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learning modalities (1)Are you an auditory, visual or kinesthetic learner? Do you prefer to listen, see or move to gain the most from a learning experience? Most of us will say we think we know how we learn best. However, in the past few years research has debunked the idea of preferential learning styles.

Research has shown that we actually learn and retain information equally well through any of these paths. Evidence suggests that we may prefer one type of learning over another but that, in practice, that preference doesn’t improve our performance. Once study strategies are taught, we have the ability to do as well through any of the modes of learning. Reading this information made me question my own preference for visual learning. I prefer to see and take notes to learn rather than to attend a lecture where listening is the main pathway to attain information. Maybe I placed too much emphasis on my note taking as a kinesthetic way to learn? Or perhaps I overrated my need to see the information that is being discussed along with hearing it?

We don’t learn in isolation, nor do we retain isolated facts for any length of time. Taking notes in a lecture may help you focus. Moving might support attention and interest for some people. Now that research has proven we can learn in various ways, does that mean that we don’t have a preference? Probably not. But it does mean that we don’t need to rely solely on that preference. We can learn in new ways and need to open our minds to the possibilities.