Learning Styles


We all have preferences for how we learn best. Are you visual, auditory or kinaesthetic? Put another way, do you like to see what I mean, or prefer to hear my idea or are you someone who likes to experience or feel what is being talked about.

A person’s learning style is a combination of how they perceive, then organise and finally process information. Once you’re familiar with your learning style, you can take action to help yourself learn faster and more easily.

Plus, learning how to decipher the learning styles of others, like your boss, colleagues, teacher and family can help you strengthen your rapport and influence with them. Determining your own personal learning style is a key to improved performance at work, in training and study, and in social situations. Trainers, teachers and educators are (very slowly) realising that everyone has an optimal way of taking in new information and that some students need to be taught in ways that vary from standard teaching methods. Traditional teaching and assessment has always been aimed at visual learners.

Just as some people have a preference for being right or left-handed, we appear to have a preference for the way we sense the world. To decipher your predominant learning style, the first step is to identify your preferred sense – whether you prefer visual, auditory, or kinaesthetic. As these terms suggest, visual people learn through what they see, auditory learners from what they hear, and kinaesthetic learners from movement and touching.

Although each of us learns in all three of these ways to some degree, most people prefer one over the other two. Do you ever catch yourself saying things like “That looks right to me,” or “I get the picture”? Or are you more likely to say, “That sounds right to me,” or “That rings a bell”? Or “I like the feel of that,” or “I grasp it now”? Expressions like these may be clues to your preferred modality.

If you couldn’t see or hear, or if you couldn’t feel texture, shape, temperature, weight, or resistance in your environment, you would literally have no way of learning. Most of us learn in many ways, yet we usually favour one modality over the others. Many people don’t realise they are favouring one way, because nothing external tells them they are any different from anyone else. Knowing that there are differences goes a long way towards explaining why we have problems understanding and communicating with some people and not with others, and why we handle some situations more easily than others.

So how do you discover your own preferred modality? One simple way is to listen for clues in your speech, as in the expressions above. Another way is to notice your behaviour when you attend a seminar or workshop. Do you seem to get more from reading the handout or from listening to the presenter? Auditory people prefer listening to the material and sometimes get lost if they try to take notes on the subject during the presentation. Visual people prefer to read the handouts and look at the slides the presenter shows. Visual people also take excellent notes. Kinaesthetic learners do best with “hands on” activities and group interaction.

The bad news regarding learning styles is that school and college are easier for people who score highest on the “visual” learning style preference. So if you are predominantly auditory or kinaesthetic, you may be at an initial disadvantage. It’s not that visual learners are smarter, it’s just that they think in a certain way that matches up perfectly with how schools and examining boards around the world test.  They test in the written form – usually 1, 2 or even 3 hour written examinations.

Visual learners think in pictures, so it makes it easier for them to learn and remember new information. For everything they read, it’s as if they were watching TV or movies in their heads. There is an old saying – one picture is worth a thousand words.  So, when visual learners want to remember what they have learned, they replay that movie in their mind that they already made while they were studying.

By now, you’re probably asking, so what about me?  “Is there an easy way for me to get higher grades if I my learning style preference is more auditory or more kinaesthetic”?

Yes, there is! And you’ll have to do it because until we come up with a better way to find out what you have learned in school, then written tests are going to be around for a very long time.

So, the tip is to learn how to add some visual thinking strategies to the learning style you already have. That then gives you even more learning abilities.

Those who are having the easiest time with their study think in pictures, and the way you can do that is to pretend that you’re going to turn everything you read or hear in the classroom or from a textbook into a movie in your mind.

You know how you look up at the movie screen when you’re at the movies – well, if you do the same thing in the classroom to get more “visual”, then school or college will get a whole lot easier.

If you’re really serious about wanting better grades, then give it a try.

This has been a very brief introduction to this important and exciting area.

