What is Your Style of Learning?

Hi, SEers! Mae here on a cold February day. If you happen to live in the southern hemisphere and are enjoying beautiful temperate weather, please bottle some and send it up north! Winter doldrums aside, I thought it would be interesting to take a look at learning. Bear with me as I make the loop from point A to point B, because there’s a small hike in between.

Starting with Point A
For the last few years, I have—on and off—been trying to learn Spanish. Fortunately, there are numerous apps and products to help with language learning, and lately I’ve buckled down. One of the programs I looked into favors speaking Spanish words before learning to write them.

Think about it—when you were a baby, you formed words by mimicking what you heard. You learned to speak before you learned to write. And, herein, lies a problem for me, because it made me realize what kind of learner I am.

There are roughly eight styles of learning, but I’m only going to focus on four as they compose the core group. See if you recognize yourself in one of these.

large square street sign on pole with word Learning and arrows pointing in different directions, busy street crossing behind pole

Visual Learners
Visual learners like to see and observe. They do well with pictures, diagrams, maps, and printouts. They can easily visualize plans and outcomes and are also usually note takers.

Auditory Learners
If you’re an auditory learner, you like listening to lectures and participating in group discussions. You might also repeat information out loud in order to better absorb it.

Reading/Writing Learners
You like to read and write down what you’ve learned. You have a small overlap with visual learning, but respond best to text rather than audio or visual prompts.

Kinesthetic Learners
Kinesthetic learners are hands-on, and learn best by doing. If you’re a kinesthetic learner, you do well in role-playing situations or learning a project by actively working through it.

Whatever your style of learning, each of us does best when engaged in our preferred style.

Turns out I am a reading/writing learner. I can’t resist writing things down, taking copious amounts of notes and reviewing what I’ve written. I’ve known for quite some time I learn best and retain what I’ve learned when I write it down—but I didn’t realize that would keep me from learning Spanish through a mimic method (fortunately, I knew well enough not to spend the money).

None of the apps I use are designed for note taking, but—surprise!—I do it anyway. I have a three-ring binder devoted solely to my scribblings for learning Spanish. Who the heck else does this from an app?

Open three ring binder with loose pages scattered top, filled with writing in different colored ink

Arriving at Point B
It made me realize I do the same thing when I’m researching a novel. For every book I’ve researched, I have a separate notebook devoted to what I’ve learned. I’m going to use my Point Pleasant series as an example. It wasn’t enough to read numerous books about the Mothman, the collapse of the Silver Bridge, UFOs and Men in Black. Or watch numerous documentaries and consume a plethora of articles and blog posts. And let’s not forget chatting to people who experienced or remembered some of these events.

I had to write it all down.

I have three notebooks­, one for each novel in my Point Pleasant series. The middle is the thickest, but all three have pages upon pages of handwritten notes. Why? Because when I wrote it down, I was better able to retain the information.

I did the same thing while researching 19th Century spiritualism and sham mediums for Cusp of Night. That, too, has its own notebook loaded with scribblings from numerous books and articles I’ve read.

And—ready for this?—typing notes doesn’t work. There is something about handwriting that reinforces learning for me. I wonder if it goes back to grade school.

Whether I’m learning a new computer program, a social media platform, researching a novel or even the best way to approach an agent, anything of value has to be written down. I’ve read a lot of non-fiction devoted to various subjects that interest me, but have retained only a fraction of what I learned. Why? Because I didn’t write it down. Compare that to Point Pleasant and Cusp, and there is enough in my head to give lectures!

Now it’s your turn. Tell me what kind of learner you are. Can you share an example of how you’ve applied it? How that style of learning relates to your writing?

Like me, do you find all of this endlessly fascinating?  Let’s chat!

Ready, set, go!

Bio box for author, Mae Clair

75 thoughts on “What is Your Style of Learning?

