The 8 Learning Styles: Which One Works for You?

Nayomi Chibana

Written by:
Nayomi Chibana


Remember back in school when you used to compare your talents with those of your classmates? In every classroom you could find a few or all of the following: the book worm, the class clown, the artist, the jock, the math genius, the well-rounded one, and, of course, the infamous slacker.

Some of us might have believed that our talents were superior to others or that classmates without any notable skill--such as the unpopular student with straight Fs--were somehow overlooked by Nature.

We could not have been more mistaken.

Recent research has shown that different people learn in different ways and that our current educational system--with its one-size-fits-all model--is probably catering to only a handful of the learners in their classrooms. The rest are forced to adapt--or not, as in the case of the "slow" student.

Although you've probably heard of the concept of learning styles before, it's most likely limited to an understanding of visual, auditory and kinesthetic learning. In this post, we will go further and cover the eight different learning styles, which is based on psychologist Howard Gardner's theory of multiple intelligences. And if you're eager to determine your own learning style before you read on, take this 5-minute quiz, created by Branton Shearer of M.I. Research and Consulting.


Unique Processors of Information


Although most people have a combination of these eight different learning styles, most of us have a preferred method of processing information. Each has its own strengths and weaknesses, but there is no one right way to learn.

Also, it is important to note that just because you fall into a certain category, such as social learning, this does not mean that you are destined to fail subjects requiring logical learning, such as math and science. This diagnostic is not meant to limit your capabilities, but rather to give you greater insight into how you uniquely process information.

With that said, let's delve into the different learning styles and how each can be addressed within a classroom or professional setting.



1 Visual

The visual or spatial learner is often referred to as a right-brained learner. This person is typically good at deciphering visual data in the form of maps and graphs. While they excel at subjects such as geometry, they struggle with arithmetic and numbers in general. Incorrectly labelled as "late bloomers" for their struggles with reading and writing, these learners simply see the world in a different manner: They are imaginative, think outside of the box and quickly process what they see rather than what they hear.

Ways to Enhance Retention

  • Use charts, graphs, maps, diagrams, time lines and infographics.
  • Implement digital tools and technology to assist learning.
  • Replace words with colors and images.
  • Create outlines with different levels instead of blocks of text.
  • Highlight important points in text.


2 Verbal

A bit different from the previous category, verbal learners are adept at processing information through the use of language. They excel at reading, writing, listening and speaking. They have an excellent memory for things they have read and enjoy all types of word games, puns, rhymes and tongue twisters. Many of them also enjoy learning different languages. These learners particularly enjoy their writing, drama and speech classes.

Ways to Enhance Retention

  • Take thorough notes.
  • Go over old tests.
  • Reread and rewrite your notes.
  • Make summaries of your notes.
  • Create lists with key words and phrases to help you remember concepts.
  • Use acronym mnemonics to assist in recall.


3 Logical

This type of learner is skilled at mathematical and logical reasoning. They are able to solve problems involving numbers and can easily decipher abstract visual information. They are also adept at analyzing cause and effect relationships and tend to think linearly. They like to classify and group information, as well as create ordered lists, agendas and itineraries. They are able to perform relatively complex calculations in their heads and enjoy strategy games such as chess and backgammon.

Ways to Enhance Retention

  • Try to understand the key concepts behind lessons. Don't just memorize.
  • Extract key information from notes such as statistics and facts to create lists.
  • Turn material and lessons into strategic mind games.
  • Stimulate your mind by playing computer math games and solving brain teasers.
  • Create specific goals and incentives and record your progress.



4 Auditory

The auditory (musical) learner thinks in sounds rather than images. They think chronologically and learn best through step-by-step methods. Unlike visual learners, they have an impeccable memory for conversations and enjoy debates and discussions. They have strong language skills and perform well on oral exams. As the name suggests, they also have musical talents and are able to discern individual notes, rhythms and tones. On the downside, they have difficulty interpreting facial expressions and gestures, as well as complex graphs and charts.

Ways to Enhance Retention

  • Participate in discussions and debates.
  • Read aloud.
  • Memorize material.
  • Listen to music while you go over material.
  • Use jingles or rhymes to remember new material.
  • Use mnemonic devices.

5 Social

The social (interpersonal) learner is unique in his/her ability to learn best through interactions with other people. They usually enjoy working through topics in a group setting and bouncing ideas off of other people. Social learners are gifted at reading others' emotions and facial expressions, as well as relationship dynamics. They are also very good at identifying the root cause of communication problems.

Ways to Enhance Retention

  • Seek cooperative learning settings.
  • Use role playing to enhance learning.
  • Teach others what you have learned.
  • Engage in language exchange programs.
  • Join a volunteer or service-oriented group.
  • Interview others to learn about their perspectives.


6 Intrapersonal

The intrapersonal, or solitary, learner likes to use self-study and work alone. Usually, solitary learners are in tune with their feelings, who they are and what they are capable of doing. These types of learners are very independent, so they guide themselves on their journey to learning something new each day. They are particularly gifted in the areas of self-management and self-reflection.

Ways to Enhance Retention

  • Find a quiet but comfortable place to study alone.
  • Establish personal learning goals and track your progress regularly.
  • Keep a learning journal or log.
  • Reflect on what you have already learned and think through new material.
  • Find connections between what you have already learned and new material.



