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Learning Styles

Jim Correll, director Fab Lab ICC at Independence Community College, Independence Kansas 

In a previous article, well, maybe more than one, I’ve mentioned that there are many different styles of learning used by people to grow in knowledge about the world around them. The word “style” is not really the right word; it implies that people are able to choose a style of learning. Learning style is not a choice, it is innate, we are born with it and I’m not sure anyone really understands how or why we each come up with a learning style that works for us on an individual level. 

After one of those previous articles an elderly gentleman stopped me on the street and suggested that I list some of the different learning styles. What follows is an assembled list from the Internet. There are lots of different learning styles listed by different companies and web sites. I’m not sure it matters whether or not we have a definitive list. What is important is to realize that for the last 100 years academia has embraced auditory learning (lecture by subject matter expert) as the primary pedagogy (means of conveying knowledge.) For the most part, those that learn best by one of the other methods have not fared well in school, many even being branded as “slow”, “dumb” or “failure.” Many times, we’ve not used those exact words with them but the implication is there regardless of what politically correct word was used at the time. Take a look at this list and see if any of these learning styles strike a chord with you. Although I came out ok being subjected to Auditory Learning, I learned a few years ago that I’m definitely a Musical Learner. 

Auditory Learning 

Auditory learning is a learning style in which a person learns through listening. An auditory learner depends on listening and speaking as a main way of learning. 

The Linguistic Learner 

The linguistic learner is one who learns best through linguistic skills including reading, writing, listening, or speaking. 

The Naturalist 

The naturalist learns by working with, and experiencing, nature. 

The Musical or Rhythmic Learner 

The musical or rhythmic learner is one who learns using melody or rhythm. 

The Kinesthetic Learner 

 The Kinesthetic learner is a person that learns best by actually doing something. 

The Visual or Spatial Learner 

A visual or spatial learner is a person who learns best if there are visual aids around to guide the learning process. 

The Logical or Mathematical Learner 

The logical or mathematical learner must classify or categorize things. 

The Interpersonal Learner 

The interpersonal learner is someone who learns by relating to others. 

The Intrapersonal Learner 

The intrapersonal, as opposed to interpersonal, learner is someone who works and learns best when they are alone.  

If you recognize yourself as one of the other learners, besides auditory, you may not have done as well at school as you were led to believe you should. 

At Fab Lab ICC, we believe the reason project based or experiential learning is gaining ground in many K – 12 districts and some select community colleges (most of the 4-year universities will be slower to come around) is because the projects give students the opportunity to explore various learning styles in order to complete their projects. Lessons learned on a project are much more deeply imbedded in the mind than lessons memorized after hearing them from a lecturer or reading them from a text book. In life, whether working for customers or working for a boss, no one cares what kind of learner you are, only whether or not you can complete your projects successfully.  

Jim Correll is the director of Fab Lab ICC at the Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship on the campus of Independence Community College. He can be reached at (620) 252-5349, by email at or Twitter @jimcorrellks. 

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