Woman with thoughts

It is estimated that 2/3 of us think more in words & logic and 1/3 think more in images & concepts.

It’s useful to know which of these camps you are in so that you can help yourself to succeed when studying or trying to learn something new. Knowing your type becomes even more important when someone of the other type is trying to teach you!

When learning styles clash

Many teachers think logically and sequentially (it’s that very skill that helped them complete their training). But they then often misinterpret a global thinker, who has trouble doing sequential tasks (like they can), as having a learning deficiency.

I still remember that school English assignment when I put in extra effort to answer it how I thought the teacher wanted… but was still marked ‘wrong’.

I was lucky that I was quite young when I first realized that I think differently to my teachers. I know many intelligent adults who still think that they are ‘dumb’ merely because they didn’t fit the ‘typical’ school way of learning.


Learning styles as rules of thumb

“I’ve never been able to figure out why my husband can never find what he’s looking for when he opens the kitchen utensil drawer. He just rummages around in the drawer and looks distressed because he can’t get his hands on the spatula he’s looking for. Then I walk over, take one look at the drawer, and pick out the spatula quickly and easily. I can scan a dense visual field (like my kitchen drawer) and quickly pick out an essential visual design (like the outline of the spatula). My husband, on the other hand, is not going to find that spatula until he gets his hands on it.”
— via Suzanne C. Miller

There are a range of theories on the different styles of learning. And each has their champions and detractors.

Everyone seems to agree that we learn using different styles at different times, but there are some styles that we tend to turn to more often. Once we know what these are, we can take action so that they help us instead of battling against them.

“Learning styles reflect preferences and tendencies; they are not infallible indicators of strengths or weaknesses.”
Richard M Felder & Joni Spurlin


Take the learning style quizLearning quiz screenshot

So the question we all have is, “which learning styles work best for me?”

While it’s hard to beat your favorite “which Disney princess are you?” quiz, we thought we’d try…

Take the short Learning Style quiz to discover your learning style and what actions will make learning easier for you.  It is adapted with permission from the Felder-Soloman Index of Learning Styles.


InsightNG uses learning styles to help your thinking

Learning styles remind us that using a mixture of approaches makes learning more effective.

We took that on board in the design of our InsightNG Web app to help bring you greater clarity when trying to learn new concepts:

  • For visual-global learners – you can add random thoughts to your ‘thought canvas’ then start making connections to uncover patterns
  • For verbal-sequential learners – you can start in one spot and build up your thoughts step-by-step in a logical organization.

InsightNG is currently free for life until 31 December 2015.


About Douglas Campbell

Douglas spends a galling amount of time thinking about metadata and helping people find the information they need. Previously he has designed and product-managed search systems for national institutions in New Zealand. He is now working deep down in the nitty-gritty, developing our machine intelligence engine.