  1. Pingback: What is Your Style of Learning? — Story Empire – Diane P. Proctor

  2. Pingback: Week in Review – Joan Hall

  3. Founded iny my sadly deficient theatrical history the learning of ‘lines’ is a method I cannot get away from. In my youth (said the sage) I could learn whole bails of text very quickly, with just two provisos – the text was in English, or something approximating thereto, and it made ‘sense’. For example, Shakespeare is very easy to learn because of the rhythm and imagery, Behan rather less so, because you never know what he is going to say next! That just about does it for French, too, which I have struggled with for years. I put it down to having no French people to talk to, but I know the truth, really.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I admit to struggling with Shakespeare in school, although later in life I did buy a collection of my favorite Bard plays to reread. His work really is timeless.
      I also took semester of French in school then dropped it. I wish I would have done Spanish. Now I find language learning difficult, because like you, I have no Spanish speaking people to talk with. The apps I use really do help though.
      I am definitely that read lines/write them down learner! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I think I fall somewhere in a mix of these but lean more toward Kinesthetic Learning. If I can put my hands on it, I can learn it. 🙂 I take lots of notes when I attend conferences and then they get put on a shelf when I get home and I rarely ever look at them again. I’m not sure what that says about me. Great post, Mae! Thank you for sharing!

    Liked by 1 person

    • That’s an interesting blend, Jan. I have a small tendency toward kinesthetic learning, but most of mine is reading/writing. Maybe you do the initial note writing as a way of retaining the information, but in the long run really don’t need it, or find other methods more effective. Thanks for sharing!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. By a process of elimination, I definitely come into the Reading/Writing learners. Unfortunately, only my best friend can read my handwriting, long since ruined by scribbling too fast, so for “writing” read “typing”,
    I travel a lot and research the settings as I go, but i concentrate on the atmosphere and the people. My husband is a great leaflet-collector and videos everything, so I guess he’s my “notebook”.
    Great article, May, thank you.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I like that your husband does all that collecting and videoing for you, allowing you to concentrate on the atmosphere and the people. 🙂

      I was able to do onsite research for a setting location once and it was the best research I’ve ever done—immersing myself in the surroundings and atmosphere. I envy you that you’re able to do that frequently.

      And it seems like a lot of writers don’t have good penmanship judging from the comments on this post, LOL.

      I’m so glad you enjoyed the post, Sarah. Many thanks for stopping by, reaidng, and commenting!


  6. I’m more visual, though I also learn well by doing. But only if it’s something I need to know how to do. Don’t show me how to do something if I don’t understand why I need it. My husband is dyslexic, and because reading is more difficult for him, he’s almost totally an audio learner. Smart as a whip–tell him something and he retains it and does it. Though he also can figure things out really well using pictures and graphs. When we travel, he has the map, lol.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I find that so intriguing! I think–though I have no data to back up the idea–that audio learners are probably few and far between. I believe it’s a unique skillset, definitely not one that works for me, LOL. I need to see (like you, visual), but far more than that, I need to write it down after I see something in order to retain it. I love speculating about how these various learning skills developed. I understand why your husband would tend toward audio, but it’s fascinating to think why another might lean toward visual or reading/writing. And how our learning style carries over into so many aspects of our life.
      Thanks for sharing today!


  7. As a retired teacher, your post immediately got my attention, Mae. I’m somewhat biased, but I think most schools do a pretty good job considering the almost impossible hand they’ve been dealt. I challenge anyone to teach thirty children of varying abilities who come from all types of backgrounds. Some children are blessed to have stable family lives with good role models (that was my story), and others have parents who can’t manage their own lives, let alone set any type of positive example.

