What is your Learning Style?

Learning Styles image


Cause for Friction:

There are times when no matter how close attention you pay, the information just doesn’t get registered.

Sometimes, it tires you to no limit as you try to explain something to a colleague or friend but they just don’t seem to be getting what you are saying. How much more simply could I sum up this, you wonder.

Meetings end in confusion, presentations are deemed having no impact.

You wonder, at times why people can’t even grasp some basic concepts.

It could be that there is a difference of learning styles.

Learning is not limited to school days. Training for a particular job, learning about the inside workings of an industry, learning about some new model of work that is going to be integrated in what you did until now: there are countless examples in our professional lives where you either need to learn or need to impart some knowledge to others.

It is important to have an understanding of the various learning styles:

  • To increase efficiency.
  • To save time and energy.
  • To learn better.
  • To teach or train better.


The Learning Styles:

The model of learning styles first devised by Dr. Richard Felder, Linda Silverman and Barbara Soloman during the late 1980s is one of the most widely used and comprehensive classifications out there. It was updated in 2002.

According to this, there are four dimensions to learning styles. Each dimension has two poles with a continuum in the space in between.

Sensory: Sensory learners look at everything concrete. They are concerned about hard facts and things which could be substantiated.

Intuitive: Intuitive learners look for meaning. Their eyes are open to theory. They process in terms of concepts.

Visual: Visual learners, as the name suggests, process in terms of visual representations. Graphs, diagrams, charts, pictures grab their attention.

Verbal: They explain/need explanation through words. Hearing, listening to, reading information is how they process it.

Active: Active learners like to manipulate objects, experiment, go for trial and error to figure things out. They work well with groups.

Reflective: They think, contemplate, evaluate, analyse. They figure out things by themselves.

Sequential: Sequential learns look for the building blocks to a big picture. They prefer to have information in a linear, orderly manner.

Global: They look at the big picture and then fill in the details. Their approach is much more holistic.


Being Aware Where You Lie on the Spectrum:   

It is important to be aware about one’s learning style so that one knows what they might be missing.

For example, a sequential learner might miss out on the big picture at times, and on the other extreme, a global learner might miss out on the smaller details.

Or, it might take an intuitive learner more time to understand the importance of facts which are needed to substantiate any theory. A sensory learner might underestimate the importance of conceptual clarity.

Visual learners might have trouble “reading” data that has not been presented in graphs and diagrams. Verbal learners might have a tough time handling audio visual learning where they can’t “read” anything.

Reflective learners could take a cue from active learners and focus on decision making rather than just poring over the available details. Active learners could learn some patience and learn to look (closely) before leaping.

Thus, as obvious as it sounds, it is important to strike a balance in terms of the aforementioned dimensions.

Whether you are the learner or the one imparting, it is necessary to identify your learning style, whether it’s a combination of many styles, where you lie in the continuum, what could be missing from your approach and what is the best thing about your approach, and try to understand the same about the person/group you are to learn from/ explain/train.