How We Learn

How We Learn

How We Learn

Learning styles has become a somewhat contentious term used to describe the attitudes and behaviours, which ‘may’ determine an individual's preferred way of learning. It is the ‘may’ that draws attention as it is often omitted and hence the concept becomes a deterministic approach to catagorising how learners engage with information, their peers, educators and opportunities to learn. Suffice to say it is also an area where so many learning styles / preference models exist, that the marketplace is truly over-crowded (a citation search revealed over 150 articles espousing models), so where does one look to…? And how may we use them to our benefit?

If we merely take note of the range of styles and/or preferences available, we may begin to address a number of key issues that impact student interaction. The idea of learner malaise, lack of motivation, misinterpretation is not down to recalcitrant individuals alone. By adapting the way in which we teach and provide learning opportunities to reflect the potential ‘learning styles’ apparent in any cohort, we may begin to offer an open and engaging process that is directed to their (the learners) preferred style / method of interaction and engagement.

The following three tables elaborate the details of their respective models (Rose, Honey & Mumford and Gardener) and the interpretatation of the implied learning styles on the individual.

Rose 1985
Visual: Learners prefer to learn with visual reinforcement such as charts and diagrams
Auditory: Learners prefer to learn by listening
Kinaesthetic: Learners prefer to learn through, moving, doing and touching
Honey and Mumford 1996
Theoretical: Learners prefer to learn by reading and listening to the experts
Pragmatic: Learners like to be able to see the practical application of theory. They like to use deductive reasoning to focus on problems and they prefer situations where there is a single correct answer or solution
Reflective: Learners tend to be imaginative and emotional. They work well in group discussions
Activist: Learners are action oriented. They learn by doing
Gardener 1993
Visual/Spatial Intelligence: Puzzle building, reading, writing, understanding charts and graphs, a good sense of direction, sketching, painting, creating visual metaphors and analogies (perhaps through the visual arts), manipulating images, constructing, fixing, designing practical objects, interpreting visual images.
Verbal/Linguistic Intelligence: Listening, speaking, writing, story telling, explaining, teaching, using humour, understanding the syntax and meaning of words, remembering information, convincing someone of their point of view, analysing language usage.
Logical/Mathematical Intelligence: Problem solving, classifying and categorising information, working with abstract concepts to figure out the relationship of each to the other, handling long chains of reason to make local progressions, doing controlled experiments, questioning and wondering about natural events, performing complex mathematical calculations, working with geometric shapes.
Bodily/Kinaesthetic Intelligence: Dancing, physical co-ordination, sports, hands on experimentation, using body language, crafts, acting, miming, using their hands to create or build, expressing emotions through the body.
Musical/Rhythmic Intelligence: Singing, whistling, playing musical instruments, recognising tonal patterns, composing music, remembering melodies, understanding the structure and rhythm of music.
Interpersonal Intelligence: Seeing things from other perspectives (dual-perspective), listening, using empathy, understanding other people's moods and feelings, counselling, co-operating with groups, noticing people's moods, motivations and intentions, communicating both verbally and non-verbally, building trust, peaceful conflict resolution, establishing positive relations with other people.
Intrapersonal Intelligence: Recognising their own strengths and weaknesses, reflecting and analysing themselves, awareness of their inner feelings, desires and dreams, evaluating their thinking patterns, reasoning with themselves, understanding their role in relationship to others.


Take a moment to undertake one of the following online tests to assess your preferred ‘learning style’, are they applicable?

Homework, try another test and compare the two findings




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