
  4. Style models based on cognitive skills development Style models based on cognitive skills development

Source: Riding, R and Rayner, S (1998) Cognitive Styles and Learning Strategies: Understanding Style Differences in Learning and Behavior. David Fulton Publishers.



Here is a chart helps you determine your learning style; read the word in the left column and then answer the questions in the successive three columns to see how you respond to each situation. Your answers may fall into all three columns, but one column will likely contain the most answers. The dominant column indicates your primary learning style.


When you..



Kinesthetic & Tactile


Do you try to see the word?

Do you sound out the word or use a phonetic approach?

Do you write the word down to find if it feels right?


Do you sparingly but dislike listening for too long? Do you favor words such as see, picture, and imagine?

Do you enjoy listening but are impatient to talk? Do you use words such as hear, tune, and think?

Do you gesture and use expressive movements? Do you use words such as feel, touch, and hold?


Do you become distracted by untidiness or movement?

Do you become distracted by sounds or noises?

Do you become distracted by activity around you?

Meet someone again

Do you forget names but remember faces or remember where you met?

Do you forget faces but remember names or remember what you talked about?

Do you remember best what you did together?

Contact people on business

Do you prefer direct, face-to-face, personal meetings?

Do you prefer the telephone?

Do you talk with them while walking or participating in an activity?


Do you like descriptive scenes or pause to imagine the actions?

Do you enjoy dialog and conversation or hear the characters talk?

Do you prefer action stories or are not a keen reader?

Do something new at work

Do you like to see demonstrations, diagrams, slides, or posters?

Do you prefer verbal instructions or talking about it with someone else?

Do you prefer to jump right in and try it?

Put something together

Do you look at the directions and the picture?


Do you ignore the directions and figure it out as you go along?

Need help with a computer application

Do you seek out pictures or diagrams?

Do you call the help desk, ask a neighbor, or growl at the computer?

Do you keep trying to do it or try it on another computer?

Adapted from Colin Rose(1987). Accelerated Learning.

Last modified: March 28, 1998
Yannis Grammatis


Visual Learners:

You learn the best when information is presented to you visually as a picture or as a design or in a written language format. You prefer using images, colours, maps, flow charts etc. to organize information and even while communicating with others.

Learning strategies:

      Use visual representations like diagrams, schematics, sketches, photographs, flow charts etc.

      To aid recall, make use of color coding using highlighter pens.

      Write out the phrases while summarizing.

      Mentally make pictures of information to remember them.

      Make use of video tapes or CD-ROM while learning.

      Make stick it notes and place them at visible places.


Auditory Learners:

You learn the best when the presented information is in an oral language format. You benefit through listening to others, interacting with people, participating in group discussion etc. Even while recalling something, you can remember the way someone told you or the way you previously repeated it.

Learning Strategies:

      Join a study group to exchange ideas/to learn new information.

      While learning, read aloud to aid recall.

      Create your own audio tapes to record the information which you need to learn, review it when necessary.

      Listen to others carefully, you will learn the best through that.

      Use audio tapes such as text books / notes on tape.


Kinesthetic & Tactile Learners:

The best of your learning comes out when you are physically engaged in an activity. A situation where in learning happens through experimentation will be beneficial for you. You prefer having hands-on experience and also field work.


Learning strategies:

      Take notes while learning new information.

      To remember key concepts make a model to illustrate.

      Visit museum, historical places etc. to gain the experience.

      Using of computer could act as a rein forcer as it aids in learning through sense of touch.


These are a simple and very few descriptions of learning style but generally in practice people will have a combination of all these characteristics where some will be prominent some may not.

While there is nothing like good or a bad learning style, there can be a good or bad way of matching in the way you learn and in the way it is taught, means there may be a mismatch between your learning style and instructional environment. And once you sense that, you can find ways to adapt your style of learning to ensure success. Hence you are developing learning strategies that work for you because they are based on your knowledge of your own learning style.


The Study conducted:

A “learning style inventory” was administered to 220 students. The objective of this is to assess the Students’ learning style which in turn helps them to capitalize on their strengths and improve their skills to learn more effectively. It was seen that out of the total number who took up the inventory on learning style, 180 students are visual learners, 24 are auditory learners and 16 of them fall under the category of kinesthetic learners.


Training Style:

Based on the finding, here are a few tips for the trainers which can be incorporated during their session. A blend of methods and materials has to be provided in such a way that it is flexible enough to learn different learning approaches and does not limit to a narrow range of methods, such as:

      Combine both theory and practice while teaching.

      Use information in the form of text and pictures.

      Provide opportunity to learn through one to one session and also through group activities.

      Carry out discussion on teaching styles and learning styles.

      Have a healthy combination of formal and informal learning.

      Use variety of material and delivering methods.

      Usage of more of visual representatives while explaining.

      Presentations through PowerPoint, Video tapes, CD-ROM etc.



Most of us will have elements of more than one learning style, but it will be useful to identify which is our strongest style. By thinking about our preferred and natural learning style, we may find learning much easier and quicker. Knowing our learning style may help us develop coping strategies to compensate for our weaknesses and capitalize on our strengths.


For further reading:

      Mumford, A. ( 1997 ) How to manage your learning environment.Peter Honey Publications.

      Riding, R and Rayner, S ( 1998 ) Cognitive Styles and Learning Strategies: Understanding Style Differences in Learning and Behaviour. David Fulton Publishers.

      Mumford, A. ( 1997 ) How to manage your learning environment. Peter Honey Publications.

      Learning Styles Presentation: A Powerpoint presentation from Virginia Havergal of Wiltshire College on the subject of Learning Styles. Includes slides on Multiple  Intelligence Theory.

      Honey and Mumford Learning styles questionnaire.

      Title: Learning styles and strategies: a review of research by Philip adey et al., ion info. London: king’s college London, school of Education. 1999.



Contributor: C. N. Ramya, Counseling Psychologist

Published here on: 16-Dec-06

Classification: Learning


Alternative version: MS Word version

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