What is Visual Learning?

The way we perceive information varies across individuals; each person interprets stimuli in their own way. Because these differences are so vast, it alters the way we learn. Our learning can be visual, auditory, semantic or kinaesthetic.

  • Visual – where the learner utilises graphic aids. The list includes, but is not exhaustive of; diagrams, images, charts and mental visualisation.
  • Auditory – these learners depend on listening and speaking as a way of processing and understanding information.
  • Semantic – this is learning based on solid comprehension; building awareness through utilising prior knowledge.
  • Kinaesthetic – often referred to as tactile learning, is where an individual must carry out physical activities to learn.

If we take a closer look at visual processing, we can highlight a few traits of these learners. A key trait is having to see something to remember it, or having trouble remembering verbal instructions. They may also have difficulty in recalling someone’s name if they don’t see them often; due to them not having the reinforced visual association.

what is visual learning

What are the advantages of Visual Learning?

It is believed that those who have strengths in visual processing have the ability to see the bigger picture. When presented with a complex situation, visual learners have a wider perspective and a larger imagination. With the standpoint of today’s society, in terms of artificial intelligence and virtual reality etc., visual learners are becoming an asset. The knack for having a broader outlook is extremely beneficial in understanding and applying various concepts.

Visual learning challenges academically gifted students; as 90% of the information transmitted to the brain is visual, it’s worthwhile to consider this learning style. The increased engagement that comes with visual learning can also provide new opportunities for students with learning difficulties.

Although previously discussed in its own right, kinaesthetic learning will increase processing even further if used in conjunction with graphic means. Using hands and arms will improve retention on top of the 40% increase from visual learning alone. Muscle memory is stored in a different part of the brain, aiding the preservation of information.

One key way to support this learning style is through mind-mapping. This is a great tool where information is well organised and memorable due to the inclusion of colour and shapes. The brain recognises the content as visual, which increases comprehension. Mind-mapping enables meaningful learning, alongside its advantages in memorisation and retention. This makes complex issues easier to understand due to its logical layout.

How to mind map effectively?

  1. Centre the map with the main topic of study
  2. Branch off with other important ideas that are directly related
  3. Ensure you use keywords and phrases for the idea headline
  4. Expand on these points using the text boxes instead of the title