Seven Styles of Learning & How They Apply to Your Students

Seven Styles of Learning & How They Apply to Your Students

seven styles of learning

What are the seven styles of learning?  How do they apply to your students, regardless of the style of school you are teaching in?  I would like to talk about what those styles are, how you work with them as a teacher, capitalizing on your own style strengths, and how you bring along all of your students on their journey through education.

I grew up in a small town in an even smaller private school. The method of learning in the school was very one-size-fits-all.  Unfortunately, that fact bore out in the academic results of students who went through the program.  There were many middle-of-the-road students, a few that excelled, and more than a few that got very little out of the program.  

I was one of the lucky ones because my style of learning was very self driven.  It almost didn't matter where or how I got my education.  I would read just about any book I got my hands on.  I was always looking to learn about the next thing.

Unfortunately, that was not the case for the majority of the students.  And they suffered academically for it.

Identifying the Need

The truth is, there are a lot of schools that feel so trapped in their procedures that students are not able to find their preferred learning style and flourish academically.  Teachers find it difficult to address the learning needs of their students because of limitations in the classroom from many different angles.  It could be too many students in a class, too little time, or  trying to teach to upcoming tests.  There are countless other things that hinder progress in the classroom.

For a few students, it won't matter how good or poor their educational structure is.  They will find a way to thrive regardless.  But for the majority of students, there is a need for quality education.  They need a program that can teach them concepts, how to think, and how to continue to grow once the course(s) are over.  But maybe most importantly, the material they are learning needs to be delivered to them in ways that they relate to.

So What are the Seven Styles?

For now, let's focus on those styles of learning and how we can implement them in the classroom, even when the odds and clock are against us.

The seven styles are broken up into five actual learning styles and then two personal styles.

The five actual learning styles are:

  1. Aural
  2. Logical
  3. Physical
  4. Verbal
  5. Visual

The two personal styles are:

  1. Social
  2. Solitary

This chart will help you see it in perspective:

It is important to note that everybody has multiple strengths as well as multiple weaknesses in these styles.  That works to everybody's advantage, though, since many times it is not possible to choose the best or preferred style.

Here is another chart you can print up for your classroom to help you evaluate and organize your students in a way that allows you to reach them the best based on their strengths.  There are only 6 spaces for names on each chart to try to keep the groups of students who learn similarly manageably small.  You can print up the number you need to fit all of the students and then group them to suit your classroom.

Strengths Table

So for now, let's look at each style in depth as well as some examples to put to use in the classroom.  Note that they are in alphabetical order, not order of popularity or importance.

1. Aural Learning Style

This style is also known as auditory learning. The aural style is when the student learns by listening.  Then it is usually backed up by talking about the things that they listened to.  Interestingly, this is probably the least likely to be a strength for the majority of students because of its lack of tactile reinforcement.  Because there is not a physical component to it, it takes a pretty special skill of listening well to be a strength.  Many people are too busy thinking about processes, or working through the situation they are in to actively listen.  Because of this, it is hard to get the most out of auditory learning.

One of the main characteristics of auditory learners are that they are eager to listen. But they are generally even more eager to discuss what they are learning to cement it into their mind.

How we Apply it

There are ways we can help auditory learners to learn better in the classroom.  Those include keeping distractions and noise in the classroom to a minimum,  keep auditory students away from windows and doors that activity are constantly coming from, and use rhythm, music, or repetition in your lessons to help them retain what they have heard.

2. Logical Learning Style

The logical learning style is also known as the logical-mathematical learning style.  The logical learning style capitalizes on reasoning things out, solving problems, and thinking along the lines of if-then ("if I ______, then ______ will happen").

You will quickly identify the logical learning style students in your class.  They are the ones that are eager to help you solve a problem when they see it.  They will also argue frequently, exercising their great reasoning skills.  These qualities can be frustrating at times, especially with elementary/middle school aged students.  I like to think of them as ahead of their time.  Those skills will serve them well as adults if they learn to hone them well.  And what better time to help them do that then in their early and middle school years?   I learned pretty early on that rather than responding to their arguing by expecting them to stop, I got much better results by asking them questions and engaging in dialog that allowed them to work through the process and bring their mind around to what was happening in class.  This procedure allowed them to learn how to work things out in a healthy and not demanding way.  It is a great way to help middle school students learn how to work things out when they face difficulties in all of life.  What a great life lesson!

