While we all know that learning is crucial for development, it is also a fact that learners learn in varying styles. From being auditory learners to even being kinesthetic, there are a few people who prefer to learn visually.
How would you know whether you are a visual learner or not? If you love to understand by the picture medium, and you understand and remember things by sight, Chances are that visual learning is your preferred way!
However, that’s not just it; there are various characteristics that these individuals possess. This post will take you through those various attributes and also, why they are more inclined towards reading and learning visually.
What is visual learning? Is it limited to the task of observation?
The process of visual learning can be defined as the assimilation of information through visual modalities. The visual information could be presented in different formats which could involve images, flowcharts, diagrams, cartoons, videos, presentations, movies, etc.
This learning style comes into use when the individual observes and identifies a stimulus, processes the information, and associates it with ideas, words, concepts, and images in the brain, leading to retention of information.
It was observed through a research study that individuals with visual learning tend to have a lower cognitive load; that is, the step of information processing through visual modalities is comparatively simpler than other learning styles.
For Example: If an individual with a visual learning style experiences their car break down, then learning through an instruction-based video will help them understand the process more effectively and efficiently as compared to getting verbal instructions from a mechanic or any other person.
Distinct characteristics of a Visual Learner
As discussed above, there are different characteristics aiding individualistic learning, depending upon their pace and learning style. Similarly, there are unique features that make an individual a visual learner. Moreover, it is easier for visual learners to focus their attention on minute details, and remember names with a high imaginative quotient, to say the least. Enlisted below are some of the characteristics of such individuals :
1. Highly Observant
Individuals with visual learning styles tend to be more observant and have high attention to detail characteristics. They associate information with their observations to learn and grasp.
For example, A visual learner will be able to recognize an individual much more quickly, if they have associated their name with their observable features, like their hairstyle, color of their clothing, what they were eating, etc.
2. Great sense of balance and alignment
The vestibular system of the human body is responsible for balance in our body. This is closely associated with the visual system of our body. Thus, individuals with enhanced visual learning tend to have better physical and perceptual balance.
Visual learners tend to be meticulous; that is, they show great attention to detail. Moreover, these individuals are extensively organised as they perceive and process information visually. Thus, without a clear view of their belongings or associated items, or even notes for that matter, it would create chaotic visual imagery for them, barring any learning.
For example, Visual learners prefer to take notes in an outlined and organised manner that compartmentalized their information under the important headings for quick review.
4. Color oriented
Being color-oriented is another characteristic of a visual learner where the individual prefers to color-code their surroundings which could involve color coding their clothes in the closet to better learn their arrangement or color-coding their academic notes for better retention.
5. Perceives images as a whole
Visual learners are the individuals who indulge more in viewing the complete picture as this allows them to create imagery out of it. This improves and helps them with perception and comprehension, which thus helps in enhancing learning.
For example — A visual learner would like to see the artist perform rather than hear a narrative about it. This is because of the simple fact that they like to see the body language, or the expressions, rather than just hearing about it.
6. Higher Motivational Drive
While a non-visual learner might struggle to learn a subject due to the monotony of the information, it is easier for a visual learner to stay motivated for longer periods of time, as they tend to associate that information with mental imagery, and learn it through self-made infographics, understand the same concepts through videos.
7. Good Sense of direction
When visual learners view the object, and where exactly it has been placed, they become more aware and can explain the directions better. This gives an edge over their skills of spatial understanding and visualization of the directions as well.
For example: When a visual learner goes out for a drive, they can recognize and memorize the directions just by retaining the image of the buildings, trees, and whatever objects come in the way.
8. Detailed Note-taking
Visual learners can be exceptionally creative and excellent at note-taking. They are quite precise, yet organized. Moreover, when they view these notes, later on, they can retain that information for a much longer period.
9. Expressive through art
Individuals with visual learning styles also tend to have a knack for expressions. They explain their content better through presentations, flowcharts, and other visual methods.
For example, Visual learners are found to be inclined towards professions that support expression through visual aids like fashion, arts, architecture, etc.
10. Developed comprehension skills
People who employ visual learning tend to have more capacity for absorbing and processing information. This helps them stimulate imagination and provides them with better understanding, thus comprehension skills.
For Example, A student with a visual learning style will be able to understand the anatomy of the frog in detail and comprehend its function effectively, if they have had a practical view of it.
Strategies for better visual learning
While the above-mentioned characteristics may be innate to an individual with a visual learning style, however, there are several strategies that can be used by the teacher and employed by students at the academic level to help enhance their learning and empower the skills used in visual learning. These could be:
Strategies for Students
Visual learners can benefit from the use of flashcards by either drawing or writing certain clues of the content to be memorized and then try to retrieve the information based on the visual cues in the flashcards.
Traditional ways of note-taking can be improvised by using maps, graphs, and flowcharts to build upon the visual aids of the information, helping memorize the content more effectively and efficiently.
Use applications and websites that can help in converting monotonous written information into visual form through pictures, animations, and flowcharts, and employ methods of revision based on similar lines.
- Color Coding
Since one of the characteristic features of visual learners is to be color-oriented, it would make sense to use color-coding during note-taking and highlight the important information. This would help in easier processing of the information, avoiding any overload and effective memorization.
Strategies for Teachers
Acquaint oneself with books that help in gaining insight about visual learners and what helps them the best. Teachers can employ books that are visually enhanced to aid the learning of visual learners.
- Infographics and Visual Aids
Use visual aids like puzzles, infographics, visual games, and more to help engage younger students. In fact break the monotony of traditional learning amongst the older students, while enhancing the visual stimulus to improve their learning.
It is a wise strategy to keep students motivated toward learning. Here, pre-planning a day’s schedule and listing it on the board for the students to refer to visually, will allow them to check what’s done, keep them excited for what’s coming, and thus help them stay engaged.
- Use Handouts
One of the most effective teaching strategies for visual learners is to use handouts of concise information. This creates an impactful image in the minds of the learners.
Visual Learning Style has been regarded as one of the most efficient learning styles. Many famous personalities have been known to produce extensively creative and renowned work. Having said that, there are innumerable advantages to the visual learning style and it is important to identify, recognize and work on the learning style of an individual. This can help in making sure that the initial years of the person don’t turn out to be struggle-based learning. Therefore, this post aims to help by sharing a few insights about the features of visual learners, and strategies that can be used to enhance their productivity and improve their learning.
An engineer, Maths expert, Online Tutor and animal rights activist. In more than 5+ years of my online teaching experience, I closely worked with many students struggling with dyscalculia and dyslexia. With the years passing, I learned that not much effort being put into the awareness of this learning disorder. Students with dyscalculia often misunderstood for having just a simple math fear. This is still an underresearched and understudied subject. I am also the founder of Smartynote -‘The notepad app for dyslexia’,