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Learning Styles

Learning Styles: Visual, Auditory or Kinesthetic

March 4, 2013 by Dr. Jon Warner in Learning Styles

Learning styles can be split into three kinds of learning categories: visual, kinesthetic (sometimes called tactile), and auditory.  These categories have to do with HOW a leader, coach or trainer delivers information so that it appeals to both sides of the brain of the receiver, thus maximizing the likelihood of retention.

If we take the example of a relatively formal training, it makes quite a lot of common sense that using a variety of training methods makes learning more interesting.  Such classes typically use visual channels through use of video, slides, booklets and templates.  They also using kinesthetic methods by having participants do exercises and role-plays for example, which put theoretical concepts or broad ideas into practice.  In such training classes we also hold discussions, take notes, and use templates and forms to record possible actions and reactions to the information presented.  In this case we are also using auditory learning by a course leader talking, (or showing video characters interacting with each other and the narrator explaining the topic area).  In this way, we hope that the material will “stick” better for participants by drawing upon all the available learning channels.

We know that for some people, a visual presentation of information or material will be most compelling; for others, the kinesthetic aspect of the exercises might be best for learning; still others will learn the most by listening.  A leader is therefore wise to try to incorporate all three techniques in talking, teaching or coaching others through instruction, training or general influence.

So, in summary these three learning styles have the following characteristics:

Visual learners use language like “I can see that …” or “I get the picture …” They like video-clips where available, pictures, charts and diagrams when presenting information to them.

Kinesthetic learners will say things like “that feels right … I can handle that …”. Quite often they speak more slowly, preferring to demonstrate things and gesture rather than use lots of words. In terms of learning they like to “touch and feel” as much as they can or where this is not possible have the information relate well to their senses.

Auditory learners say things like “I hear what you’re saying …” or “That sounds right …”.  They can handle lots of different sounds, often enjoy having music playing while they read, study or talk to others. When presenting information to them, auditory learners tend to listen carefully to the words chosen but will also happily read written material given to them.

The featured video clip is drawn from the ReadyToManage, Rapid Skill Builder Learning Styles Video Vignette Set.

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About Dr. Jon Warner

Dr. Jon Warner is a prolific author, management consultant and executive coach with over 25 years experience. He has an MBA and a PhD in Organizational Psychology. Jon can be reached at

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About the Editor and Primary Author

Jon Warner

Jon Warner is an executive coach and management consultant and in the past has been a CEO in three very different companies. Read more

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