DAVE ANDERSON | 5 MIN READ
Remember when you were in school? You likely had classmates who excelled in different subjects and activities. There was the math genius, the avid reader, the musician, the athlete, the artist, and so on.
Everyone learns in different ways and we tend to get interested in topics that just make sense to us. In fact, researchers have discovered there are eight distinct learning styles humans develop at a young age and continue to use into adulthood.
We’ll take you through each learning style in this article and provide tips for training employees who fall into the various categories.
Also known as linguistic learners, verbal learners process information delivered in written or speech form. They love to read, write, and listen and have a flair for language when they speak. You can spot verbal learners jotting down detailed notes throughout their workday.
Tips for training verbal learners:
- Provide written guides and help articles or narrated PowerPoints and videos where the presenter talks through key concepts.
- Ensure training is presented at a steady pace that gives employees time to take notes.
- Allow employees to study their notes before taking a test or presenting on what they learned.
Similar to verbal learners, auditory learners enjoy hearing others speak. They have a knack for recalling detailed conversations and stories off the top of their head. Additionally, auditory learners are strong speakers themselves, making them ideal teachers to lead your training sessions.
Tips for training auditory learners
- Conduct training through in-person presentations, narrated PowerPoints/videos, and even podcasts/audiobooks.
- Make sure lessons have a start, middle, and end so employees can connect points chronologically in their mind.
- Consider letting employees give an oral presentation on what they learned instead of a written test.
Visual, or spatial learners, absorb information from graphs, diagrams, infographics, and other types of images. While they’re the artsy type, visual learners also prefer words and data be laid out in an aesthetically-pleasing manner. They’re often the one organizing everyone’s thoughts on the whiteboard in planning sessions.
Tips for training visual learners:
- Use graphic-heavy PowerPoints and videos in favor of text-based resources.
- Color-code different concepts so it’s easy for employees to organize key takeaways.
- Have a professional designer or someone familiar with layout and spacing best practices create your content.
Sometimes referred to as mathematical learners, logical learners extract information from data and statistics. But even more than that, they often ask why a concept is important and how it can be applied in the real world. As the name implies, logical learners want to know what the end goal is and the step-by-step plan for how it will be accomplished.
Tips for training logical learners
- Make sure concepts and takeaways are supported with statistics and examples.
- Share the learning objective at the start of the presentation and work toward it throughout the lesson.
- Host a QA session at the end of lessons so employees can get a deeper understanding of what was covered.
Social or interpersonal learners gain knowledge by communicating with others. They enjoy getting in a room with their colleagues to discuss a topic or work through a problem. Social learners are also intuitive and have an innate ability to pick up on what others are thinking and feeling.
Tips for training social learners
- Conduct group training sessions or give employees time to discuss what they learned after they complete their individual training.
- Consider using role play exercises, if it’s appropriate for the training topic.
- Again, allow employees to give an oral presentation on what they learned.
Contrary to social learners, intrapersonal learners prefer to acquire knowledge on their own terms. They get in the zone when they’re by themselves and free of distractions. While intrapersonal learners tend to be quiet and private, they’re also self-reliant and successful at working independently.
Tips for training intrapersonal learners
- Provide a quiet place for employees to work through lessons on their own.
- Trust employees to complete their training requirements. Don’t look over their shoulder or constantly check in on them.
- Traditional written or multiple-choice tests best suit intrapersonal learners.
Also called kinesthetic learners, physical learners take a hands-on approach. You can show them a process once and they’ll strive to master it through repetition. Physical learners are naturally active people and do their best thinking when they’re moving around or exercising.
Tips for training physical learners
- Create an immersive training program where employees learn through action. Gamified training is a neat idea but learning by doing the actual job may be more practical.
- Make training content accessible on mobile so employees can consume it while walking or working out.
A relative of the physical learner, naturalistic learners also grasp lessons through experience. However, they also think big picture, connecting concepts to everyday life and the world at large. Naturalistic learners come up with their best ideas outside in fresh air.
Tips for training naturalistic learners
- Make sure the main points in your lessons are supported by real-world examples.
- Create a flexible training program that allows employees to complete it when and where they choose to. Again, use mobile-friendly content that can be consumed outdoors.
Play to your employees’ strengths
While the differences between learning styles are apparent, you likely noticed there is crossover as well. Designing a training program that caters to every individual employee will never work. However, get familiar with the tips we provided and create lessons that support multiple learning styles.