    That said, I believe the subject of learning styles doesn’t get the attention it deserves in schools. My frustration comes when education/schools adopt a “one size fits all” approach. I’d be interested to know if there are as many reading/writer learners today. My guess is that it is also related to familiarity. I also was trained to take a lot of notes in school, and I tend to like to write things down, although that may not be nearly as efficient. I am much more of a visual learner than an auditory learner.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Hi, Pete! I am so glad you stopped by to share. When I was younger, I considered a career in teaching but life took a different turn. Fortunately, as an adult, I’ve done a fair amount of instructional classes for my peers on my day job. As someone with no background in teaching, it was an eye opener to realize how varied learning styles are. I honestly don’t know how teachers manage.

      Growing up, I was a student exposed to that “one size fits all” approach. I was lucky enough to fit the reading/writing profile, something that has carried over into adulthood. For me, it was a perfect fit, but I had several friends who struggled. You raised an excellent point as to whether it still works for the majority today. The challenges teachers face must be mind boggling. I know there are more options today for schooling, but it is without a doubt a challenging, and so important field.

      I’m terrible when it comes to audio and learning, and like visual to a degree. But after I see something, I have to write it down in order to retain it!

      Liked by 1 person

  8. I prefer reading/writing, although i can do some visual. I have pages upon pages of notes from my Romance Under Wraps novel, but I can tell you, I retained most of what I have written down. When I took notes in school, I would go home and transfer them to another notebook. One that was much neater. Let’s just say my writing is horrible at best.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m the same way when it comes to research notes for my books, Michele. I write notes like crazy, but retain what I’ve written. I can do a little bit of visual, but if I want to make things stick I have to transfer what I see to writing. My printing has always been decent so I don’t have problems reading what I’ve written, but I can be sloppy when I’m in a hurry, LOL.
      Isn’t it interesting to realize the habits we developed in school still how true today?

      Liked by 1 person

  9. I’m about to do a teacher’s course, and I’ve just been doing some preparatory work looking at this very topic, Mae. I like reading and writing, although when it comes to trying to remember things, repeating them and reading them out loud does help for me (and when it comes to editing my writing, listening to it helps me pick up many mistakes I miss just reading it on the page). Although for descriptions of complex objects, I need a visual depiction as well. Great topic!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Olga, it sounds like you have varied learning traits and are adaptable across the board.
      And although I’m not an auditory learner, I do find benefit in editing my writing from reading aloud. I pick up on all of the discordant sounds and repetitive words.
      Good point about complex subjects, too. I often need more than one type of study/learning to retain the information.
      I bet your teacher’s course will be fascinating!


  10. Great topic, Mae. I learned a lot about this because my oldest daughter is an audio learner and struggled in a school system set up for visual learners. I was amazed at how inflexible the schools were with this. She could not read and comprehend, but if you told her she wouldn’t forgets. That was a battle, even when they finally gave in they still found ways to not help. As for me I am a reading/writing and visual learner. I take notes, too. I usually don’t need to go back to them because writing it down it in my mind keeps it at least for a while:) I prefer to write it on paper too.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Denise, did you see Pete Springer’s comment up above about the “one size fits all” style of learning? It’s so sad that schools were inflexible when it came to teaching. It must have been so hard for you as a parent to see your daughter struggle with a style of learning that didn’t work for her. I’m amazed by auditory learners. I’d never be able to retain information that way which just go to shows how different we all are. I’m glad schools are more open to the difference between students today and there are more options for learning.
      I’m with you as a reading/writing learner (with just a tad of visual for me). For some reason writing notes on paper makes all the difference in cementing the information in my mind.
      Thanks for sharing!


    • Jacquie, I’m all about reading and writing, too. It does allow more time for the information to register and “stick” as opposed to auditory listening which is something I hadn’t stopped to consider before. Great observation, pea-brains and all, LOL.

      Liked by 1 person

  11. Reblogged this on The Write Stuff and commented:

    Cool post on Story Empire today about how we learn. Mae Clair has done a great job of explaining the different ways people process new information, something I’ve always been interested in. Check it out and see which profile fits you best. Then pass it along so others can enjoy too, if you would. Thanks, and thanks to Mae for such a fun and informative post! 🙂 ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks for sharing, Marcia, and for that great intro. I love exploring topics like this. It’s interesting to see how each of us learn and why those styles work or us. I’m glad you enjoyed the post. I find subjects like this utterly fascinating!