7 Physical

Physical (kinesthetic) learners are always moving and doing something with their hands. They learn best when their bodies are involved in the learning process. This can mean anything from creating artwork with their hands to being able to manipulate what is being learned. These types of learners benefit from larges spaces that enable them to draw and write. They can also find walking back and forth while reading conducive to their learning. It comes to no surprise that physical learners are many times athletically gifted and tend to live in the present moment rather than in the future or the past.

Ways to Enhance Retention

  • Hands-on lessons are the ideal method of learning.
  • Review and recite notes while doing other physical activities, such as walking, jogging or riding a stationary bike.
  • Use role playing or mime games to act out subject material.
  • Teach someone else the material.
  • Turn lessons into art projects.
  • Make graphs, pictures and maps to involve all the senses.


8 Naturalistic

These types of learners process information best when it is related to finding patterns in nature and applying scientific reasoning to the understanding of living creatures. They usually grow up to be farmers, naturalists or scientists. These learners particularly enjoy being outdoors and connecting with Nature. They are often found observing and appreciating plants and animals in rural settings.

Ways to Enhance Retention

  • Imagine your learning material is a new ecosystem you must understand through the recognition of patterns.
  • Identify and classify different plants and animals.
  • Pick topics that are related to daily life, Nature or people to increase your interest in the subject matter.
  • Approach your learning environment as you would field research: Observe and record data.

65% of the population are visual learners

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About the Author

Nayomi Chibana is a journalist and writer for Visme’s Visual Learning Center. Besides researching trends in visual communication and next-generation storytelling, she’s passionate about data-driven content.

16 responses to “The 8 Learning Styles: Which One Works for You?”

  1. […] These negatives may include the fact that not all students learn the same way, in total there are eight different learning styles that students  may or may not favour. On the positive note, there are definitely pros to the Tyler […]

  2. EM Nelson says:

    I tend to be a visual learner. I have always found it beneficial to re-read and re-write notes in retaining information. With all of the controversy surrounding the concept of learning styles recently, it is refreshing to see the idea presented as a method of retention beyond the initial classroom setting. I think that the concepts of ‘teaching method’ and ‘learning style’ are often interchanged and confused, and such confusion contributes to the controversy.

    • Hi Erin. Thanks so much for your input. More than a rigid model designed to restrict learners to a specific method of retention, I think these can serve as general and flexible descriptions of how we retain information differently. And, of course, each of us may have more than one learning style.

  3. LNWeaver says:

    That makes sense that the right-brained visual learner would get a lot out of charts and images. They would be very grounded in facts. I bet you could information to stick for someone like that by adding artistic and drawing elements to a presentation.

  4. Robert Zotti says:

    I’m all in favor of varying the activities in the classroom to help students learn and retain course concepts. You certainly don’t want to have a single type of interaction or learning activity (such as reading one textbook after another) crowd out all the others (including discussions, reflections, or even viewing videos). But when I see the infographs that talk about the effectiveness of learning styles in nice round numbers (“people remember 80% of what they see, but only 20% of what they read…”), it reminds me of the very controversial Learning Pyramid. Do you have specific references from peer-reviewed journals that talk about the retention of specific course content within the context of the different learning styles and/or learning preferences? I’m specifically interested in courses related to management, engineering, and computer science.

  5. Kendell Meistre says:

    it has been most interesting to discover that I am both a social and a kinesthetic learner, who thoroughly enjoys bouncing ideas off others and does walk backwards and forwards while reading notes for exams. This walking helps me to visualise the main points. This exercise certainly assits in making me more sensitive to the needs of the children I will support through brightsparkz.

  6. Leah says:

    I found this article helpful as well. I’m predominantly a visual learner so I love pictures, videos, color, maps, and highlighters too. As a child I loved going to the library downtown to pick out a picture book to read. I also excelled at art class and found geography easy. Art and geography were my favourite subjects. I’m definitely a good speller as well.
    I place emphasis on physical appearance and show a good sense of fashion. Additionally I carried a set of flash cards with me for lessons.
    I was always doodling on something or drawing. Certainly one of my favourite hobbies to do is gaze at scenery or daydream about something.

  7. Robin says:

    Wonderful article. I feel like I’m partly skillful to all better in a few, but master of none.

    There might be a typo in the 3rd sentence of the kinetic write up,

    ‘Space that enable “to” them to’…

    But maybe I’m wrong. I consider myself amongst the 65% of the crowd.


  8. Edmund says:

    Wow that’s interesting, I didn’t know that 65% of the population are visual learners. I don’t think it’s possible to fully identify oneself with just one learning style. For myself, I’m a visual learner but at the same time, I study better on my own. So in my opinion, it’s just how we qualify ourselves as a certain type of learner

  9. Shehu Daburau says:

    To learn and to learn, we are provided with tools. In a situation of duality of purpose, it is as well easier to know which side of the tool is one’s handle of it. Thanks

    Shehu Daburau, Kano

  10. HG says:

    I read this article for a class and found myself taking notes on the entire thing so that I can review them to work on an assignment based on these different learning styles. I actually could see myself a bit in all of the styles but perhaps strongest in the verbal category and strong in social as well as intrapersonal. Some styles made me think of one or another of my children as well as my husband who is definitely strong in the naturalistic category. Lots to think about especially when thinking about these styles from a teaching point of view.

  11. Oscar says:

    I really thought learning styles is only divided into 3. Thanks for these tips. Have to differentiate instructions for each one for best results.

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