CPG Basics: Understanding Learning Styles

In the ideal training session, the goal is for the learners to feel motivated, more engaged, and less overwhelmed while receiving your instruction. However, if the trainees are not picking up on the material, you may be experiencing a clash in learning styles and may need to realign how you are administering the information. So, how do you know what learning method works best for your audience? What are the different learning styles and how should you adjust your training to cater to those preferences? Below are some tips to help you address the different learning styles for a more successful training delivery.

Types of Learning Styles

To have an effective training program, you must first understand the different ways people learn and adapt and then design the training to complement the varying learning styles. There are three main types of learning styles: visual, auditory, and kinesthetic. Although we can learn in all three ways, most people have a preference for one of these styles over the others.

Visual Learners: See


Visual learners prefer looking at graphics, watching a demonstration, or reading. For these learners, studying charts and graphs is easier to understand but they may have difficulty focusing while listening to an explanation.

To accommodate this learning style, you can show and explain diagrams. Other strategies may include asking them to draw a picture or providing extra material to read after your session. Another helpful tip is to include plenty of content in your handouts.

Auditory Learners: Hear


Auditory learners understand best by listening to the instructor’s explanations and using self-talk. Reciting information out loud and having music in the background may be a common method of retaining information. These type of learners have difficulty following written directions. Auditory learners may prefer lectures, recordings, and/or verbal reviews.

To best engage auditory learners, use lecture, question and answer segments, and discussions. Some strategies may include playing a song to illustrate a point or using background music when appropriate. Auditory learners enjoy having breakout groups to discuss the content and hear the perspectives of others. Also, allow time at the end of the session to summarize your main points and permit additional questions.

Kinesthetic Learners: Do


Kinesthetic learners process information best through a “hands-on” experience. Actually doing an activity can be the easiest way for them to learn. Learning preferences may include being physically active or writing things down.

To motivate kinesthetic learners, use creative activities that get people out of their chairs and doing something interesting. Hold standing discussion groups in the four corners of the room.

People learn in different ways and no one has a better learning style than anyone else. Therefore, it is important to consider all learning styles when developing a training session. There are many different strategies you can apply to incorporate the different learning styles. For example, try creating communication materials that go for each of the three learning styles or use one multimedia piece that uses visuals, audio, text, and interactive moments to reach the different learning groups. The important takeaway is to keep in mind the characteristics of the learning styles in order to effectively tailor your training delivery methods.


Compassion Capital Fund National Resource Center. (2010). Delivering training: Learning styles [Strengthening Non Profits ELearning lesson]. Retrieved from http://strengtheningnonprofits.org/

LearningRX Franchise Corporation. (2003). Brain training: Types of learning styles. Retrieved from http://www.learningrx.com/

Misiewicz, S. (2011). Deliver effective training to suite different learning styles. Retrieved from http://www.slideshare.net/accountsdirect/deliver-training-to-suit-varying-learning-styles

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About the Author:


Cognitive Performance Group, LLC is a woman-owned small business with offices in Orlando, Florida, and Cleveland, Ohio. It was founded by Dr. Karol G. Ross, Jennifer K. Phillips, and William A. Ross. The three CPG Principals developed the concept for a company to support cognitive performance improvement in industry and government. (more...)

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