How we Apply it

What are some ways we can actively help logical learners in the classroom?  One would be to integrate problem solving discussions in the beginning of lessons.  See where they take their logic.  If they lead into your lesson, that is great confirmation for you as a teacher.  If not, you have the ability to gently guide their thinking into the lesson points.  Either way, your teaching skills are reinforced by helping your students proactively think through the lesson from the beginning.

They will be doing way more than just absorbing information.  They will be internalizing the concepts and applying them to life--in the classroom and out in the world.

3. Physical Learning Style

The physical learning style is also known as the bodily-kinesthetic learning style.  This style manifests in the student using touch to reinforce their learning experience.

This learning style will become obvious to you as you observe the students utilizing it.  You will see younger students constantly getting into things to experience them--picking them up, evaluating what makes them work, sometimes taking them apart to figure out all the components they are made of.

Older students will be more engaged in sports or classes that allow them to physically move around or manipulate objects that they are learning about.  They will also enjoy taking things apart to see what makes them tick.  They also tend to be really good at hand-eye coordination and, of course, video games.

This learning style shows up more in boys than in girls.  I grew up in a house full of girls.  We generally kept everything pristine and in its place.  What a shock when I had a slew of sons, all of which loved to tear things apart in order to see how they worked and if they could make them work better!  It took me a pretty long time to realize that they weren't just being destructive.  They were learning how things work.  And they were taking that knowledge to go out and make their own inventions.  It was a really cool life lesson for me!

How we Apply it

So how can we make this learning style work better in our classroom?  For younger students, the use of manipulatives to drive home the lesson.  This is also very helpful for visual learners! Props and activities that allow them to do activities and participate in the teaching of the lesson also help to reinforce the concepts that they are learning.  Actively participating in the lesson (for younger as well as older students) is also great encouragement for them. They are learning leadership skills that will prepare them for great things as adults! Incorporating games that reinforce the theme also help all of the students to internalize the lessons.  And they don't even realize they are learning because they are having a great time!  Even better, they will fondly remember those classes well into their adult years.  How's that for retention?

4. Verbal Learning Style

The verbal learning style sounds like it is a strength in spoken words, but it actually includes written words as well.  Reading and speaking are both critical parts of this learning style.  Those who favor this learning style tend to prefer to read or discuss things that they are learning to activities or more physical methods of learning.

You will easily recognize these students as the ones who can't put a book down.  It could be books they are reading, or journals that they are writing in.  You will also see them actively participating in class discussion.  You will probably also see them still discussing favorite things they have learned on the playground and also in various places after class.  This is great reinforcement for them.

How we Apply it

There are a couple of ways to apply this.  These concepts work equally well in younger students as well as older.  The first is to intentionally leave time for classroom discussion.  Even the less verbal learners will love this process too.  The reason students love this so much is because they feel like they are being listened to. They feel that their ideas and thoughts are valuable to others.  And getting the ear of the teacher is so incredibly encouraging to them.  This will develop confidence in students to share their ideals with others and is great training for their future!

If you have introverted students that you know will not be comfortable sharing with the whole class listening, you could bring it up to them in personal conversation sometime during the school day. Some good times would be while lining up for the next activity, or while packing up to go home.  There are lots of little snippets of time that you could encourage introverted students to share their thoughts without putting them on the spot.  Who knows--maybe by the end of the year you will have helped them to come out of their shell a little bit?

Another great way to implement this in the classroom is by dramatic readings, either by tape while the class follows along in their books, or by having the kids take turns doing the reading.  Guiding them into reading with feeling is a valuable life-long lesson.

5. Visual Learning Style

The visual learning style is probably the one that resonates with the most students.  Almost everybody learns well visually.  This includes anything that relates to seeing their lesson:  pictures, books, videos, props, colorful things, literally anything they see that is related to what they are learning.  Because of the nature of the classroom (being that it is a physical place), this is the easiest way to encourage learning.

You will recognize students with this strength in several ways.  They will actually have several of the previous learning styles mixed in as well.  You will see them inspecting things and handling them (physical/kinesthetic).  You will see them audibly taking in what they are looking at (videos and such).  Observe them categorizing what they are learning in ways that make it easier to remember (logical).  You will see them doing this when they are closing their eyes to cement what they have just seen in their minds.  A couple more distinctions  that they manifest would be that they tend to be very detail oriented as well as artistic.

How we Apply it

Fortunately, it is a good thing that most people learn the best with this learning style.  Schools are able to cater to this learning style the most.

Having great visual displays on tabletops is more than just decorative and aesthetically pleasing.  It is critical to visual learners.  Awesome bulletin boards fall into this category as well.  With a few tweaks in the process, bulletin boards can be amazing and look like they took more creativity and time than a teacher has.  But the teacher will know better.  Expect more on this in a future article!

