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Learning Channel Preferences


Explanations > Learning Theory > Learning Channel Preferences


We do not learn equally through the same sensory channels.

One study has shown that, on average, we have roughly the same preference for three learning channels:

  • 37% of learning is haptic or kinesthetic, through moving, touching and doing.
  • 29% of learning is visual, through pictures and images.
  • 34% of learning is auditory, through sounds and words.

Most of us use all through channels to a certain extent, but not equally. We each have individual preferences for the balance of attention we pay to each channel.

Haptic learning

People who are learning haptically will pick things up and handle them. They will walk around the learning domain and want to physically try things out. When they are listening then may well slump and almost seem not to be paying attention. They will take fewer notes, which will use action-oriented words. When talking, they often have deeper voices and speak more slowly.

Visual learning

People who are learning visually will look intensely at both the teacher and the item being learned. They like pictures, colors, diagrams, but also are often comfortable with written texts (especially if broken up with headings and diagrams). When they read, they make pictures in their heads of what they are reading. They will draw what they are talking, waving their hands about artistically. They may use mind-maps or other visual forms of note-taking. When talking, they speak fast in order to keep up with the blur of images that are racing through their minds. This speed often leads to shorter breaths and a higher pitch of voice.

Auditory learning

People who are learning through sounds will listen carefully to what is said, perhaps tilting their head in order to better hear the sounds. They prefer to be told than to read, although reading is relatively easy for them, especially if it is well-written with effective use of words. When talking, they pay attention to the sound of their own voice, using effective words and intonation.

So what?

Take time to watch how people learn, and then pour your messages down the channels they use most - in the same proportion that they use them.

If you are not sure of their preferences, then spread your message across all sense channels.

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