All You Need to Know About Learning Modalities

In this blog post, you will learn everything there is to know about the four learning modalities: visual, auditory, tactile and kinesthetic.

At the end of the article, you can take a test to find your own learning style!

What are learning modalities?

Each one of us has the ability to learn in different ways.

We assimilate new information either through active participation or through listening or looking.

In fact, we are born with a certain learning style that accompanies us from the first hours of our life.

The most important thing is to be aware of our own learning style so that we can more easily assimilate new information.

Identifying learning modalities can be done by observing and analyzing our own learning experiences, applying specific questionnaires, or by discussing with a psycho-pedagogical professional.

The benefits of knowing your learning style include:

  • Development of self-knowledge
  • Eliminating most of the learning obstacles
  • Improving self-esteem
  • Getting higher grades in exams
  • Developing positive relationships with those around you

We differentiate learning modalities according to

  •  the genetic component (there are four main learning styles: auditory, visual, tactile and kinesthetic)
  • Or according to our predominant cerebral hemisphere (learning is differentiated into two cognitive styles: global style (the right cerebral hemisphere is dominant) and analytical style (left dominance).

Next, we will discuss all the learning modalities mentioned above.

Visual learning style

Students with a visual learning style can more easily remember what they read or observe.

They can even close their eyes and remember what they just read or saw in the book or on the blackboard.

Students with this learning style will work very well with:

– maps, mental maps

– images as colourful and expressive as possible

– posters

– video images

– photos

For these students it is important to see the written text; they learn faster information that is based on illustrations, maps, images, diagrams; Rereading / rewriting the material helps them fix the information.

Tips for children with a visual learning style

  • Read as much as you can. Do not listen to texts, but try to work based on printed materials. 
  • Write down the information using different colours, schemes, diagrams and illustrations
  • Look at the shape of a word
  • Highlight your keywords
  • Make mental maps, diagrams.
  • Do not hesitate to use images to illustrate abstract structures.

Auditory learning style

Students with auditory learning style can learn better by listening to verbal instructions, such as explanations, discussions or audio materials, preferring to rely on sounds.

  • They learn from the teacher’s explanations;
  • Verbalize the action taken to learn;
  • Like to be part of group discussions.

 Students with this learning style will work very well with:

  •  verbal instructions
  • Explanations
  • songs and poems
  • oral answers

Tips for children with auditory learning style

  • Listen carefully to the teacher’s explanations
  • Discuss ideas and problems with a study buddy
  • Get involved in listening exercises, then solve exercises based on the texts heard
  • Listen to a recorded text, rather than read it
  • Pronounce the words in your mind
  • Read aloud
  • Record your observations and thoughts in a diary
  • Repeat the main ideas using your own voice, with your favourite music in the background
  • Use methods of active listening and summarize what you heard
  • Attend debates and talks
  • Listen to a person who explains a certain thing
  • Discuss new ideas, problems and explain them in your own words
  • Analyze your thoughts and ideas

Tactile learning style

Students with a tactile learning style can emphasize their main ideas as they read them and take notes while listening.

In most cases, the writing activity is sufficient for the act of learning to take place.

Students with this learning style will work very well in:

  • manual work activities
  • drawing and painting
  • construction games
  • making models

It helps students with tactile learning style to be allowed to feel and touch objects so that they can internalize new information.

They need to be physically involved in the learning activity and oftentimes express themselves using a lot of hand movement and nonverbal communication. 

Kinesthetic learning style

These students learn best using real-life experiences that are often needed to retain learning material.

They learn best when they are fully involved in an activity.

Students with this learning style will work very well in:

– activities that involve movement

– various types of games

– experiments

Children with a kinesthetic learning style are always on the move, and parents and teachers should take this into account.

Studies show that teaching methods that match students’ learning styles can significantly improve their academic performance.

These types of students learn better from the situations in which they can experiment.

The lack of activity causes agitation and they are often being labelled as a child with behavioural disorders.

Tips for children with kinesthetic and tactile learning style

  • Engage in experiments
  • Choose exercises for movement, dance, role-play, mime, through which to repeat the information learned
  • Transpose notes into pictures or comics
  • Make concept maps
  • Track titles and keywords with your finger; say those words aloud and write them down from memory
  • Perform practical exercises
  • Write ideas with your own words
  • Write on the computer, not by hand.

Learning modalities according to the cerebral hemisphere

Another way to distinguish individual learning styles is to take into account the cerebral hemispheres.

Asselin and Mooney describe learning styles as global, based on the right hemisphere, or analytically, based on the left hemisphere. 

In general, those with a global styleperceive things as a whole, make general distinctions between concepts, are people-oriented, and learn in a social context” 

Those with an analytical learning style, on the other hand, perceive things through their parts rather than as a whole and impose a certain structure or restrictions on information and concepts (Miller, 2001, p. 3).

The way we focus on and remember new and difficult information is related to our global or analytical learning style.

Some students learn more easily when information is presented step by step, in a sequential model that builds an understanding of concepts. 

Others learn more easily either when they first understand the concept and then focus on details or when the introduction of information is done through a humorous story or an anecdote related to their experience and supported by examples and graphics (Dunn, 1995, p. 18 ).

Left hemisphere: analytical, logical, sequential, step by step, rational, whole-parts

Right hemisphere: holistic, intuitive, subjective, synthesizing

Howard Gardner’s multiple intelligences

Over the past decade, more and more teachers have embraced Howard Gardner’s theory of multiple intelligences.

