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Learning mechanisms
Learning mechanisms
Richard Felder and Linda Silverman found that most people are primarily receptive to one specific type of intellectual stimulation or learning mechanism. They discovered four dimensions of learning, each with two opposite poles, with most people tending towards one or the other.

The pure cases uncovered by the researchers were the following: sensory and intuitive, visual and verbal, active and reflective, and sequential and global. Sensory learners prefer concrete and practical information; they have a tendency to focus on facts and to look at how systems actually work. Intuitive learners focus on concepts and theories, they prefer to understand the mechanisms based on which a system functions and have a tendency to look for meaning.

The second dimension opposes visual and verbal learners. The former tend to memorize pictures, graphs and diagrams, and learn much more efficiently when using visual representations. Verbal learners on the other hand remember words that they hear of read, they learn through verbal explanations. Active learners are ones that require interactions and manipulation to learn, they often enjoy working in groups and conducting experiments. Reflective learners, on the other hand, need to think things through and learn by individual analysis.

Finally, sequential learners are more receptive to well structured and linearly presented information, they put together the details to understand the big picture. On the other hand global learners prefer systemic and holistic approaches; they see the big picture first and then fill in the details.

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