How Your Learning Style Affects Your Use of Mnemonics

The way in which people learn affects the sort of mnemonics they should consider using to store information.

The three main learning styles are:

  • Visual
  • Auditory
  • Kinesthetic

No one uses one of the styles exclusively, and there is usually significant overlap in learning styles.

Visual Learners: Visual learners relate most effectively to written information, notes, diagrams and pictures. Typically they will be unhappy with a presentation where they are unable to take detailed notes.  To an extent, information does not exist for a visual learner unless it has been seen in written form. This is why some visual learners will take notes even when they have printed course notes on the desk in front of them. Visual learners will tend to be most effective in written communication, symbol manipulation, etc.

Visual learners make up around 65% of the population.

Auditory Learners: Auditory learners relate most effectively to the spoken word. They will tend to listen to a lecture, and then take notes afterwards, or rely on printed notes. Often information written down will have little meaning until it has been heard.  It may help auditory learners to read written information out loud. Auditory learners may be sophisticated speakers, and may specialize effectively in subjects like law or politics.

Auditory learners make up about 30% of the population.

Kinesthetic Learners: Kinesthetic learners learn effectively through touch and movement and space, and learn skills by imitation and practice. Predominantly kinesthetic learners can appear slow because information is normally not presented in a style which suits their learning methods.

 Kinesthetic learners make up around 5% of the population.


Memory Implications of Learning Styles:  Most literature on mnemonics assumes the visual approach to learning styles Mnemonics are recommended to be as visually appealing and memorable as possible. If you are an auditory or kinesthetic learner you may find this emphasis on imagery leads to ineffective recall. In this case, try adjusting the mnemonics to suit your learning style: if you are an auditory learner, use auditory cues to create your mnemonics. If you are a kinesthetic learner, imagine performing actions or using tools as the basis of memory techniques.