Crafts that cater to details are an amazing way to reinforce learning in a way that makes the students forget they are in school or whatever learning environment they are in.

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6. Social Learning Style

This is also called the Interpersonal learning style.  This category and the next are a bit of a departure from the previous styles in that they speak more to personality than learning style.  They are also quite a bit more obvious than the other styles, which you must learn after getting to know your students.  The social and solitary learning styles will be very obvious within your first day with your students.

The social learning style is a bit of a two-edged sword.  Social learners tend to be easy to reach emotionally and engaged.  They are eager to participate in classroom activities.  Speeches and presentations present little difficulty.  But they can also be easily distracted as well as distract others easily.  Like all things, striking a balance is key.  Helping them to harness their social skills in the best ways is a great lesson to impart.

How we Apply it

Social learning styles are super easy to implement in the classroom because they happen quite naturally.  An extended discussion that allows you to reinforce even more than what they learned in the lesson, a game or activity to drive home the points of the lesson, letting volunteer students come up to summarize certain points of the lesson (they get to play teacher for a few minutes), are a few of the nearly infinite ways you can encourage social interaction in learning.  Literally, the sky's the limit--maybe even further!

7. Solitary Learning Style

This final learning style is the counterpart to number 6, the social learning style.  And just like number 6, it is also a two-edged sword.  Solitary learners tend to stay away from busy social hubs and activity in the classroom.  It looks like they are unwilling to participate at times.  But generally speaking, what is really going on is that they are busy in their own learning process.  They are great observers, watching everything that is going on from a distance and taking it in.  Or they are busy reading a book or writing about what they are learning.

There are times that they may be hiding in a corner for the sake of hiding.  And sometimes that is okay.  We don't know exactly what is going on in their life that could be causing them to want to take a break of sorts.   But it does give us an opportunity to take a minute out of our day to ask how they are doing in an unintrusive way.  Gaining trust over the school year in a way that they learn that they can confide in you is something that could influence them in a life-changing way.

How we Apply it

There are some great ways to apply this in a way that over the school year helps solitary students not only learn to come out of their shell but thoroughly enjoy it as well.  They could be thriving socially (at least at times) by the end of the year.  And to help them learn to be comfortable about it is such a huge step for their development!

On the flip side, maybe your solitary learners love their solitude because it is in their nature and not because there is a problem.  While we do want them to learn to enjoy making a presentation or be a bit more social with their peers, we also need to be sensitive to the fact that some people just simply prefer solitude.  Trying to change students’ mannerisms can be more harmful than helpful in the long run.

Solitary learners are great independent learners.  So one way to capitalize on that is to give them a special project to do.  Extra credit or a reward at the end of a job well done are great incentives.

Another great idea for them is to split the class into small groups for activities or projects.  You will need to make sure that the class is sectioned off in groups that are likeminded but will also be productive together.  The tougher groups can be stationed near the teacher or assistant so that they can get the extra guidance needed to make their small group successful in its endeavors.

Conclusion

This article was a very brief summary of all of the styles of learning. Consequently, I plan to give each style of learning it's own in-depth article in the next couple of weeks.  Feel free to weigh in on your thoughts regarding your experience with particular learning styles in your own classroom situations.

For an article on implementing variety that encourages everybody's learning styles, click here.

This Post Has 70 Comments

  1. This is awesome and a great way to share that not everyone learns the same way. Thanks so much for sharing this with all of us!

  2. Cristina Pop

    This is so amazing! It’s about time that everyone knows that not all people learn the same way, and in the same time.

    1. Marie

      Yes! And if more classrooms could change the one-size-fits-all methods, our kids education will be so much better (to be fair, a lot of schools are looking into these things now, so I think we will see great things sooner than later).

  3. Amber Myers

    Yup, all kids learn differently. I always liked the visual approach, and I’d prefer to do it alone.

  4. Nyxinked

    I’ve recently learned about different learning styles through my life coaching course. It’s fascinating how we all learn differently.

    1. Marie

      The more I study it, the more interesting it all becomes!

  5. Joanna

    This was a very interesting read and very useful for new teachers. Children do learn differently and whilst some might be stimulated by visual, others might have a good auditive memory.

  6. Now if only they had teachers who could teach a whole classroom of these different styles. I have had kids who were hands on and visual

    1. Marie

      Teachers are studying up on this and getting better at it very quickly! Many kids are just like yours–very hands on and visual!

