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Learning Styles

Teaching Resources


The Seven Perceptual Learning Styles

  1. Visual learners like to observe people and situations.  A visual learner often has to see something, not just hear it, to learn.  Slides, pictures, demonstrations, graphs, tables, and overhead transparencies are useful ways of helping these people learn best.  Research indicates that most people in their twenties and over the age of fifty use this perceptual style as their primary way of learning material.
  1. Interactive Learners learn best when verbalizing their thoughts and feelings.  Small-group discussions, lively question-and-answer sessions, and debates are techniques that engage this type of learner.  People over the age of fifty ranked this style of learning as second in terms of preference, and younger learners ranked it as third.  Programs which place an emphasis on small-group learning are very successful.
  1.  Haptic Learners learn best through their sense of touch.  They need to feel objects or to touch as many things as possible to learn something about them.  By touching an object, these people often are able to form a visual image of it.  “Hands on” experience is essential for them to learn.  People who combine haptic and visual elements of perception learn best through demonstrations that are followed by hands-on practice.
  1. Aural Learners learn best by listening.  In fact, unless they combine this way of taking in information with an interactive mode, these learners often are annoyed by interruptions to a lecture.  In general, aural learners like to listen carefully, rarely speak out during a lecture, and easily remember what they hear.  People who listen to audiotapes of popular speakers or books are probably aural learners.
  1. Kinesthetic Learners need to move in order to learn.  You might find such people fidgeting, knitting, doodling, or wood carving during a lecture.  Instead of distracting them, movement actually helps this type of person to concentrate.  When they speak, kinesthetically oriented people often use hand motions to describe what they are saying.  This kind of learner would probably volunteer to take part in a role-playing activity because it involves movement.
  1. Print-oriented Learners often learn best by reading and writing.  Reading books, magazines, or journal articles helps these learners to easily retain information.  When print types attend a lecture, you often find them jotting down notes. Being able to see and record what they hear helps them focus and learn better.
  1. Olfactory Learners use their sense of smell or taste to learn.  These are the people who associate what they learn with particular smells or tastes.  They might walk into a room and smell an odor that immediately reminds them of a past learning experience.  Recent research on the brain indicates that smell originates in the most primitive part of the brain and is, therefore, a powerful reminder of people or past events.

James, Wawyne B., and Galbraith, Michael W. "Perceptual Learning Styles: Implications and Techniques for the Practioner." Lifelong Learning, 1985. 20-23.


Kolb's Learning Style Descriptors




(Dynamic Learner)

gets involved

good at taking risks

trial and error

uses others for ideas



variety, flexibility


asks “What can this become?”




(Innovative Learner)



sees things from many angles

good at generating ideas

likes identifying problems


emotional, social

cultural interests

asks, “Why? Why not?





(Common Sense Learner)



uses facts to build ideas

good at making decisions

likes a single, correct answer

problem solver

likes working with things


asks, “How does it work?”




(Analytic Learner)


collects information

looks for explanations

industrious and thorough

likes to know what experts think observer

likes working with data

likes traditional classrooms

asks, “What is it?”

Kolb, David A. Learning Style Inventory.  McBer and Company: Boston, MA, 1995.