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Index of Learning Styles

The Index of Learning styles identifies four specific indexes of learning preferences. The following information is based on the research and writings of Richard Felder and Barbara Soloman from North Carolina State University.

Most individual's learning styles can be mapped onto each of the following four scales:

  • From Active to Reflective
  • From Sensing to Intuitive
  • From Visual to Verbal
  • From Sequential to Global

The pairings on each scale exists on a continuum, your style may fall more definitively on one side for a particular scale, and may fall more in the middle for others.

Look for characteristics of your own preferred learning style when reviewing each of the four scales below.


Scale 1: Active to Reflective

Active learners tend to...

  • Retain and understand best by doing, discussing or explaining
  • Take a “Let’s see if it works!” approach to learning
  • Feel negatively about lectures

So they may want to...

  • Look for opportunities to engage in discussion about new material
  • Find ways to DO something with new information

Reflective learners tend to...

  • Retain and understand best by thinking quietly first
  • Think before acting/ look before leaping

So they may want to...

  • Set aside time to reflect on new learning
  • Write summaries of notes

Scale 2: Sensing to Intuitive

Sensing learners tend to...

  • Like learning and memorizing facts and concrete information
  • Prefer solving problems by methods
  • Dislike surprises

So they may want to...

  • Use time management and planning to anticipate surprises
  • Try using variations of flash cards
  • Try connecting new concepts to real world examples

Intuitive learners tend to...

  • Prefer discovering possibilities and relationships
  • Be quick at grasping new concepts
  • Be comfortable with abstract concepts
  • Be fast and creative workers

So they may want to...

  • Be aware that courses heavy in facts or formula may be more challenging
  • Try to make connections with other concepts and courses

Scale 3: Visual to Verbal

Visual learners tend to...

  • Learn best by seeing
  • Find pictures, diagrams, charts, maps, timelines helpful
Most people are visual learners

So they may want to...

  • Use visual mnemonics or icons to add visual elements to notes, flashcards, etc.
  • Use multiple colors of highlighters, ink…
  • Make concept maps or illustrations of verbal information

Verbal learners tend to...

  • Get much learning from written or spoken words
Most college learning is verbal learning

So they may want to...

  • Write or speak about any visual information like charts or diagrams
  • Write summaries or outlines
  • Work in groups

Scale 4: Sequential to Global

Sequential learners tend to...

  • Learn best step-by-step, logically
  • Grasp details first
  • Know lots about details, but struggle relating big concepts to each other

So they may want to...

  • Ask instructor to fill in gaps
  • Outline lecture notes in logical order
  • Work at connecting big concepts logically prior to essay tests

Global learners tend to...

  • Learn most in leaps, struggling until grasping big picture
  • Struggle making small connection between details
  • May solve creatively but not be able to explain solution

So they may want to...

  • Skim chapters for overview before reading details
  • Plan time with larger time blocks for one subject at a time