Learning Styles

Knowing your learning style and adapting your study habits can make a substantial difference in how well you do in classes.

The following information consists of five different areas that describe individual learning styles. In each group, read the descriptions that help you determine which of the two styles you use more. Then below each group, look at the strategies listed that will help you learn more effectively.

If you are unsure about your learning styles after reading this information, come by The Learning Center, where we can provide you with a short questionnaire that will help you determine your strengths in learning.

Part One: Auditory or Visual Learners

This indicates the sensory mode you prefer when processing information. Auditory learners tend to learn more effectively through listening, while visual learners process information by seeing it in print or other visual modes including film, picture or diagram.

Auditory strategies:

  • Record lectures
  • Record review notes
  • Discuss/study with a friend
  • Talk aloud when studying
  • Record self-test questions/answers

Visual strategies:

  • Draw diagrams, charts, maps
  • Use mind-mapping
  • Use visualization
  • Use films or DVDs when available
  • Use computer-assisted instruction

Part Two: Applied or Conceptual Learners

This describes the types of learning tasks and learning situations you prefer and find most easy to handle. If you are an applied learner, you prefer tasks that involve real objects and situations. Practical, real-life learning situations are ideal for you. If you are a conceptual learner, you prefer to work with language and ideas; practical applications are not necessary for understanding.

Applied strategies:

  • Think of practical situations in which the material you are learning applies
  • Associate ideas with applications
  • Take classes with lab or practicum
  • Use case studies, examples and applications to cue your learning

 Conceptual strategies:

  • Organize materials that lack order
  • Use outlining
  • Focus on organizational patterns

Part Three: Spatial or Non-Spatial Learners

This reveals your ability to work with spatial relationships. Spatial learners are able to visualize or "mentally see" how things work or how they are positioned in space. Their strengths may include drawing, assembling things or repairing. Non-spatial learners lack skills in positioning things in space. Instead, they tend to rely on verbal or language skills.

Spatial strategies:

  • Mapping
  • Use outlining
  • Draw diagrams, make charts and sketches
  • Use visualization

Non-spatial strategies:

  • Translate diagrams and drawings into language
  • Record steps, processes and procedures in words
  • Write summaries
  • Write your interpretation next to textbook drawings, maps and graphics

Part Four: Social or Independent Learners

This reveals your preferred level of interaction with other people in the learning process. If you are a social learner, you prefer to work with others—both peers and instructors—closely and directly. You tend to be people-oriented and enjoy personal interaction. If you are an independent learner, you prefer to work and study alone. You tend to be self-directed or self-motivated and are often goal-oriented.

Social strategies:

  • Form study groups
  • Find a study partner
  • Interact with your instructors
  • Work with a tutor
  • Take classes with class discussion format

Independent strategies:

  • Use computer-assisted instruction
  • Consider independent study courses
  • Enroll in courses using traditional lecture-exam format
  • Buy review books, study guides
  • Use self-testing

Part Five: Creative or Pragmatic Learners

This describes the approach you prefer to take toward learning tasks. Creative learners are imaginative and innovative. They prefer to learn through discovery or experimentation. They are comfortable taking risks and following hunches. Pragmatic learners are practical, logical and systematic. They seek order and are comfortable following rules.

Creative strategies:

  • Ask questions about the chapter content and answer them
  • Use annotation to record impressions and reactions
  • Take courses that involve exploration, experimentation or discussion

Pragmatic strategies:

  • Write summaries and outlines
  • Write lists of steps, processes, procedures
  • Paraphrase difficult material
  • Use the SQ3R method in reading/studying
  • Focus on problem-solving, logical sequence
  • Use a structured study environment.


Email The Learning Center (learningcenter@grace.edu) or call 574-372-5100, ext. 6421.