The Big Difference Is Learning Styles

Teach the WordThis is the big difference . . .

The big difference between the disconnected teacher and the engaging teacher is . . .

knowing who you are.

There are four learning styles that individuals use to absorb new information.

Each teacher tends to be naturally good at learning and teaching in one or two of these styles.

The disconnected teachers don’t know their styles and aren’t connecting with ALL the styles of their audience members.

If this sounds like you . . . it’s not your fault.

Many of us weren’t taught this way when we were in school.

The crazy thing is that it’s SO much easier to teach and be inclusive . . .

Once you know YOUR style, and embrace the others, you connect with your students and they LEARN from you in some really neat ways.

Here’s the BIG concept: You were BORN as one of these styles. Take the Learning Styles quiz now to find your style.

Now that you know WHO you are, here’s how you use it (because knowing
is half the battle):

This is so simple you might miss it, but it is just this simple.

Discover your style. Embrace the styles of others. Succeed.

We’ll get into how to teach each style in a little bit, but first, let’s take a look at the two groupings of people on this quadrant—the left side of the quadrant and the right.

When you divide the quadrant vertically, the left side of the quadrant is where all the “traditional” learners live.

You know . . . the ones who love traditional college classes and lecture. (Hint: a lot of professors live in these quadrants). Here are very common things we see all the time with the “lefties”:

The “Lefties”

  • Thinking . . .
  • Prepared . . .
  • Structured . . .
  • Want to see it first . . .
  • Want to see others do it before they will . . .
  • Like steps and reading . . .
  • Research first, discuss second . . .

The “non-traditional” learners face a whole host of other issues.

These are the very common things we see all the time with the “righties”:

The “Righties”

  • Feeling . . .
  • On the fly . . .
  • Random (or so they seem) . . .
  • Want to create or do it first . . .
  • Want to talk with others right away . . .
  • Like ideas, experiences, concepts . . .
  • Discuss first, research second . . .

Either way, you need to be aware.

You need to know your position on the LS quadrant so you can supplement and cover the rest of your audience’s needs.

The goal of all good teachers is to learn to center yourself so that you can learn to teach to ALL styles of learning, even if you aren’t comfortable with each style.

To teach your content in order to get the attention of everyone in the audience, you have to make sure you address each of the four learning styles:

  • Step Learners
  • Talk Learners
  • Research Learners
  • Create Learners

This learning style model applies to all adults and is based on years of experiential research.

Everyone can learn in all four styles, but not equally well.

Each of the four learning styles is the predominant learning style of approximately one-fourth of the population, and everyone has a secondary learning style as well.

When I presented this theory to a group of educators and business leaders, one individual told me this information would have been enormously helpful to him when his daughter was a young student.

When I described what he instantly recognized as her learning style, he realized she’d had problems in school because that wasn’t the style in which she had been taught.

What’s critical for teachers to understand is that we instinctively teach in the same style in which we learn . . .

which means we are often effective in teaching only the 25 percent of the audience that is in our own learning category.

In our upcoming blogs, we’ll dive into each learning style in particular and look at more specifics on how people with each style learn best and how you can teach people more effectively in each style (even if it’s not natural to you). Then we’ll wrap up with a blog on how to teach ALL FOUR learning styles simultaneously. (So stay tuned!)


Jason Teteak—a WELS member from the Madison, WI, area—is the author of our feature article this month. He is an international public speaking coach and author. As the founder of Rule The Room, a company that specializes in training public speakers, he has trained more than a million people on how to command attention and connect with audiences. He believes that in order to connect with learners, it is important we understand the four basic learning styles and learn to teach in a way that addresses all of those learning styles. In his six-part series for Teach the Word, he will help us understand the four learning styles and help us see how we can apply this understanding as we develop lessons and teach God’s Word. Jason is accustomed to writing for the business world; we think you will like his vibrant style!

An exciting side note: After much prayer, Bible study, and discussion with his wife and pastor friends, Jason has decided to study for the pastoral ministry. He has submitted his application for enrollment and hopes to attend Martin Luther College this fall.