Learning Modalities: Understanding Learning Styles of All Students

Learning Modalities: Understanding Learning Styles of All Students
The Editorial Team September 8, 2012

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Not all students learn in the same way. All students have varying talents, and these talents determine each student’s learning style. In academic circles, these individual talents and preferences are known as learning modalities. Below are the primary learning modalities most teachers will encounter during their teaching careers.


Students with a naturalist learning style enjoy viewing and examining the natural phenomena, such as animals, growing things and weather patterns. When learning, they like to ask questions, perform experiments and investigate things they don’t understand with a hands-on approach.


Students with intrapersonal learning styles are intrinsically motivated. They enjoy working independently, require time alone, and like peace and quiet. Intrapersonal learners prefer to investigate new ideas on their own terms.


A student with an interpersonal learning modality prefers to interact with his or her fellow learners. He or she cares about what other people think and likes to be around others. Interpersonal learners are typically very social and learn best from cooperative experiences like group projects and interactive games.

Bodily Kinesthetic

Students with bodily kinesthetic intelligence are highly in tune with their physical bodies. They process knowledge through touch and sensation and tend to use gestures when communicating with others. Kinesthetic learners assimilate new knowledge best when they are able to touch and manipulate objects. They also enjoy building and repairing things, physical games and role-playing.

Spatial/ Visual

Students with spatial learning modalities are most comfortable visualizing concepts. They like to draw, do jigsaw puzzles, and complete mazes. They may also enjoy designing and building models. When teaching students with visual or spatial intelligence, some of the most effective tools are charts, maps, diagrams, slides and videos.


A student with musical intelligence learns best through melody, rhythm and tones. They remember songs well and may use music to remember other things as well. Such students enjoy playing musical instruments and listening for nonverbal sounds in the environment around them.


Students with logical or mathematical intelligence like to think conceptually. They use clear reasoning and look for relationships and patterns. A student with a logical learning modality learns best when they can test things and conduct experiments. They also enjoy categorizing and classifying.


A student with linguistic intelligence prefers to verbalize while learning. He or she is good at remembering trivia, lyrics, verses and other verbal information. Linguistically inclined students also enjoy reading books, playing word games, listening to others and discussing complex issues.

Classifying students based on their learning modalities can help teachers structure lessons to meet different needs in a diverse classroom. Students may not always fall into just one category, so writing lesson plans that use multiple teaching strategies may be necessary. Taking the time to determine students’ learning preferences and tailoring lessons so that they speak to every student can meet their needs on a deeper level.

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