What is my learning style? How to use this in your classes
By Varsity Tutors November 14, 2015 9:32 am
You’ve probably heard of the three primary learning styles: auditory, kinesthetic and visual. Maybe you’ve even given some thought to which learning style fits you best. But what does knowing one’s learning style really mean?
Knowing your learning style is important because it can provide you with insight into how your brain learns new things. Better understanding how your brain works can help you make the best use of the time you spend in your classes, as well as while studying.
Read on to determine your learning style and to identify how to use this knowledge to your advantage in classes:
Do you love listening to music and podcasts? Do you easily remember small bits of information you first heard in a lecture class weeks later? Do you often find yourself mouthing or softly speaking the words that appear on the pages or tablet in front of you when reading?
If you’ve answered “yes” to at least two of these questions, chances are you are likely an auditory learner. This means you retain information best through hearing and speaking about it. You’re very likely to thrive in lecture classes where the primary way information is delivered to you is through your ears.
In class, you can make the most of your auditory learning style by recording lectures on your phone, tablet or laptop — with permission from your professor, of course. After class, upload them into podcasts for yourself so you can listen to them while commuting to campus, walking to class or while at the gym.
While studying, reading your textbooks aloud while playing soft, wordless background music can help you better remember what you’ve read. Similarly, it can be helpful to talk through your homework assignments rather than reading your tasks silently. Auditory learners also tend to benefit from discussing class materials with members of a study group or with a professor during office hours.
Do you enjoy playing sports or staying fit? Do you feel like you remember things better when you’re doodling in class? Do you tend to get antsy when sitting in class?
If you’ve answered “yes” to at least two of these questions, you’re likely a kinesthetic learner. You prefer taking a literal “hands-on” approach when it comes to learning new things. You probably do well in classes that require physical input, such as photography or physics lab.
Maximize your kinesthetic learning style by trying to enroll mostly in classes that both encourage physical input and count toward your degree. In lectures, you can help retain the information you hear by incorporating drawings into your notes. For instance, if your chemistry professor dives into a discussion of the periodic table of elements, boost your memory by drawing something you can easily associate with each element next to its symbol (such as a balloon for H or a clothing iron for Fe).
Study in hour-long study sessions and take physical breaks in between. Going for a 15-minute walk or doing some yoga before getting back to your work can do a lot to help keep you focused. You may also benefit from studying while standing, working out on a machine where you can prop up your notes — a treadmill, elliptical, bike, etc. — or chewing gum.
Do you like to read? Do you direct the majority of your attention to professors’ slideshows — rather than their voices — while in class? Do you keep to-do lists and take detailed notes in class?
If you’ve answered “yes” to at least two of these questions, you’re probably a visual learner. You remember things best when you’ve written them down. You are most likely to excel in classes where information is presented visually.
Use your visual learning style to your advantage in class by sitting in the front row away from windows (there, you are less likely to get sidetracked by visual distractions). Use pens of various colors and highlighters while taking your notes in class to help you stay organized and recognize important new concepts.
When studying, review the notes you’ve taken in class and turn them into new visual study aids such as charts, pictures or maps. Again, use colored pens and highlighters to help organize your visual study aids. Since it requires you to see and read words and phrases, you may also benefit from studying vocabulary and concepts with flashcards.
Erica Cirino is a contributing writer for Varsity Tutors, a live learning platform that connects students with personalized instruction to accelerate academic achievement.