Have you ever wondered why you do better in some classes than others? Why is it that others absorb information more quickly than you and retain it longer? It may depend on your individual learning style. Your learning style influences the way you understand information and solve problems. Learning style matters because the way you learn might factor into your ability to prepare for professional certifications.
There are three primary learning styles:
Many people use a combination of learning styles, whereas others learn best by using just one. Want to know your learning style?
If you are a visual learner, you learn by reading or seeing pictures. You understand and remember things by sight. You can picture what you are learning in your head, and you learn best by using methods that are primarily visual. You like to see what you are learning.
As a visual learner, you are usually neat and clean. You often close your eyes to visualize or remember something, and you will find something to watch if you become bored. You may have difficulty with spoken directions and may be easily distracted by sounds. You are attracted to color and to spoken language that is rich in imagery. Here are some things that visual learners like you can do improve your learning in a classroom setting:
- Sit near the front of the classroom.
- Have your eyesight checked on a regular basis.
- Use flashcards to learn new words.
- Try to visualize things that you hear or things that are read to you.
- Write down key words, ideas, or instructions.
- Draw pictures to help explain new concepts and then explain the pictures.
- Color code information to help you keep its structure and flow straight in your mind.
- Avoid distractions during study times.
- Remember that you need to see things, not just hear things, to learn well.
If you are an auditory learner, you learn by hearing and listening. You understand and remember things you have heard. You store information by the way it sounds, and you have an easier time understanding spoken instructions than written ones. You often learn by reading out loud because you have to hear it or speak it in order to know it. You probably enjoy audio books as well.
As an auditory learner, you probably hum or talk to yourself or others if you become bored. People may think you are not paying attention, even though you may be hearing and understanding everything being said.
Here are some things that auditory learners like you can do to learn better.
- Sit where you can hear.
- Have your hearing checked on a regular basis.
- Use flashcards to learn new words; read them out loud.
- Read stories, assignments, or directions out loud.
- Record yourself spelling words and then listen to the recording.
- Have test questions read to you out loud.
- Study new material by reading it out loud.
- Remember that you need to hear things, not just see things, in order to learn well.
If you are a tactile learner, you learn by touching and doing. You understand and remember things through physical movement. You are a “hands-on” learner who prefers to touch, move, build, or draw what you learn. You tend to learn better when some type of physical activity is involved. You may have difficulty sitting still or need to be active and take frequent breaks. You might often speak with your hands.
As a tactile learner, you like to take things apart and put things together, tending to find reasons to tinker or move around when you become bored. You may be very well coordinated and have good athletic ability. You can easily remember things that were done but may have difficulty remembering what you saw or heard in the process. You often communicate by touching, and you appreciate physically expressed forms of encouragement, such as a pat on the back.
Improving your learning as a tactile learners might involve the following:
- Participate in activities that involve touching, building, moving, or drawing.
- Do lots of hands-on activities like completing art projects, taking walks, or acting out stories.
- It’s okay to chew gum, walk around, or rock in a chair while reading or studying.
- Use flashcards and arrange them in groups to show relationships between ideas.
- Trace words with your finger to learn spelling (finger spelling).
- Take frequent breaks during reading or studying periods (frequent, but not long).
- It’s okay to tap a pencil, shake your foot, or hold on to something while learning.
- Use a computer to reinforce learning through the sense of touch.
- Remember that you learn best by doing, not just by reading, seeing, or hearing.
Find out which learning style you are:
There are plenty of online quizzes to help you determined what style you are. Here are a few I have found useful:
There are also 7 distinct intelligences, according to a theory by Howard Gardner of Harvard. Gardner says that these differences “Challenge an educational system that assumes that everyone can learn the same materials in the same way and that a uniform, universal measure suffices to test student learning. Indeed, as currently constituted, our educational system is heavily biased toward linguistic modes of instruction and assessment and, to a somewhat lesser degree, toward logical-quantitative modes as well.” Gardner argues that “A contrasting set of assumptions is more likely to be educationally effective. Students learn in ways that are identifiably distinctive. The broad spectrum of students – and perhaps the society as a whole – would be better served if disciplines could be presented in a numbers of ways and learning could be assessed through a variety of means.” Find out more on this subject here.
Knowing your learning style goes beyond work and a classroom setting. Sharing your learning style with others in your life (i.e. trainers, supervisors, and family members) can help them and help you succeed. If others in your life realize that you learn and retain information a certain way, they can change their communication with you to match that style and then in turn have better communication overall. Maybe you won’t forget to pick up that milk on the way home if you are shown the empty milk container instead of just being told about it (for visual learners). Can’t hurt to try!
Danielle Requa has been with IASA Global for over three years as the Education Manager. Danielle is responsible for implementing and delivering global training deployments. She has a genuine passion for creating, scheduling, and managing training activities to provide the foundation needed for IASA members’ individual growth and professional success.