The term learning styles is used to refer to the approaches that each one of us uses to receive, process, and learn new information. These styles vary from individual to individual. Understanding your learning style can help you become aware of both your strengths and weaknesses in the learning process. A key to successful learning is discovering how you learn best and then applying the recommended study strategies. In addition, you can improve your learning effectiveness by improving upon the strategies that are underutilized. As students, we want to take advantage of our learning style strengths to maximize success in college.
The three main learning styles are auditory, visual, and kinesthetic. Some individuals have developed a preference for one style over another and other individuals, utilizing multiple styles in their learning.
In order to determine your learning style, it is helpful to take a learning styles inventory. The selection of inventories is vast. Once you have chosen and taken an inventory and determined your preference or preferences, view Recommended Study Strategies for Auditory, Visual and Kinesthetic Learners.
Auditory learners learn best by hearing, They tend to do well in lecture-type classes as they can easily remember details of information they hear. They have strong oral communication skills and good listening skills.
Strategies for Auditory Learners
- Read your textbook and lecture notes aloud.
- Tape your classes and listen to them; however, it is important to actively take notes during a lecture as well.
- Read notes into a tape recorder and listen to them.
- Discuss your class material with other students.
- Join study groups.
- When studying talk aloud to yourself.
- Practice putting information in your own words until you can express it clearly.
- Increase your reading comprehension by reading aloud.
- Use rhythms, rhymes, and jingles to memorize.
- Use an exaggerated voice with pronounced intonation (rise and fall of the voice) and volume.
Visual learners learn best by seeing and writing down information. They remember more easily information presented in pictures and charts. They often make detailed pictures in their minds of information they are reading or learning. They learn best by writing information down.
Strategies for Visual Learners
- Visualize and make detailed pictures in your mind of information you are reading and learning.
- Make use of graphs, charts, and pictures in your textbook.
- Read the chapter in your textbook before you attend the class lecture on that subject to enhance your understanding of the material.
- Pay close attention to colors, shapes, textures, and sizes.
- Pay close attention to body language such as facial expressions, hand gestures, and body stance.
- Close your eyes, look up to 'see' information invisibly written in your mind.
- Use visual study tools such as flash cards, visual maps, hierarchies, matrixes, summary sheets and time lines.
- Add pictures to your notes. "A picture is worth a thousand words" is a true statement for a visual learner.
- Use different colors when highlighting, i.e. one color for the main ideas and a different color for the details.
- Re-write information. Take notes during lectures and from reading assignments.
Kinesthetic learners learn best through physical action. They prefer hands-on tasks and do best by doing and manipulating.
Strategies for Kinesthetic Learners
- Use your hands. Go to a science lab to touch and pick up objects. Sit at a computer and practice as you are learning to use the machine.
- Use visual study tools such as flash cards, visual maps, hierarchies, matrices, summary sheets, and time lines. When using flashcards, always shuffle them. In addition, place them on the floor, move them around with your hands, and actively pick them up when studying.
- Incorporate body movement into your studying. Use exaggerated hand gestures to help you learn information. Use pantomime to act out works of art. Role-play characters for a literature class.
- Walk around as you study.
- Write all information down several times.
- Take notes on textbook readings and lectures.
- Type information to be learned.
- Talk aloud.
General Study Strategies for All Learning Styles
- Create a written time management plan.
- Have an interest and a desire to learn.
- Read the relevant chapter in your textbook prior to attending class.
- Take notes in class and read your notes after class to fill in missed information and to establish continuity from one lecture to the next.
- Give the material your full attention and concentration.
- Study at times when you are most alert.
- Use prime time to study the most difficult material.
- Take breaks during your study times.
- Reward yourself for your studying efforts.
- Put small blocks of time to good use.
- Divide and conquer large projects.
- Understand information to memorize.
- Organize information to memorize.
- Make connections and associations between new information and information already stored in your memory.
- Visualize information to memorize by creating pictures on paper or in your mind.
- Create visual study tools such as flash cards, hierarchies, matrixes, timelines, and visual maps.
- Use keywords, acronyms, acrostics, rhythms, rhymes, jingles, cartoons, pictures, and story lines to memorize.
- Rehearse and review to memorize.
- Maintain a positive attitude.