  12. So interesting, Mae, and you and I definitely don’t learn the same way. I was actually tested for this some years ago, and at that time, I tested 50/50 for Verbal & Visual. I learn via hearing OR reading, equally. (Not necessarily in that order). I do remember both pretty well, but alas, as my hearing has worsened so much, I miss a lot more from verbal/audio than I once did, even with hearing aids. Still, I never, ever try a new app or use a new computer program or even a household appliance without reading every single word in the manual, and if available, watching a You Tube video or two, with the speakers cranked up loud. 😀 Since the knock on the head in October, I do notice a difference in what I have to do to learn something brand new, though. I’m still in the time frame where some of my brain synapses are coming back online, so I hope that will continue to improve.

    And no, I take almost no notes at all to write, other than a few What-If sentences, seldom more than one typed sheet. If I need spedific facts and figures for something, I’ll cut and paste them onto a doc for later references. I wouldn’t be able to read my writing, anyway.

    Having said all of that, I’m married to a man who learns 100% visually. I used to try to describe something I wanted him to build, right down to the dimensions, and no matter how basic a thing it was, he’d say, “Draw me a picture.” It took a while for me to learn he wasn’t just trying to drive me crazy. It didn’t compute until he could look at it. And of course, he’s the type of guy who hates instructions or directions, anyway, so even more glued to the picture thing. As if men and women don’t have enough trouble communicating as it is, then you find out you’re essentially speaking two different languages, one filled with words, and one filled with images. 😀

    Cool post, thanks! Sharing!! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • What a great comment, Marcia! Where to start, LOL?

      I think it’s awesome you learn by hearing and reading. Your comment made me realize something I hadn’t stopped to consider before. I’ve managed a hearing loss in my left ear since I was in grade school. Often times when conversing, I don’t always hear every word someone says, but it’s second nature for me to sort of “guess” what someone is saying. Maybe that’s why I’m not a good auditory learner. Give me the words I can read or the visuals I can see, so that I can make my own notes about them. I also hate watching instructional videos, and cringe whenever I have to. I’m also in awe that you don’t need to write notes to retain information. I’d be lost without mine, LOL.

      My hubby, however, is like yours. He much prefers to see something, and dislikes reading as a way of learning. He’s a visual/hands-on type of learner. It would be interesting to see a study on how men learn vs. how women learn and if there’s a majority for each 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      • It’s been my personal observation over a long life that men and women do not speak the same language at all, no matter how our brains learn things. The old Mars/Venus thing seems more true to me with every passing year. Honestly, there are times when I wonder how we get together long enough to perpetuate the species! 😀 😀 😀 (But that’s just between you and I, of course! 😉 )

        Liked by 1 person

  13. I’m definitely reading/writing. I think that’s one of the reasons I need to make plot points. Or maybe because I seem to need to “see” the whole thing, how it fits together, before I really understand the steps. I know that worked better for me in math. I don’t think I’m a linear learner. I need to understand the whole concept. I’m horrible at audible. Podcasts aren’t for me. I get bored. I haven’t even listened to my own books in audio, and I’d LIKE to, to see how they sound and what the narrator does, but it drives me crazy and my mind drifts off.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Definitely a Reading/Writing Learner here, with a big dose of visual. But don’t try to read my notes, they are a mixture of text, scribbles, doodles, arrows and sometimes random words that cover the page. They make perfect sense to me and can pull me right back into the moment I created them. They tend to be useless to anyone else. Great topic, Mae.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Well, as long as you can understand your notes, that’s all that counts, LOL! I tend to scribble more on my notes for my books, making notations up the sides of pages I have already written. I also love my different colored pens and highlighters.
      I’m glad you enjoyed the topic today. I think it’s fascinating how each of us respond differently and learn differently, something that carries over into so many aspects of our life. Thanks for commentign!

