The 17 Learning Styles and their Characteristics

The learning styles are the different ways in which each person is able to acquire knowledge, skills and attitudes. Although there are many different theories on the subject, all are characterized by defending the idea that different learning styles can be classified into several categories.

Contrary to the defenders of the traditional model of education, which considers that all students learn in the same way, the proponents of the theories of learning styles believe that a teaching will be more effective if it adapts to the individual characteristics of each student .

The 17 Learning Styles and their Characteristics

Despite the evidence that each person prefers a type of teaching method, there are hardly any studies that show the advantages of using different teaching styles. Some critics even go so far as to say that there is no evidence of the advantage of adapting to the learning styles of the students.

However, a large number of teaching centers of all kinds have begun to adopt the theory of learning styles in recent times.

Therefore, the knowledge in this field has been increasing little by little, until giving rise to the great variety of existing models nowadays.


  • 1 List of models on learning styles
    • 1.1 Theory of multiple intelligences
    • 1.2 Model by David Kolb
    • 1.3 VARK model
    • 1.4 Cognitive model
    • 1.5 NASSP Model
  • 2 References

List of models on learning styles

It is estimated that, since the appearance of the first individualized teaching models in the 70s, almost a hundred theories about learning styles have been created.

In this article we will see the best known. Among all the theories / models, they make a sum of 17 different learning styles.

Theory of multiple intelligences

The Theory of multiple intelligences It is a cognitive and learning model that is characterized by defending the idea that there is not a single general factor of intelligence. On the contrary, its proponents believe that each person stands out more or less in seven different types of intelligences.

The seven types of intelligence normally described are the following:

  • Visual intelligence . Skilled people in this sense are very good at tasks that have to do with spatial logic, visual arts and visual memory. Their learning style is visual: they prefer to acquire knowledge using images, colors, contextual maps, schemas...
  • Kinesthetic intelligence . People with a high score in this type of intelligence control their own body and movements very well. With a physical learning style, they prefer to learn through role plays, using physical objects, or creating their own schemes.
  • Auditory or musical intelligence . They are very good at tasks related to music and languages. With an aural learning style, their education is simpler if rhythms, melodies, or recordings are used. They are also the ones who learn best by simply listening.
  • Intelligence linguistics . These people have a great command of speech and writing. With a verbal learning style, they learn the best way if they can read content aloud or create their own summaries.
  • Logical intelligence - mathematics . They are people with a great capacity for reasoning. They are very good at finding common ground between various ideas, as well as organizing them into models. Your preferred way of learning is through the deduction of information.
  • Interpersonal intelligence . People with high scores on this intelligence are able to work well as a team, understand others and communicate effectively with them. With a social learning style, they acquire information better if they can collaborate with other colleagues.
  • Intrapersonal intelligence . Finally, people with a high intrapersonal intelligence are able to understand themselves and their emotions, as well as manage them easily. Their learning style is solitary, that is, they learn better on their own, without the intervention of other people.
  • Naturalist intelligence . It is the ability to know the environment, animals, know how they work and interact with them.

Model by David Kolb

David Kolb's model of learning styles is based on his theory of experiential learning, published in 1984. The basic idea behind both theories is that learning can be measured on the basis of two poles.

The first one is that of concrete experience vs. the logical abstraction. When we are learning something, we can do it based on concrete experiences that we have, or based on our own ideas and reflections.

On the other hand, the second pole is that of reflexive observation vs. active experimentation. While some people simply observe the world around them and try to fit what they see in their mental schemes, others prefer to try new actions that allow them to confirm or discard their theories.

Although Kolb's model began with the idea that all people are capable of using the four learning styles at a given time, he later realized that each of us tends to use a way of acquiring knowledge. Thus, I create four categories, one for each of the learning styles of your model:

  • Divergent style . Formed by people who prefer to rely on their concrete experiences rather than on their thoughts, and on observation rather than experimentation. They tend to be quite sensitive, and they use their imagination very well, so they are experts in observing a specific situation from different

This style gets its name referring to the theory of divergent thinking. This theory defends that while most people only see a direct solution to each problem, some are able to think differently and generate new ideas.

People with divergent learning styles are usually very creative, with a great interest in acquiring knowledge, and skilled in the arts. They also like to work as a team and learn about different points of view.

  • Assimilating style . The people in this group prefer to rely on their own reflections rather than on concrete experiences. Later, they will test them by observing the world instead of experimenting with them.

Those belonging to this learning style usually feel more comfortable if they are given a good logical explanation about any phenomenon. In this sense, ideas and concepts are especially important to them, and they are capable of acquiring and organizing large amounts of information.

In general, people with assimilative learning style do not worry too much about others, preferring instead abstract ideas. They do not usually seek the utility of their ideas, but the internal logic and pure knowledge.

