What are Learning Styles?
As learners, we are all wired differently. The way we learn is a product of our genetics, our personalities, and our earliest learning experiences. By the time we are adults, we process information in very unique ways. These types of styles can variously affect your online learning. Learning styles include, visual learners, auditory learners, physical learners, verbal learner, logical learner, social learner as well as multi-faceted learner and reflective learner.
This quiz might help you identify your learning style and your cooperative learning type. In response to the blue questions, select the answer (1 through 5) that best represents your habits and tendencies. If you feel that two or more of the answers (1 through 5) are equally representative, you may select more than one answer. In response to the red questions, select either an X or a Y. Keep track of your answers on a separate sheet of paper.
As a kid, you spent most of your free time:
- Drawing, coloring, or watching TV
- Listening to music or talking on the phone
- Reading or writing stories/poetry/letters
- Participating in sports, building forts, taking toys apart, exploring the neighborhood
- Playing card games, board games or computer games
x.) You did this activity with siblings and/or neighborhood friends
y.) You did this activity by yourself, or with one close friend
In the age before GPS navigation and Google Maps, you were most likely to give driving directions by:
- Sketching a map of the necessary roads and landmarks
- Repeating the directions aloud, until the other person seemed to remember them
- Writing the directions in full sentences
- Making gestures with your hands, or tracing roads on the flat of your palm
- Creating a numbered list of sequential instructions
x.) It was also helpful if the driver could tell you which parts of the route he already knew
y.) It was easier if the driver didn’t interrupt you while you were explaining
If you wanted to lose weight, your first step would be to:
- Remove junk food from your cabinets; place fruit, veggies and water in visible places
- Create a playlist of upbeat songs, and crank your MP3 player for aerobic motivation
- Buy a book about diet and exercise; start keeping a food diary
- Start exercising right away – just get out there and do it
- Start counting your daily calories and measure your serving sizes
x.) Once you started losing weight, you’d continue your efforts with a gym class or a walking club.
y.) Once you started losing weight, you’d continue on your own, until you reached your goal.
For you, the easiest math unit to learn was:
- Pie charts and bar graphs – all the information is right there in front of you.
- Multiplication tables, which you learned to memorize by repeating the drills out loud.
- Word problems – algebra is easier to understand if it’s explained through a story, where letters represent the different variables.
- Counting actual money – you understand fractions and percentages as they relate to real life dollars.
- Everything about math is easier than other subjects, because there’s only one correct answer.
x.) When math gets confusing, it helps to hear the concept explained by different people in a study group.
y.) When math gets confusing, it helps to isolate exactly where you’re getting lost, and work on this point with a tutor.
When you have to organize a project at work, or plan a party with a group of people, it’s easiest for you to:
- Create a spreadsheet, and assign the tasks under different colored columns – one for each participant.
- Organize a conference call, and listen to everyone’s perspective.
- Draft an email to all the participants, read their replies, and then outline their suggestions in a follow- up email.
- Start working on the tasks yourself, and then contact others when you run into roadblocks.
- Prioritize your to-do list, and then delegate items based on people’s talents or preferences.
x.) Ideally, everyone involved would bring their ideas to the table.
y.) Ideally, everyone involved would agree with your vision.
If you had to learn a new computer program, you would prefer to learn by:
- Watching a YouTube video or downloading a live demonstration.
- Calling a friend who understands computers, and asking her to walk you through the process.
- Buying a guidebook, like “ ____ for Dummies.”
- Tinkering with the program until it started to make sense.
- It would depend on how quickly to needed to learn, and which aspects of the program you needed to use.
x.) You love FaceBook, Twitter, and fun email forwards.
y.) Usually you prefer to ignore social networking invites and updates.
When you’re asked to attend a meeting or a conference, you
- Focus on the PowerPoint slides that are being presented.
- Focus on the speaker’s use of language. If the concept is very abstract or hard to understand, you might even close your eyes while you try to process the explanation.
- Take diligent notes. You always remember things better when you’ve translated them into your own words.
- Usually feel antsy and bored. Even when you try to pay attention, the words become a blur.
- Study the conference agenda beforehand.
x.) During the question and answer portion, you almost always ask a question.
y.) During the question and answer portion, you don’t like asking questions because you haven’t had time to process the information on your own yet.