Logical-mathematical and linguistic intelligence, the two most appreciated ways of thinking in school, are just two of the eight bits of intelligence described by Gardner based on cultural and biological research. 

In addition, Gardner identifies spatial, musical, bodily-kinesthetic, interpersonal, intrapersonal, and naturalist intelligence.

  • Logical-mathematical –  The ability to detect patterns, to reason deductively and to think logically. This type of intelligence is most often associated with scientific and mathematical thinking.
  • Linguistics – The mastery of a language. This intelligence type includes the ability to effectively manipulate language to express oneself rhetorically or poetically. All this intelligence allows us to use language as a means of remembering information.
  • Spatial – The ability to manipulate and create mental images to solve problems. This intelligence is not limited to the visual realms – Gardner notes that spatial intelligence also develops in children who cannot see.
  • Musical – The ability to use one’s mental abilities to coordinate one’s own body movements. This intelligence calls into question the popular belief that physical and mental activities are unrelated (ERIC, 1996, p. 2).
  • Corporal-kinesthetic – The ability to use one’s mental abilities to coordinate one’s own bodily movements. This intelligence challenges the popular belief that mental and physical activity are unrelated (ERIC, 1996, p. 2).
  • Interpersonal – The central ability to observe distinctions in others; in particular, contrasts in dispositions, temperaments, motivations, and intentions (Gardner, 1993, p. 42).
  • Intrapersonal – Access to one’s own sentimental life, one’s emotions, the ability to distinguish between these emotions and ultimately to qualify and use them as a means of understanding and orienting one’s behaviour (p. 44).
  • Naturalist –  Expertise in the recognition and classification of plants and animals. These capacities for observation, collection and qualification can also be applied to the “human” environment… (Campbell, 2003, p. 84).

What is your learning style?

Wand to know what your learning style is?

Find out with him by completing the test below:

1.) I learn best when:

 A. I see the information ____

 B. I hear the information ____

 C. I experiment (put into practice) the information ____

2.) I like:

 A. images and graphics ____

 B. audiobooks and stories told by those around____

 C. interactions with people and going on trips____

3.) To relax, I like to:

 A. I read____

 B. I listen to music____

 C. do sports or spend time outdoors____

4.) I tend to be:

A. contemplative____

 B. talking____

 C. active, dynamic____

5.) To remember a phone number:

 A. I write it a few times____

 B. I say it out loud a few times____

 C. I write down everything I have at hand____

6.) In class, I learn best when:

 A. I have a good textbook, visual aids (drawings, illustrations) and written information____

 B. the teacher says clear and interesting things____

 C. I am involved in certain activities____

7.) When I study for a test:

 A. I read my notes and write a summary____

 B. I read my courses aloud and say the memorized information____

 C. I like to study in groups and use tables____

8.) I have:

 A. a developed aesthetic sense and I am very attentive to visual details____

 B. great pleasure to tell jokes and tell stories____

 C. great pleasure to build things and be active____

9.) When I plan, I like:

 A. making a list and keeping a detailed calendar____

 B. talking about it with someone____

 C. designing a calendar on a computer____

10.) When preparing for a math test:

 A. I write the formulas on sheets or use pictures____

 B. memorize the formulas by speaking aloud____

 C. I use cubes, lego or three-dimensional models____

11.) Often:

 A. I remember the faces but not the name____

 B. I remember the name, but not the faces____

 C. I remember the events, but not the names or faces____

12.) I remember best when:

 A. I read the information and use images____

 B. I listen to information and use words that rhyme____

 C. I try to do things according to the principle of “trial and error” ____

13.) When I point someone to an address, I say something like:

 A. “Go to the right, reach the yellow block, then turn left until you see a large oak. Do you have a clear picture? ” ____

 B. “Go to the right, pass 3 blocks, then take a left at the post office. OK? Did you catch what I said? ” ____

 C. “Follow me !,” after I showed him the direction through gestures____

14.) When I go through a new city, I prefer:

A. to take a map and find the way alone____

 B. to stop and ask someone____

 C. to walk around the area and discover myself____

The highest score (A, B or C) indicates your predominant learning style.

Most “A” answers – your learning style is predominantly visual.

Most “B” answers – your learning style is predominantly auditory.

Most “C” answers – your learning style is predominantly kinesthetic.

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Conclusions

In this blog post, you learned everything there is to know about the four learning modalities: visual, auditory, tactile and kinesthetic. 

You also found out that there are two learning modalities according to our dominant cerebral hemisphere, and that there are also multiple types of intelligence. 

Please feel free to ask any questions or to leave a comment on the content. 

Recommendations

How Do I Learn Best?: a student’s guide to improved learning,  by Neil Fleming

Engage: The Trainer’s Guide to Learning Styles, by Jeanine O′Neill–Blackwell

Ways of Learning, by Alan Pritchard

50 Teaching and Learning Approaches: Simple, easy and effective ways to engage learners and measure their progress, by Sharron Mansell 

References

Campbell, B. (2003). The naturalist intelligence. Seattle, WA: New Horizons for Learning. 

Cotton, K. (1998). Education for lifelong learning: A literature synthesis. ED 422608. Washington, DC: OERI.

ERIC (1996). Multiple intelligences: Gardner’s theory. ED 410226. Washington, DC: OERI.

Gardner, H. (1993). Multiple intelligences: The theory in practice. New York: Harper Collins.

Miller, P. (2001). Learning styles: The multimedia of the mind. ED 451340.

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