These types of people tend to specialize in scientific and information fields, where they can develop their own theories.

  • Convergent style . Formed by people who prefer to rely on their own thoughts and ideas, then put them to the test in the real world. In this sense, they seek the best way to act in the world through reflection.

His main concern is the acquisition of practical knowledge. They are more oriented to Problem resolution or technical tasks that social issues or interpersonal relationships. They tend to be very good at tasks related to technology.

  • Adapter style . The last of the learning styles is formed by people who prefer to rely on concrete experiences to draw conclusions, and then put them to the test by experimenting in the real world.

Ushers tend to prefer to rely on their feelings and in his instinct instead of logical reflection. They also prefer to adopt a practical approach, thinking that information should serve to solve problems instead of as an end in itself. This style is the most widespread in the population, according to the author of the model.

VARK model

The VARK model (for its acronym in English"Visual, Auditory, Reading and Kinesthetic) is a theory of learning based on the work of Walter Barbe, and later expanded by students of Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP).

The basic idea is that each person has a predominant sense, which he uses more frequently to acquire information and relate to the world. Initially, only three possibilities were contemplated (sight, hearing and emotions and sensations), but later reading was added as a fourth learning style.

Although the model also serves to explain certain differences in personality Among the people who adopt each of the styles, nowadays it is mainly used to study the way in which each one of them absorbs the information better.

The four learning styles of this model are the following:

  • Visual . People with this learning style acquire better knowledge if they are helped by images, graphics or schemes.
  • Auditory . Those who adopt this style learn better if they can listen to the information told by another person, or transmit it themselves out loud. Its main learning tool is the oral repetition of information.
  • Reader. People who adopt this style of learning, the last to join the model, prefer to write and read the information to memorize it better. They are able to organize abstract ideas into coherent texts, and they usually have a great reading ability.
  • Kinesthetic . This word of Greek origin refers to a better relationship with the body than normal. Kinesthetic people learn through their own experience and emotions; they prefer tasks that have to do with movement, and they are excellent in areas that require manual dexterity.

Cognitive model

In 1974, psychologists Anthony Grasha and Sheryl Riechmann developed this model of learning styles. They were based on the idea that each person processes information in different ways.

Unlike other models, the authors of this one divided learning styles into adaptive and non-adaptive. In this way, they developed a test to determine the learning style of each person, so that they could help him change it if he was not among the positives.

The six styles contemplated in this theory are the following:

  • Competitive . Competitive people acquire knowledge to be better than others. They believe that they have to overcome the rest to get a reward, which can be more attention, a better job...
  • Collaborative . On the contrary, students with a collaborative style prefer to learn through an exchange of knowledge and ideas. They prefer to work in groups and debate with the rest.
  • Avoidative . This style is typical of people who would prefer not to have to learn, and therefore make the minimum effort necessary to acquire new knowledge.
  • Participatory . They are people who like to collaborate with the teacher to get as much knowledge as possible. They tend to try to be an active part of the learning process.
  • Dependent . Typical of students who prefer to learn only what is necessary to pass the course, or to acquire a certain certification. They see teachers as reference figures that tell them what they have to learn.
  • Independent . These are students who prefer to learn for themselves. Although they can work as a team and listen to the ideas of their teachers and peers, they like to be on their own and choose what they will learn.


This model of learning styles is based on the work of the National Association of Institutional Directors (NASSP). In the 1980s, they carried out several researches on the different styles of learning in order to create more efficient and effective educational programs.

The researchers divided learning styles into 3 dimensions and 31 variables, which served to classify students in different groups. In this way, the idea was that they would be able to adapt their teaching method to the needs of each student.

This model was based on a large amount of previous research, as for example in the VARK model, in theories of motivation, and even in psychobiological theories about the circadian rhythm of people.

The model is based on individual differences in three different dimensions:

  • Cognitive dimension . It refers to the way in which each person perceives the world and information, in addition to their preferred way of organizing it and creating a relationship between the different data that it acquires.
  • Affective dimension . This dimension has to do with the motivational styles of each person, that is, how he manages to self-manage his emotions to perform the learning task.
  • Physiological dimension . The last dimension refers to the biological basis that causes differences in learning styles, such as differences between sexes, or those caused by the quality of food, exercise and rest of each person. It also has to do with how the environment affects each one.

In this sense, the developers of the NASSP model were among those who took the most factors into account when creating their theory. Today, the test created by them is still used to determine the best way to educate students, especially in the United States.


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  5. "Kolb Learning Styles"in: Simply Psychology. Retrieved on: January 31, 2018 from Simply Psychology:
  6. "Learning Style Diagnostics"in: eLearning Industry. Retrieved on: January 31, 2018 from eLearning Industry:

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