How to Identify the Learning Styles of Your Adult Students

Posted by on April 26th, 2016

Every individual has a learning style that works best for them. Identifying and understanding the learning styles of your adult students will help you tailor lessons that appeal to them. Several learning styles have been identified and introduced over the years. Among the three most recognized learning styles are: auditory, kinesthetic and visual. There are specific ways to adapt your lessons for each learning style.



Auditory refers to learners who prefer to hear information being presented. Auditory learners remember what they say and what others say very well. However, they are easily distracted by noise. Verbal repetition is a strong memory tool for auditory learners. To best reach your auditory learners, be sure to:

  • Ensure they are in a position to hear well. Close proximity to instructor or sound is helpful.
  • Vary the speed, tone and volume of your lecture delivery.
  • Allow for group discussion and dialogue regarding ideas.
  • Include multimedia components that include sound: speeches, music, recordings, etc.
  • Eliminate (or minimize) non-related sounds and noises. Avoid long periods of working in silence.



Kinesthetic learners absorb information best through movement associated with skills or tasks. The opportunity to physically handle learning materials and complete hands-on activities are helpful for kinesthetic learners. They are more likely to remember content that they experience with their hands or bodies. Effective strategies for reaching kinesthetic learners include:

  • Allowing learners to use a computer.
  • Permit students to stand or move when learning new information.
  • Encourage your students to take notes during instruction.
  • Incorporate tactile activities into the class: manipulatives, active demonstrations, product samples, etc.



Visual learners process information best when they are able to see what they are learning. Photographs, illustrations and other graphics work well for visual learners. Timelines, graphic organizers and diagrams are also effective tools for these learners. As you teach to learners with a visual learning style, consider adding the following elements to your instruction:

  • Provide interesting visual material in lots of formats.
  • Include notes and outlines for materials.
  • Use a variety of visual technologies: computers, videos, presentations, internet, overhead projectors and photography, etc.
  • Make hand-outs, worksheets and other material visually appealing.


Taking time to get to know your students’ learning styles will allow you to create effective lessons and messaging. Your lessons should target each learning style during a session. It may be necessary to convey the same information using multiple approaches. By communicating important material to students through a delivery that matches their specific learning style, you are increasing the likelihood of students’ understanding, retention and success.


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