      Liked by 1 person

  15. I’ve been to supervisor classes about this, and various instructor development workshops through work. Every time they test me I am the poster child for visual learners. I’ve taken to keeping Pinterest boards for my writing purposes to play to my strength. Even my storyboards are mostly visual with very few words on my index cards. I also attach pictures to them. I also tend to study things in film more than when I read. Again, the visual aspect does it for me.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yep, I’d say you are most certainly a visual learner. It’s interesting, when I got to work today I got a text from a relative regarding some information on a particular topic I was interested in.. They sent me a YouTube link to watch a video, and I immediately thought,”huh? You mean I can’t read about it?”
      That also made me realize how many times I skip video tutorials in favor of written ones.
      I think I’m at the opposite end of the spectrum from you, LOL…but I do like Pinterest boards 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  16. I’m very much a visual learner, and it really shows when I plot out stories. My planning is full of pictures. Pictures that I pull off the internet or draw by hand – badly drawn because I have basically no talent for drawing, but I can do it well enough to remember what was in my head. It’s one of life’s little oxymorons that I have a need to draw pictures but no talent to do it in a way that is reflective of what’s in my head. Basically my planning is in a story board format 😊

    Liked by 1 person

    • Tessa, when I was doing NaNo prep, I sketched some really horrible drawings, representing various aspects of my setting. My day was an artist, but I inherited zero talent when it comes to drawing. I do look at pictures to help inspire me, but when it comes to my thought process, it all has to be written down. I like that you create your story and storyboard through visuals and drawings. Much more fun than writing it all out, LOL!

      Liked by 1 person

  17. Okay, I’m the strange one in that I’m a combination. I’m mostly kinesthetic. For instance, when it comes to learning new software, I have to do hands-on. Writing and reading come second with a touch of visual. I’m not an auditory learner at all! Podcasts, lectures, etc., bore me to no end. Great post, Mae!

    Liked by 1 person

    • That’s a good combination, Joan, and a sensible one. When it comes to new software, I do like hands on learning, but at the same time I’m doing that, I’m still writing down all the steps! I’m not an auditory learner either—which is also probably why I don’t buy audio books or have a desire too.
      I’m glad you enjoyed today’s post!

      Liked by 1 person

  18. I’m a reader/writer, too. Slight crossover into visual. Auditory is useless for me; I can’t absorb anything I listen to. Hands-on is hit or miss.

    For the record, my daughter is learning Spanish. She tried an app; didn’t like it. Now she’s using flashcards. (And talking to her fiancé and his family a lot.) While working with the app and the flashcards, she’s been taking a ton of notes. So, you’re not alone in that regard.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Staci, you and I sound much the same—reading/writing with a slight crossover into visual. Auditory does nothing for me either.

      And that’s interesting about your daughter. Good to know I’m not the only one who writes notes from what I’ve learned using an app.
      I do like using flashcards. One of the apps I have uses that as an online tool as well. I just never realized how hard language learning would be as an adult!

      Liked by 1 person

  19. Reading/writing here too. Even in my youth, I’d take a million notes as the lecturer droned on. I probably overlap with visual a bit, but my main learning style definitely involves the written word. Don’t laugh, but when I was looking up how to do certain dungeons [as part of online games], I’d take screenshots of the videos and write down exactly how to do each mechanic. The only thing I don’t do is longhand. I hate it. 😦

    Liked by 1 person

    • This is so interesting. I wonder if most writers are reading/writing learners. It will be interesting to see as the day progresses and comments grow.
      I’ve tried Babbel for Spanish, also the Rosetta Stone and a few others. My favorite go-to program and the one I use the most is Duolingo. But still, I’m writing things down, LOL.

      Thanks for reflagging, Harmony!


  20. Pingback: What is Your Style of Learning? | Welcome to Harmony Kent Online

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