  7. Jenni Petrey

    This is brilliant. Both of my children are visual learners and we’re fortunate to have teachers who are very accommodating.

    1. Marie

      There truly are tons of great teachers out there!!! Thank you for sharing, Jenni!

  8. amy

    I love this topic, always gives me a little bit of sense what I need to do and be prepared for. Thanks!

  9. Hannah Marie

    These are wonderful tips to consider. Proven effective and simple to follow. I know many teachers that uses this.

  10. KiwiTheBeauty

    I glad this was broken down properly. Different kids learn different ways we do not all learn the same way.

  11. HolyVeggies

    in my country teachers expect you to be good at everything which I find ridiculous because no one is.

  12. CA

    I know that from a very early age, I am an audio-visual learner. I always have to read my children’s book aloud to fully grasp the stories. But how come I feel like I can actually relate to all the 7 that you have listed?

  13. World In Eyes

    As, I know the seven wonder of the world are famous, same as your seven styles of learning will be famous in teaching methodologies, including verbal, visual, social all the styles seem very good and workable.

  14. Rebecca

    I’m a visual learner and it’s so important to know to optimize your learning experience. Good luck with everything!

  15. Lisa

    I’m not a teacher but this was interesting to read. I never knew about all the different styles before, so it’s good to know the ways in which students learn.

  16. julseliz

    Knowing these seven types of languages is great. But how to apply them to your students is key. I will have to keep these in mind when teaching my toddlers. Great share.

    1. Marie

      You are 100% correct. If you don’t know how to reach your students, it doesn’t matter how perfect your materials are!

  17. Adrienne

    Thanks for sharing this valuable information. It is important to realize that we don’t all learn the same way, nor do our children. That photo brought back memories, we had the Childcraft book set growing up and I LOVED them.

    1. Marie

      I remember the Childcraft books!!! Thanks for the great memory. 🙂

  18. Alissa Ackerman

    Ooh! This goes in so much more depth than i was aware…
    I knew of auditory, visual, and kinesthetic learning–The others are new to me, but it makes perfect sense for them to be included!
    I personally love how different we can all be in how we learn and think… I can imagine it being frustrating for some teachers, but the differences in how each student thinks can bring so much new life into old topics!

    1. Marie

      You are right about all of that, Alissa. Thank you for sharing your thoughts!

  19. I’m so sad to hear about your schooling experience… as a teacher I strive to create differentiated instruction so that all my learners are successful!

    1. Marie

      Your students will appreciate that long after they leave your class. ♥

  20. Kez

    It’s one thing to know about the Theory of Multiple Intelligences, but I find the implementation of it can be terrible. Especially where I live! I always try my best to teach to differentiated styles, but most of the time I’m fighting a losing battle incorporating that with a curriculum that has no wiggle room. It’s sad to see so many kids slipping through the cracks because of the one-program-fits-all-approach with an overarching academic focus.

    1. Marie

      I am so sorry about that. I think a lot of other teachers face the same thing you do. And as frustrating as it is, just letting the kids know your on their side can help at least a little bit. I hope that as research continues, schools everywhere will catch up to what works for students and teachers as well. It really is time to give more control back to teachers.

  21. ashrugh

    When I step into a classroom I do my best to teach lessons that have a little bit of something for all types of learners. I think its important to help kids figure out what type of learners they are as well. I know that it helps with study habits if they know which way will be the most beneficial.

    1. Marie

      I agree with all of that. When a teacher is able to help a student discover their learning strengths, a whole new world emerges. Thank you for sharing your thoughts!

  22. Waren Jean Go

    Thank you for summarizing it! I am a visual learner like most and a bit of verbal too. What I realized these past few years is that I cannot study on my own, I need to have a teacher to help me.

    1. Marie

      A couple of my kids were the same way. It took me a minute to figure that out. But once we got it, life got much easier.

  23. Tessa

    This is so interesting! I know I am someone who has to see things and do something to really get it. I can’t just hear the information, I definitely need to see it. I can imagine if I had understood this better in my younger years I could have put it to use to make college and grad school a little easier too.

  24. This was so informative to read. As a music teacher, I try my best to account for all the different learning styles that may or may not exist in my class, but there were definitely some ideas that came up while reading this! I am looking forward to putting some of this inspiration into practice (hopefully in the near future).

    1. Marie

      That is awesome, Britt. Let me know what new things you try and how they work!

  25. littlemisadvencha

    I am a combination of these styles. I once took a test about my learning style and I came up with this result. 🙂 It’s really improtant to know what our learning style is so that we know how to efficiently digest a lesson. 🙂 i love this!

