Auditory-Sequential or Visual-Spatial?

Gifted adults process information in different ways.  Some people learn through words while others prefer pictures, and recognizing the difference may totally change how you understand your giftedness.

Auditory-sequential learners, those who prefer language and text, have a totally different method of arranging and using their world than do visual-spatial learners, those who prefer images and diagrams.  The chart below will help you distinguish the difference.

Some people are equally balanced between the two sides of the spectrum while others fall heavily on one or the other.  Knowing where you fall will help you make the most of your learning experiences.

Take a look:

(information from Linda Kreger Silverman, photo by Buck Jones)
The Auditory-Sequential Learner The Visual-Spatial Learner
Thinks primarily in words Thinks primarily in pictures
Has auditory strengths Has visual strengths
Has visual strengths Has visual strengths
Relates well to time Relates well to space
Is a step-by-step learner Is a whole-part learner
Learns by trial and error Learns concepts all at once
Progresses sequentially from easy to difficult material Learns complex concepts easily; Struggles with easy skills
Is an analytical thinker Is a good synthesizer
Attends well to details Sees the big picture; may miss details
Follows oral directions well Reads maps well
Does well at arithmetic Is better at math reasoning than computation
Learns phonics easily Learns whole words easily
Can sound out spelling words Must visualize words to spell them
Can write quickly and neatly uch better at keyboarding than handwriting
Is well organized Creates unique methods of organization
Can show steps of work easily Arrives at correct solutions intuitively
Excels at rote memorization Learns best by seeing relationships
Has good auditory short-term memory Has good long-term visual memory
May need some repetition to reinforce learning Learns concepts permanently; does not learn by drill and repetition
Learns well from instructions Develops own methods of problem solving
Learns in spite of emotional reactions Is very sensitive to teachers’ attitudes
Is comfortable with one right answer Generates unusual solutions to problems
Develops fairly evenly Develops quite asynchronously (unevenly)
Usually maintains high grades May have very uneven grades
Enjoys algebra and chemistry Enjoys geometry and physics
Masters other languages in classes Masters other languages through immersion
Is academically talented Is creatively, technologically, mechanically, emotionally or spiritually gifted
Is an early bloomer Is a late bloomer
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  • Marfusha

    Well, I am most definitely the second, “Visual-Spatial”.

    I noticed that “Auditory-Sequential” is a way of thinking that really gives an advantage in school. What you described in the first column seems like the ideal person to succeed in this realm, and the “Visual-Spatial” personality seems to have many disadvantages concerning teachers and success, like being unable to identify their train of thinking. It also seems like gifted people with this personality are less likely to be identified. 🙁

  • Sonia Dabboussi

    You are absolutely right, Marfusha. For those people who are balanced between the two or who fall more heavily on the auditory-spatial side, school is an easier thing with good grades coming more easily. For those who are visual-spatial on the other hand, even though they are just as smart and capable as their auditory counterparts, they as often don’t get the recognition they deserve, especially if they’re very much on this side.

    At school you have to show your work, explain your thinking, and be able to tell how you reached your conclusions. But visual people have a harder time explaining how they know what they know because it kind of comes to them all at once. They get the big picture instead of the details leading up to it. And how do you even begin to explain intuition?!

  • Manal

    Have you found any organization/planning type of resources that work for Visual-spatial learners?
    Right now, I switched from notebooks and random papers everywhere to one single huge art sketchbook, and I’m really liking it. Not sure how that helps me organize by subject/category, but now I wonder if I was trying to make myself fit in the typical way of  organizing. Hmm.

  • Britt

    Very informative article!

    I’m definitely a visual-spatial learner and a definitely NOT an auditory-sequential learner.. This was an undiagnosed problem in school (I almost dropped out), and continues to be a problem in the workplace where it is considered more efficient (and less incriminating) to bark instructions at people than to write an email..People assume that you’re not paying attention, and get annoyed at having to repeat instructions to you, so I usually scribble whilst I’m talking to people and I get some disapproving looks cast at me by managers for this.. Remembering phone conversations is near impossible..Is there any way to improve this ability? Or am I doomed to scribble forever?

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