When you hear the word “intelligence,” you might think of IQ tests and numbers that are supposed to determine how “smart” you are, and even your capacity for learning new things.
But what if there were a different way to describe intelligence?
In his 1983 book Frames of Mind: The Theory of Multiple Intelligences, Harvard psychologist Howard Gardner proposed this theory of multiple intelligences, which includes 8 different learning styles.
He suggested that while a person might perform particularly well in one area, they likely have a range of abilities, or a combination of several styles.
His theory has been criticized by some psychologists for being too broad, and some claim that his 8 intelligences simply represent personality traits and abilities.
Nevertheless, the theory is popular among educators, who adapt their teaching philosophies to address multiple learning styles so that more students will be able to learn in ways that work for them.
Understanding these different styles of learning might help you to identify and use your own strengths to your advantage, while working on less developed areas.
What Are the 8 Different Types of Learning Styles?
Below are the 8 types of learning styles, according to Gardner’s Theory of Multiple Intelligences.
1. Linguistic: Learn with Words
Linguistic learners, also known as verbal learners, are communication masters. They’re very skilled at reading, listening, writing, and speaking, and they prefer to learn via those methods as well.
This type of learner is great at asking questions, and they excel at verbal expression. Linguistic learners often go on to pursue careers in journalism, public relations, politics, and other fields that involve the mastery of words.
You’re probably a linguistic learner if you:
- have a love for reading and writing
- enjoy learning new languages
- have a large vocabulary
- like asking thoughtful questions
- take good notes
- prefer reading content out loud to better understand it
2. Naturalist: Learn from Nature
Naturalist learners are in tune with nature and like to learn by observing the world around them. They also like to experiment and try new things to test theories.
These learners often pursue careers in science, research, and environmental study.
You’re probably a naturalist learner if you:
- love spending time outdoors
- enjoyed biology, environmental science, or related courses at school
- notice even subtle changes in your environment
- are good at identifying patterns, especially those found in nature
3. Auditory or Musical: Learn from Sound
Auditory learners, sometimes known as musical learners, respond best to sound and speech. They remember what their instructors say in class, perhaps better than what is written on the board.
In addition, many auditory learners are great at picking up rhythms, and may have better results if they study while listening to music.
You’re probably an auditory learner if you:
- enjoy listening to music while you study or work
- have a strong sense of rhythm
- use clever rhymes to remember important concepts
- sing or play an instrument
4. Kinesthetic: Learn by Doing
Kinesthetic learners, or physical learners, learn by doing. “Going through the motions” helps them learn while getting the practical experience they need to do a task.
The careers that they pursue often require hands-on training, such as jobs in the technical fields, arts, sports, or even medicine.
You’re probably a kinesthetic learner if you:
- enjoy sports and physical activity
- possess highly developed motor skills
- prefer to “learn by doing”
- have excellent motor memory
- have high energy levels
5. Visual or Spatial: Learn by Seeing
Visual learners learn best when they have images that help them process information. They prefer to see what they’re expected to know or do, by watching videos, looking at pictures, or seeing someone else perform an action first.
These learners also tend to have good spatial awareness and sense of direction. They might make great interior designers, architects, and artists.
You’re probably a visual learner if you:
- are good at visualizing plans and outcomes
- can easily follow maps and directions
- enjoy drawing, coloring, or doodling
- prefer pictures or videos to help you learn new concepts
- have good color balance
6. Logical or Mathematical: Learn by Analyzing
Logical (or mathematical) learners are those that often ask “why?” or “how?”. They want to understand the reasons behind concepts, and they tend to recognize patterns and solve equations quickly.
It’s not much of a surprise that these learners often become engineers, mathematicians, or other experts in the sciences.
You’re probably a logical learner if you:
- like to classify and group pieces of information to better understand them
- are good at performing calculations
- enjoy planning itineraries and organizing events
- get more from analyzing a statistical study than reading literature about it
7. Interpersonal: Learn from Others
Interpersonal learners thrive in social settings. Whereas others may dread group projects, these “people persons” love collaborating and bouncing ideas off of each other.
By contrast, they often find it challenging to work alone. These learners are often good mediators and can offer helpful advice, since they know how to work well with others.
You’re probably an interpersonal learner if you:
- enjoy social settings
- are involved in extracurricular activities related to your work, studies, or other interests
- are a good listener and conflict resolver
- are trusted by others for your advice and fairness
- get more done when you work with others
8. Intrapersonal: Learn in Solitude
Quite unlike the interpersonal learner, intrapersonal learners actually thrive off of alone time. They’re self-motivated and highly independent.
Intrapersonal learners prefer a quiet environment, where they can spend time on self-analysis and reflection. They like to learn and self-teach through books and other independent forms of study.
You’re probably an intrapersonal learner if you:
- like to journal
- dislike large crowds and noisy environments
- set goals and make your own plans
- are good at managing your time and progress
- enjoy reflection and self-analysis
So Many Ways to Learn
The next time you feel particularly challenged by a subject, try using a different learning style. For example, if you’re a visual learner, try watching YouTube videos about the concept you’re studying, or if you’re an interpersonal learner, try talking it over with friends.
There’s more than one way to learn something new, so don’t let yourself get discouraged too quickly—maybe you just need to try a different approach!
Which learning style do you prefer? Share your thoughts in the comments below!
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