Imagine that you are in a contest. You are given a box that contains 20 unfamiliar pieces. With them, you’re asked to build a small gadget in less than 20 minutes. Which of the following bonus tools would be most helpful to you?
- A photograph of what the completed gadget is supposed to look like
- One question that you can ask the designer
- The official names and functions of all the working pieces
- An extra 10 minutes
- The first and last step of the process
x.)This would be a frustrating challenge if you had to work alone.
y.)This would be a frustrating challenging if you had to complete it with a team.
People most often compliment or notice:
- Your fashion sense; the way you decorate your home
- Your ability to be a good listener; your ability to impersonate other people; your musical talent
- Your witty emails, texts or tweets; your ability to tell a good story
- Your handiness – around the house, the yard, with your car; your high energy level
- Your organizational skills; your punctuality
x.) You share your ideas as soon as you possibly can.
y.) You tend to save your ideas, while first perfecting them in private.
What’s the first thing that comes to mind when you think of The Wizard of Oz? (Don’t peek at the answers below. Close your eyes and think of something first!)
- The ruby slippers, the yellow brick road, Emerald City, the melting witch
- Any of the songs
- “There’s no place like home.”
- Nothing really, because you never sat through that entire movie.
- The scarecrow, the tin man, and the lion
x.) You like reading movie reviews.
y.) You tend to disregard movie reviews.
When you vote for a political candidate, your decision is usually most influenced by:
- Television interviews with the candidate
- Candidate speeches or radio talk shows
- News articles and candidate websites
- Live debates or rallies
- You usually vote for the candidate who shares your political philosophies and social agendas
Results for Questions
Mostly 1’s = Visual Learner
If the majority of your answers were A’s, you might be a visual learner. You’re most likely to absorb information that is contained in a photograph, a diagram, or an illustration. You can appreciate a lesson that is delivered through words, but unless the instructor provides some kind of visual aid, you will probably have trouble grasping the concept – or retaining it for very long.
Knowing this, you can boost your learning power by creating your own visual aids, whenever one is missing. Sometimes the process of creating a diagram, and filling in the information, is a powerful learning mechanism for visual learners.
Online classes are conducive to visual learners because all the material is available on your computer screen, or via attachments, which you can print onto paper. At the same time, your instructor and your classmates are not always visible. If you’re predominantly a social learner (see your X and Y results below), you may find this “facelessness” distracting. Investigate online options that involve video stream lectures. Ask your classmates about setting up a class Flickr site, or creating Skype sessions for study groups.
Mostly 2’s = Auditory Learner
If the majority of your answers were B’s, you might be an aural or auditory learner. You’re most likely to absorb information that you hear – especially if it corresponds with musical notes or predictable rhythms. You easily retain song lyrics and product jingles. You can sing on key and mimic different accents Repeating an idea out loud is very helpful to you.
In the past, you may have had success with pneumonic devices (remember: righty tighty, lefty loosey? This expression has a catchy sound that helps people to remember the direction of threads on a nut or a bolt.) You can often use tools like this to prompt your auditory abilities – particularly in classes where you’re required to remember a process, or a long list of terms.
Some online classes can alienate auditory learners. Too many visual lessons and solitary assignments might leave you feeling disengaged. To prevent this, opt for courses that involve an audio element – like regular podcasts. If you can’t find a course like this in your program, ask your instructor to recommend a few narrated resources on the subject you’re studying. The Internet is overflowing with information, in all different formats. Find one that speaks to you – literally.
Mostly 3’s = Verbal Learner
If the majority of your answers were C’s, you might be a verbal, or a word-oriented, learner. You enjoy learning new vocabulary words, you appreciate puns and riddles, and there’s a good chance you collect books/own a Kindle. You’re most likely to absorb information that you read or write. You excel at drawing relationships between language and ideas. And since this same relationship applies to lectures, auditory learning isn’t a far stretch for you either.
Many verbal learners run into trouble when they try to tackle a highly technical subject. Because they’ve always relied on their ability to read, comprehend, and summarize, they may get frustrated in a class that revolves around demonstrations or technical, moving parts. IT courses, engineering courses, and accounting courses may be especially difficult.
