Learning Preferences

What do we mean by learning preferences?

We use the phrase "learning preferences" to refer to a person's characteristic patterns of strengths, weaknesses and preferences in taking in, processing, and retrieving information.

The Baldwin Program helps students explore their learning preferences in order to better understand the strategies and approaches that might be most efficient for specific courses.

An explanation of various preferences...


Learners who prefer this learning style are most comfortable learning by reading. Often, m order to remember new information they must see it written down before they can transfer it to long term memory. They might also be most comfortable expressing the information they know through writing about it.


For these learners, information is most easily processed through hearing it. A strongly auditory learner might read aloud when they reach a particularly difficult part of a written text, and will usually enjoy studying with another person or in a group. Sometimes auditory learners are also most confident and capable when they express their thoughts orally, rather than in writing.


These learners learn best when using pictures, graphs, concept maps, grids, matrices and other visual representations of the information to be learned. Visual learning styles can be very important in subjects such as economics, physics, biology and other sciences (not to mention in art!) These students may need to convert notes from class or readings to concept maps, or they might find it easier to organize a paper if they use a map rather than a traditional linear outline.

Kinesthetic/Tactile Concrete

Kinesthetic learners learn through their whole body: sight, smell, movement, touch, and color all help kinesthetic learners. They will learn best by 'doing:' manipulation of material, hands-on training, application of information to real world situations, creating and manipulating models, color-coding, simulations - the key is moving, touching, doing! Many students combine a preference for kinesthetic learning with another channel, but have never explored using kinesthetic study strategies.


Active learners prefer to learn in the moment, processing information 'on the go'. They often benefit from discussion and studying with others.

Reflective learners prefer to process information internally. They generally take in information and spend time thinking it through before feeling comfortable joining a discussion or group. Reflective learners are often quiet in class discussions, and might benefit from learning ways to participate more actively in class.

If you feel that you might benefit from learning more about your own approaches to learning you can make an appointment with a mentor by e-mailing us at: baldwinc@bowdoin.edu