ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

What are Learning Preferences?

Updated on February 1, 2018
Diane Lockridge profile image

Lockridge homeschools her children and holds an EdS in Curriculum and Instruction, an MS in Elementary Education, and a BA in History.

This group of students is employing several different learning methods at the same time: one student is writing, another is participating, another is watching, and another is listening to the results of the experiment.
This group of students is employing several different learning methods at the same time: one student is writing, another is participating, another is watching, and another is listening to the results of the experiment. | Source

Understanding how to reach students in a variety of methods enhgances learning.

Everybody's different.

I know, no mind-blowing information there, but did you know that learners are different too? Thankfully learning preferences aren't like fingerprints that are unique to each person. Although educators differ on the exact types (and number of) learning styles, most learning styles can be grouped into four major categories, what Neil Fleming has coined the "VARK" system: visual, aural, reading/writing and kinesthetic.

Understanding learning preferences also allows teachers to reach students in a way that most appeals to them. What appeals to a student is more likely to be retained and understood more. For example, if a teacher uses one primary teaching method (such as lecturing) it would be good to review material in another method (such as making students write a report) because it allows the student to better synthesizes information.

But the concept of learning preferences isn't just for educators, it is also beneficial for the student to understand as well. Sure, I'd noticed how my college roommates and I studied for tests differently, but I didn't really understand the concept of learning preferences (also known as learning styles) until later in my college career, when I was introduced the four major "schools" of learning styles.

Until recently I had thought that communication issues between me and a friend were just due to personality, but then I realize it wasn't so much personality as it was a difference in learning preferences. Understanding the differences between learning preferences or tendencies has helped me to communicate with others as well.


Study Tips for Visual Learners

  • Look for books with pictures, graphs and charts.
  • Highlight, underline, or put markings next to important parts in books, or in your handwritten notes from class.
  • Make doodles, images or acronyms that that help you remember information.

Visual Learners

Visual learners do best when presented with pictorial representations of data, and tend to understand charts and graphs better than their peers do.

Although PowerPoint presentations fall into the visual category, videos do not count as a visual learning strategy since most videos are about reenactments or contain lots of verbalization. In the classroom setting, viisual learners may wish to sit at the front of the class where they can see the teacher (and visual aids) best.

When considering if one falls into the "visual" category of learning thing about how you might want to learn something new. For example, if you wanted to learn how to fold a paper airplane the visual learner would prefer to watch someone make an airplane the first time.

Study Tips for Aural Learners

  • Attend all scheduled classes.
  • Discuss what you learned in class with others.
  • Ask your instructor about taking audio recordings of lectures.

Aural Learners

Do you tend to talk to yourself when bored, or repeat things aloud a lot? If so, you may just be someone who prefers the aural learning style.

Aural learners retain information best by using their ears, or when they are stimulated aurally. This technique is most commonly used when teachers use the lecture technique in class, or when teachers encourage students to discuss content in small groups.

Those of the aural-learning persuasion does best when listening to other people talk about the material, or by even reviewing their notes aloud to themselves. These learners may even like to play a question and answer game to better learn material, or just might ask their friend to quiz them orally for comprehension.

Basically if there is any sort of speaking involved, the aural learner will want to be involved. An aural learner would want to hear instructions when wanting to learn a new task or skill. For example, an aural learner would prefer to listen to driving directions over other methods.

Study Tips for Reading/Writing Learners

  • Make lists and headings.
  • Read textbooks thoroughly and read other related books on the topic.

Reading/Writing Learners

As the name of this learning preference implies, students (and teachers) of this persuasion prefer read or write about new skills.

Although lectures involve listening, the reading/writing learners thrives on taking notes during the lecture, instead of just "absorbing" the content with their ears. These learners like to make lists, do extra reading on the subject, and thrive on projects that let them show their comprehension in the written word.

When a reading/writing preferring student takes on new information he will prefer to work with the written word. For example, when putting together furniture, the reading/writing preferring learner would want to read written instructions rather than viewing pictorial representations.

Study Tips for Kinesthetic Learners

  • Think of real-life examples.
  • Make collections, perform experiments, and view experiments or photographs.

Kinesthetic Learners

Kinesthetic learners enjoy by "doing" and participating in activities. Role-play situations, hands-on activities, science experiments and field trips are often the best way to engage these learners, since they enjoy learning by doing and experiencing.

Kinesthetic learners may become bored in the traditional classroom settings, and may require more breaks than the average student. They are uncomfortable in classrooms where they can't get up and move around, or where they can't actively participate.

Although it isn't practical to expect all classroom concepts to be taught in an experiential manner, teachers can help their kinesthetic-loving students learn better by giving real-life examples, and suggesting students put themselves in the shoes of those they are learning about.

Because kinesthetic learners learn best by doing, you may have to let your kinesthetic students struggle with activities themselves in order for them to have the most beneficial experience.

What's your preferred learning style?

See results

Mulit-Modal Learners

Despite a variety of learning preferences, mot everyone can be pigeon-holed into being only one style of learner. Many people learn better when presented with material via multiple learning methods, however most people have a stronger preference for one method over another.

Unless your teachers drones on-and-on in a lecture format (and practically reads the textbook aloud) most teachers tend to present material in more than one method anyway. For example, teachers often give real-life examples to help make a point. Teachers might also refer to a map on the board, give suggested extra reading, or perform a science experiment.

Teachers will do best for the students when they seek out new methods of presenting classroom concepts. Although a teacher may be hesitant to discuss the same thing in multiple ways, just consider it another form of review.

It is important to consider that although one clearly has a learning preference, it is beneficial to practice learning in other methods as well. Some educators caution students to strengthen other portions of their brain and learn in a non-preferred method.


Teachers shouldn't be overwhelemed or feel the need to integrate each learning method into every classroom session, because let's face it, you can't teach the same thing in four different methods— they day just isn't long enough. Teachers can, however, offer review sessions that use different methods, or bring in different elements of the classroom content in a different manner of thinking.

Worried about your teaching style leaning too heavily on one learning method? Consider asking your students how they learn best, and then tailoring your teaching style to suit the needs of majority of students in your class.


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No comments yet.


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
    ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)