The Definition of the Visual Learning Style

Color-coded diagrams are great tools for visual learners.

Learning styles are a way of grouping the characteristics of how people learn best. Most people use a combination of learning styles, often with one being more prominent than the others. The visual learning style is also referred to as the visual-spatial style. People who favor this style prefer to use colors, images, maps, charts and graphs to communicate and organize information.

1 Language Indicators

Instructions with diagrams and drawings are perfect for this learning style.

People who prefer the visual learning style often use phrases that provide clues to their preference: "I'll look into it," "Let's see what we can do," "I can't really picture it," "Do you see my point," I'd like another viewpoint," "What do you envision?" They talk about the world and the problems they are trying to solve in visual terms. These are people who would like to be shown, rather than told, how to do something.

2 Visual Aids

A diagram in color is worth at least 1,000 words.

Organization for visual learners ideally involves a lot of color-coding and an open system in which things are kept in view. Often visual people forget things exist when they are filed safely away; for visual learners "out of sight, out of mind" is a true statement. Visual people doodle, draw diagrams to understand and explain, and rely on color to keep themselves interested and organized. Maps, charts, diagram, photos and other images make information more understandable and memorable for those with a visual learning style.

3 Spatial Sense

Strong visual learners also have good spatial awareness. They are usually excellent map readers. They understand where things fit into a space in relation to other things and use this skill for design work of all kinds, such as architecture, and navigation. The are also good photographers and draftsmen. They rarely get lost, have a natural sense of direction and instinctively know if things will fit together. Visual learners like puzzles in both two and three dimensions, often solving them quite quickly.

4 Memory

Color is a terrific tool for people with a vsual learning style.

Visual learners remember best if they can take notes with words and pictures. They are more likely to forget things they hear if they do not write them down. People who have a visual learning style usually remember faces, but often forget names. They typically think in pictures as well as words and often report dreaming in color. Visual metaphors and highlighting written text in multiple colors are two good learning tools for visual learners.

5 Study Tips

Building three-dimensional models can help visual-spatial learners.

In additional to color-coded highlighting, students with a visual learning style can accelerate their learning by making and using flashcards with picture prompts in addition to words. It is also helpful for visual learners to create charts and diagrams to illustrate key points from lectures. Taking notes, making lists, creating three-dimensional models and mind-maps are other useful tools for visual learning style students, and video reference tools are preferable to audio only. Anything that makes information more visually memorable will help the visual learner.

Paula Swenson is a writer, artist and teacher. She has a degree in communication arts and has worked for NPR, NBC and the NEA. Swenson has been writing about art, business, travel and the English language for over 10 years. She also teaches English to business people and travelers from around the globe.