Your Personal Learning Style

Discussion with my department on how to identify, appreciate and leverage their unique learning styles.

Previously, I have talked about personality types and how we should appreciate and embrace the unique value in those that have personalities different than our own.  This is because they bring vital attributes to contribute to a team that are different than what we bring.  Similarly, we will further excel, as individuals, and in working with others if we understand differences in learning styles.

Understanding Your Personal Learning Style
Learning styles are a combination of an individual’s preferred learning modality and learning type – or the way one physically processes and deals with information.  The better we understand learning styles (modalities and types) in general, and more specifically, what our learning style is, the better we can set ourselves up with the ideal conditions for learning, and know that we will need to adapt, when those conditions are not possible

Every person – young or old – has a preferred learning style. Your learning style influences both the way you learn and the way you interact with other people. As an adult you have likely learned over the years to adapt your learning style, at least to some degree, to better facilitate personal interaction, communication, and instruction that are not presented in your preferred modality.

3 Primary Learning Modalities Every Person Uses
Learning modalities are the ways in which we physically take in, process and remember information.  Learning modalities include:
·         Visual
·         Auditory
·         Kinesthetic

All people start out as kinesthetic learners. Babies explore the world through touching and tasting their world. Children typically become more visual and auditory learners as they grow older and throughout their school years – learning by what we see and hear in addition to what we are physically able to touch.

"Children enter kindergarten as kinesthetic and tactual learners, moving and touching everything as they learn. By second or third grade, some students have become visual learners. During the late elementary years some students, primarily females, become auditory learners. Yet, many adults, especially males, maintain kinesthetic and tactual strengths throughout their lives."

Even as we learn to utilize multiple learning modalities in our daily lives, most people favor one predominant, or preferred, learning modality.

Visual (65% of adults):  Visual learners need to read, see, watch and observe information – their eyes are the key to learning.

Visual learners prefer pictures, graphs, charts, and diagrams to make sense of information. They prefer to read the text themselves, rather than have it read out loud to them. Visual learners spend time reading information, examining pictures, illustrating ideas and taking notes. And visual learners benefit from assignment notebooks, to-do lists and calendars.

Auditory (30% of adults):  Auditory learners need to hear information – their ears are the key to learning.

Auditory learners prefer sound and verbalization, even if it is listening to themselves talk out loud. Auditory learners often use talking aloud to work through problems verbally. Auditory learners excel when a traditional auditory teaching approach such as lecturing is used. Auditory learners benefit from reading information and directions out loud, varying voice tone and voice inflection, and assignments requiring speeches and other oral presentations.

Kinesthetic (5% of adults):  Kinesthetic learners need to interact with information – their hands and bodies are the key to learning.

Kinesthetic learners prefer doing, touching and direct involvement. Kinesthetic learners have a difficult time sitting still for long periods of time. Kinesthetic learners enjoy exploring the concepts and information they need to learn.

Remember, although most adults are not kinesthetic learners, all young children start out as kinesthetic learners.

4 Foundational Types of Learners
Learner types can be considered a more of a learning "personality" than a learning style. Learning type involves organizational style, personality, and ways of dealing with information rather than how individuals process information.

Concrete Sequential:
Concrete sequential learners tend to be very straight-forward and down to earth in their approach to life. Concrete sequential individuals are particularly good at working systematically, establishing routines and processes, being in tune with expectations, paying close attention to details and following a schedule or plan.

Concrete sequential learners are typically:
·         organized
·         factual
·         practical
·         task-oriented
·         predictable
·         orderly
·         thorough
·         detailed

Conversely, concrete sequential people often struggle with:
·         casual discussion
·         working in groups
·         functioning in a disorganized environment
·         making sense of abstract ideas
·         using their imagination and questions that don’t require a black and white answer

Abstract Sequential:
Abstract sequential learners are naturally very objective and like to debate. Abstract sequential individuals are very good at gathering data, analyzing ideas, analyzing information and research.

Abstract sequential learners are typically:
·         logical
·         scholarly
·         analytical
·         rational
·         theoretical
·         academic
·         argumentative

Conversely, concrete sequential people often struggle with:
·         sharing emotions
·         being sentimental
·         being diplomatic
·         allowing others time to speak
·         repetition
·         rules
·         time constraints

Abstract Random:
Abstract random learners naturally attract other people because of their strong interpersonal skills. Abstract random individuals are very good at listening to others, paying attention to emotions, conflict resolution, building rapport, and focusing on themes.

Abstract sequential learners are typically:
·         imaginative
·         thematic
·         colorful
·         flexible
·         empathetic
·         emotional
·         interpretive
·         very sensitive

Conversely, abstract sequential people often struggle with:
·         having to explain themselves
·         remaining focused on one thing
·         dealing with criticism
·         providing details
·         unfriendly people
·         competition

Concrete Random:
Concrete random learners are good at thinking fast on their feet, being accepting of others, discovering creative ways to solve problems and complete tasks, thinking outside of the box, identifying options and solutions, and providing inspiration to others. Concrete random individuals are driven to learn more, know more and take risks.

Concrete random learners are typically:
·         daring
·         divergent
·         original
·         independent
·         curious
·         intuitive
·         investigative

Conversely, concrete random people often struggle with:
·         restrictions and limitations
·         routines
·         having no options
·         re-doing work
·         formal reports
·         explaining how they got an answer


Learning modalities include:
·         Visual – learning by seeing
·         Auditory – learning by hearing
·         Kinesthetic – learning by touching or doing

Learning types include:
·         Concrete Sequential – organized, practical, orderly, and detailed
·         Abstract Sequential – logical, rational, academic and argumentative
·         Abstract Random – imaginative, flexible, interpretive and sensitive
·         Concrete Random – daring, independent, intuitive and investigative
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