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Last updated on 2/21/22

Explore your various intelligences and learning styles

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The diversity of intelligence

As we have seen, a fixed mindset sees intelligence as predetermined, but it also considers only a certain type. Again, this has to do with the ideas behind the IQ model, which focuses on two of our multiple intelligences: the logical-mathematical and the verbal-linguistic.

In contrast, I want to introduce you to the theory of multiple intelligences developed by Howard Gardner at Harvard University. According to this theory, intelligence is not of one type, but of at least seven different ones:

  • logical and mathematical

  • verbal and linguistic

  • visual and spatial

  • physical and natural

  • musical and rhythmic

  • interpersonal

  • intrapersonal

La théorie des intelligences multiples apporte de la nuance au QI comme seule représentation de l'intelligence
The theory of multiple intelligences puts into perspective the fact that IQ provides a limited view of intelligence.

Learning styles

Just as we all have different kinds of intelligences, we also have different preferred learning styles. These are the ways we are used to learning, or the ways we learn most easily. We can distinguish between seven different learning styles:

  • Visual

  • Auditory

  • Linguistic

  • Practical

  • Reflexive

  • Social

  • Logical-Theoretical

You will usually combine these styles when you’re learning, but some styles may be more effective or natural for you than others. Recognizing your preferred learning style is helpful so that you can be as effective as possible in your learning.

Learning methods

It’s also helpful to explore various learning methods. A learning method is a specific process or learning activity; while a learning style refers to the type of learning involved in the activity. Below (and linked here as a PDF) is a list of 71 learning methods, organized by some learning styles. This list was adapted from The Self-Directed Learning Handbook by Maurice Gibbons. It should be very helpful throughout your learning practice.

71 Learning Methods

Styles: Social (S) / Reflexive (R) / Theoretical (T) / Practical (P)

(S) ❏ Learn by being told—through lessons, lectures and presentations.

(T) ❏ Learn by being shown—from examples, demonstrations and models.

(T) ❏ Learn from an online or distance education course.

(R) ❏ Learn by observing intensely.

(T) ❏ Learn by studying books or other print resources.

(S) ❏ Learn by asking someone what you want to know.

(T) ❏ Learn by searching the Internet.

(P) ❏ Learn by imitating a skilled performance.

(P) ❏ Learn by practising repeatedly, especially coached practise.

(R) ❏ Learn by mentally rehearsing.

(P) ❏ Learn by seeking direct experiences.

(P) ❏ Learn by conducting an experiment.

(P) ❏ Learn by taking action in the field, by doing it.

(S) ❏ Learn by working co-operatively with others as a team.

(S) ❏ Learn by teaching someone else.

(R) ❏ Learn by teaching yourself.

(T) ❏ Learn by studying media: videos, CDs, tapes and DVDs.

(P) ❏ Learn by preparing a public presentation.

(S) ❏ Learn by working or studying with a mentor.

(P) ❏ Learn by trial and error.

(P) ❏ Learn by dramatisation, by acting it out.

(T) ❏ Learn by grouping, categorising and clarifying.

(T) ❏ Learn by forming concepts based on evidence and reason.

(T) ❏ Learn by creating conceptual maps of relationships among items or ideas.

(R) ❏ Learn by picturing—by seeing and recalling things that are.

(R) ❏ Learn by visualising—by imagining things that might be.

(T) ❏ Learn by thinking metaphorically: link the known to the unknown.

(T) ❏ Learn about ideas by connecting them to what you already know.

(R) ❏ Learn from failure how not to fail; from success, how to succeed.

(P) ❏ Learn from simulations.

(P) ❏ Learn by taking a job that requires the performance you seek.

(R) ❏ Learn by thinking for yourself—forming opinions, reaching conclusions.

(R) ❏ Learn intuitively: discover what you know instinctively.

(S) ❏ Learn by competing with others.

(S) ❏ Learn by playing spontaneously or in games.

(R) ❏ Learn from observing yourself: your thoughts, emotions and actions.

(P) ❏ Learn by striving to achieve an ambitious goal.

(R) ❏ Learn from reflection and contemplation in solitude.

(P) ❏ Learn from travel—new places, new people, new activities.

(P) ❏ Learn by doing what has moral value (for example, helping others).

(S) ❏ Learn by seeking feedback from others about your performance.

(R) ❏ Learn by keeping a working journal of ideas, plans and reflections.

(R) ❏ Learn from a model of outstanding performance.

(P) ❏ Learn by developing effective processes for getting things done.

(P) ❏ Learn by challenging yourself to reach a new level of performance.

(S) ❏ Learn by immersing yourself in an environment / community.

(T) ❏ Learn by taking notes and organising them.

(R) ❏ Learn by writing an essay or a blog post.

(P) ❏ Learn by faking it until you make it.

(P) ❏ Learn by pursuing a badge.

(S) ❏ Unlearn through therapy.

(S) ❏ Learn by playing a video game or a board-game.

(T) ❏ Learn by attending conferences and events.

(P) ❏ Learn by making a YouYube video of your performance.

(R) ❏ Unlearn by questioning your mental models.

(T) ❏ Learn by drawing an info-graphic.

(T) ❏ Learn by creating a 3D construction (Lego/clay/origami/etc).

(P) ❏ Learn by creating a portfolio.

(S) ❏ Learn by organising a study group.

(P) ❏ Learn by designing specific practise targeted at a micro-skill.

(R) ❏ Learn by monitoring your behaviour and reflecting on it.

(P) ❏ Learn by using a mobile app.

(P) ❏ Learn by recording (video/audio) your performance.

(R) ❏ Learn by creating symbols (jewels, clothes, words, images).

(R) ❏ Learn by encoding info/behaviours into acronyms, design of space or rituals.

(P) ❏ Learn by expressing through movement and dance.

(T) ❏ Learn by visiting a museum, science center or exposition.

(P) ❏ Learn by creating digital media (photo, video, illustration, animation, etc).

(R) ❏ Learn by reading fiction or watching a movie.

(P) ❏ Learn by going through a shocking experience (firewalking, skydiving, etc.).

(P) ❏ Unlearn by using feedback devices/sensors.

In practice

Use the list of 71 learning methods to identify:

  • Eight methods that you know are most effective for you;

  • Five methods that you have never used but that you feel excited to try out; and

  • Three methods that you have never used and that you feel challenged to try out.

Second, choose one method from each of the three lists above. Use each method to learn one relatively simple thing that you find fun, like learning to make a soufflé, learning a new card trick or learning the lyrics from a song. This will imply that you learn three things with three different methods. By doing this, you’ll understand better what a learning method is and what works for you.

Use your lists when you design your learning plan later on the course.


  • The theory of multiple intelligences reveals diversity among the ways we can grow and develop.

  • We combine various learning styles when we learn and can benefit from recognising our learning style preferences.

  • Explore a variety of learning methods to make learning more fun and as effective as possible.

Example of certificate of achievement
Example of certificate of achievement