If you’re a verbal learner, and you’re struggling with a technical online class, push yourself to turn the tech speak into fluid language. Write your own summaries of what you’re learning. Try writing emails, to people outside of your class, in which you explain the topic. As you write, you’ll discover where your brain is disconnecting. From there, you can go back to your instructor, and ask for more specific guidance.
Mostly 4’s = Physical Learner
If the majority of your answers were D’s, you might be a physical learner. Physical learners are also called kinesthetic learners or tactile learners. Basically, this means you are a hands-on student. You retain more information when you are allowed to experiment – or just get up and move around. Your attention starts to wander if you’re forced into a captive learning environment.
Luckily, online courses are anything but captive learning environments. Thanks to asynchronous courses, you can pause your lessons, and take breaks as you need them. If you’re confused, you can go back and revisit the concept being introduced. And unlike classroom learning, you don’t have to feel embarrassed that you’re delaying the entire class.
Still, unless you enroll in a hybrid program (with some campus courses and some online courses), you won’t get a chance to work in a lab, or to physically interact with your classmates. Instead, you’ll have to conduct your own experiments. Ask your instructor to supply some active homework assignments – practical extensions of the concepts you are learning. And keep your interest piqued by completing regular exercises, even if they’re not assigned.
Physical learners love sites like Sporcle.com, which contains hundreds of interactive quizzes. Select your subject – whether it’s science, history, or geography – and start clicking!
Mostly 5’s = Logical Learner
If the majority of your answers were E’s, you might be a logical, or sequential, learner. You have a knack for recognizing patterns, understanding categories, and completing computations. Order and hierarchy are important to you. When you’re given an assignment, you tend to plan your strategy before getting your hands dirty. And you’re often wondering: what’s the point of this?
Online classes might be great for logical learners because they’re designed to function sequentially. Many online schools develop their degrees so that students can progress from one course to the next. This is different from many traditional degree programs, wherein course order is somewhat arbitrary, and long semester breaks separate one term from the next.
On the other hand, logical learners may struggle with the kinds of “check-in” exercises some online classes require. As a logical learner, you may resist mandatory posts, participation in a class wiki, or anything else that seems to lack an immediate purpose. In this regard, your logic is your own worst enemy.
If you find yourself feeling frustrated or dreading your homework, contact your professor. Don’t expect that he or she will change the class or its underlying principles, but do expect to gain some insight.
Lots of Different Numbers = Multi-Faceted Learner
You might have an equal number of different letters. This is a good thing. Even in elementary school, your teachers were helping you to develop a range of learning capacities – through songs, storybooks, flashcards and basic reading. Most people exercise a combination of learning styles, and this could help them to succeed in varied environments.
If you’re a multi-faceted learner, take note of which learning style(s) you rarely access. If you have a low number of C’s, for example, reading and writing are your weak points. When you come across a class that requires the use of your weaker capacities, find ways to integrate your strong suits.
Results for Red Questions
Mostly X’s = Social Learner
If the majority of your second-tier answers were X’s, you’re probably a social learner. You’ve developed a communicative learning style, which means that talking and interacting help you retain information. In a class setting, you’re not overwhelmed by multiple perspectives. Instead, you thrive off group interplay and collaboration.
Social learners are ideally suited to online education. Better still, social learners are often the kind that today’s employers need. As business continues to globalize, employees are called on to partner with new associates, design multi-faceted approaches, and to learn on the fly. The whole world is going “social.” Lucky for you, you’re already there!
Mostly Y’s = Reflective Learner
If the majority of your second-tier answers were Y’s, you’re probably a reflective learner – otherwise known as a solitary learner. You prefer working quietly on your own. You understand new concepts only after you’re left alone to process and explore them. You may have some perfectionist tendencies, and you may struggle with group projects that require you to accept input from others.
The best medicine for a solitary learner? Try a social networking platform – like Facebook or Twitter. Create an account that’s geared towards your academic interests (not just traditional socializing). You’ll learn to follow multiple threads, and to integrate new ideas or sources of information into your usual dialogue. More importantly, you’ll learn how to leverage a network of people, and how to process incoming data in a group context.