    1. Marie

      Yes! Most people are a combination of styles. I am just about anything except auditory. And if I have to learn auditorily, I will fail miserably. Unfortunately it has only gotten worse with age!!!

  26. All of these are very important aspects of learning for children. I appreciate you for putting this together it is super helpful especially in these times right now!! My daughter is about to turn 6 and learning at home has become a challenge. I will put these tips to good use.

  27. Priya

    My schooling experience has not been very good either. Everybody was taught on the same level. I just feel my kids are very lucky to have a school where each child is at at their own level. My kids are very good with visuals. They love watching short videos which explain concepts.

    1. Marie

      Isn’t it awesome to see your children live a better life than you? I love being able to see every generation better than the last one. Such huge potential! Thank you for sharing your thoughts, Priya!

  28. SUsan1375

    I enjoy the individual learning style. When teaching I tried to combine as many differing styles as possible into one lesson so no one felt left out

    1. Marie

      I did the same thing, Susan. I wanted to make sure I reached out to every child.

  29. Hannah Marie

    This is nice! Not all people are the same. We all learn on different time and pace.

  30. Ashley K.

    I definitely have always learned best with a mix of physical and visual. I always hated the one-size-fits-all approach to teaching in schools, most of which was verbal in my schools. It sets students up for failure if they can’t learn as well in the ways subjects are being taught.

  31. Sacha

    I didn’t know hardly any of this before. I really appreciate how you broke down the 7 different styles of learning.

  32. I love social learning style, this is very natural but also a very effective way to communicate and grow relationship with the students. This is a very good article I’ll be waiting for the next part of this.

  33. Chei

    Oh this looks like a great way of learning to your students. I am sure this will be very effective. Thanks for sharing. I will share this to my friends.

  34. Kimberly Caines

    These are all good for the students, For sure this will be great for them and they learned in the easiest ways.

  35. Kuntala Bhattacharya

    Love your blog, very informative. It’s helpful now as we are homeschooling our kids even though they have online classes.

  36. Maysz

    Wow this is awesome and very timely especially right now in pandemic this tips would help a lot for teachers !

  37. emidiv24

    These are awesome learning tips and I can say they are truly effective.

  38. Nkem

    What a great post! One of the reasons I am a bit nervous about beginning the new academic year completely online is less opportunity to touch on different learning styles for the various students I’ll be teaching.

  39. tweenselmom

    I didn’t know there were a lot of learning styles we could implement in or daily lives! Personally I think I’m a visual learner, when I see how things work that’s how I come to understand them better.

  40. Ivana Mearns

    How interesting. I think that the verbal styles is most relevant to me.

  41. Autumn Murray

    I can’t believe my children start school in just a few weeks. It will be an interesting school year to say the least. I struggled when my kids were little in trying different learning methods. This article will be helpful for mothers with little ones.

  42. Emily Fata

    Identifying different children’s learning styles is such an important way to cater your teaching methods to them on an individual level. Great idea!!

  43. World in Eyes

    indeed these ideas and tips can be very helpful for every of teacher or parent..these ways are helpful for making education more easier for everyone..glad you shared this with us..great work though..

  44. Monidipa

    All these tips are good but I believe all the students have a different way through which they learn. These all are very helpful for students though!

  45. i think my preference is verbal learning. in English classes, I would recall my teachers having us read aloud. and when i taught i’d have the students read aloud too. it was great since people could read and hear the text.

  46. Heidi

    This is all great information! Thanks for sharing!

  47. Beeb Ashcroft

    Every kid learns differently. It is so important to cater to their needs.

  48. Papa jack

    There are different styles of learning. I am glad that you put this perspective in different adaptability of the students.

  49. blair villanueva

    Thanks for your recommendation. These are very helpful especially we are back to homeschooling for the next 6 weeks with our teens.

  50. Kathy Kenny Ngo

    Knowing the learning style of a person can help you teach the person better and allow the person to learn and adapt faster.

  51. Emman Damian

    I didn’t know that there are Seven Styles of Learning! I get to know more each of them. Great job!

  52. saniya puri

    This is so helpful! I will pass the recommendations to all my friends with kids.

  53. Kiwi

    This school season is making more parents into homeschooled teachers. This is good info.

  54. My Kitchen

    My son is a pre-grader because of covid 19 schools has closed so I am home schooling him,and since he only colors,I use virtual

  55. Gervin Khan

    These are great suggestions and this will definitely help the teachers most especially the students to easily learn and cope with their lessons.

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