Author: Lisabeth Protherough

Copyright 2006 Lisabeth Protherough

Lisabeth Protherough is a qualified Chartered Accountant and Education Consultant from the UK, with 20 years experience training and teaching students in the university and business sectors. She heads up Student Success Solutions a global organisation offering educational advice to students around the world. She is passionate about great education and the life changing impact it can have. Lisabeth is on a mission to make education interesting and to help students unlock their potential.


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Essential Skills for Creating A Dynamite Relationship with Your Boss


By: Gail Solish

At some point in our lives most of us will be working for someone else, so it is important to fully understand what makes our boss tick and how best to interact and influence him or her. How much attention have you given to your boss’s personality style? How does she function? What seems to agitate or please her? If we have a difficult boss we focus on what drives us crazy. If we have a great boss we tend to take things for granted. Recognizing the factors which contribute to creating the most successful, powerful working relationship is a skill to be utilized throughout one’s career.

One of the ways to do this is by identifying your boss’s personality type. Let’s look at a few examples. Jo’s boss is extroverted, high energy, with lots of ideas which he makes happen. He tends to move quickly and rarely acknowledges the good work his staff does. He assumes they know he appreciates and values them. Bill’s boss is hard working and organized but tends to micromanage her staff. Bill worries that his boss does not trust him to do his job and therefore would not recommend him for a promotion. These are two different kinds of bosses, with different personality types. What does this mean for their colleagues and staff?

According to Mike Lillibridge who is one of the creators of the PeoplemapTM Personality Types, there are four Personality Types: Leader, People, Free Spirit and Task. Generally most people are a combination of two. The clearer you are on what type your boss is, as well as your type, the more capable you become in understanding how he functions, what are the strengths and weaknesses and how you can achieve the best results in working together.

Leader types are results oriented. They see the big picture and want to make it happen. They describe themselves as being assertive, honest, face problems directly and are willing to make hard decisions. Further, they admit to at times being impatient with others and often forget the importance of complimenting and acknowledging others.

People types are relationship oriented. They seek out others, enjoy working collaboratively, tend to be great communicators and listeners and enjoy helping others. They describe themselves as being social, caring, tend to seek approval and avoid conflict. This can lead to them having difficulty making decisions which others may not like.

The Free Spirit personality seeks adventure and excitement. They are risk takers and think outside the box. They tend to be great at problem solving, very creative and operate well in crises, but have difficulty with details and follow through. Hard handed authority does not work well with them and they are often easily distracted and bored by mundane tasks.

The last personality type is the Task type. They love work and organize themselves and others through having concrete plans and systems to manage all situations. They are good detail people and thrive on predictability. Their downfall is that they can be demanding of themselves and others in terms of expecting perfection and have great difficulty adjusting to change.

As you review these personality types, it will probably be fairly obvious to you which ones best describe you. Remember, generally we have qualities of at least two. Now think about your boss and which types best describe him/her. Is it similar or different from you?

Let’s return to our two examples. Jo’s boss is a Leader, Free spirit, while Jo is a People, Task. They are quite opposite, but at the same compliment each other’s strengths and weaknesses. The clearer Jo becomes in recognizing her boss’s personality style, the less upset she is with his “way of doing things”. She begins to value and learn from him and develops the comfort to make suggestions which will be helpful to him, such as acknowledging his staff more directly.

Bill’s boss is Task, Leader type, while Bill is People, Task type. Since they both are Task, they tend to focus on the detail and feel better when they know everything is taken care of. When Bill understands that his Boss is similar to him, then he is able to recognize that she does trust him, but becomes preoccupied with the details, just like him. He is able to use his people skills to develop a more collaborative relationship with her.

Understanding your boss’s personality as well as your own, creates a more effective and positive working relationship. When you come from a position of wanting to work well together, even when there are differences, it leads to a win-win situation. If you are interested in learning more about the PeoplemapTM personality assessment and how to use it in creating the most productive and favorable workplace, please contact me.

Copyright 2007, Gail Solish.

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Gail Solish, provides Executive/Personal coaching to managers, directors and executives focused on workplace development and relationship management. Claim your FR-EE e-course “Unleash Your Potential and Increase Productivity and Fulfillment” at www.ActualizeYourGoals.com

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