Thursday, November 6, 2014

What's Your Learning Style?

Study groups can be very productive, and a good way to learn the material before a test. For my last midterm exam, I got together with two of my friends to review and I felt that I got to learn a lot of information I had missed when studying on my own in a fast and effective way. However, at other times when I've formed a study group I just couldn't keep up. What's up with that? It probably has something to do with how the information was presented in the different groups and learning styles.

Learning styles vary from person to person, can change over time or between occasions, and usually occur in a combination. They often include three different modalities of learning: visualizing style, auditory style, and tactile or kinesthetic style. There are numerous resources that can help you find your dominant learning style online and on campus. For example, you may want to take the “Learning Styles Inventory” on the AA&CC website ( at the bottom of the page), or come to one of our Study Skills Seminars at the AA&CC to assess how you learn best.

Take a look at the descriptions of each type of learner and some tips for how you can enhance your learning as a visual, auditory or a tactile/kinetic learner.

Visualizing style learner

Visual learners learn best by seeing. For example, these types of students need to see materials, read textbooks, and look at diagrams, graphs and charts to grasp ideas and concepts.

Some tips to enhance your learning include...
   Colour code your notes and materials (ex. highlighting, tabbing)
   Create a one page concept maps of each chapter you read to help you organize ideas
   Make up acronyms or symbols to represent key words or concepts as a memory aide
   Draw pictures to go along with your notes
   Look for graphs, diagrams and charts to summarize what you've learned
   Find videos to help you learn or review concepts
   Picture visual cues to go along with information that you learn (ex. places where the information could be applied)

Auditory style learner

Auditory learners learn best by hearing. For example, these types of students need to hear lectures, discuss material, and read out loud to understand what's being taught.

Some tips to enhance your learning include...
   Read your text books out loud
   Tape your lectures (with permission from your instructor) and re-listen to them
   Recite material you are memorizing out loud
   Create a song or jingle out of your material
   Create a story out of what you're learning
   Record yourself practicing your material out loud, listen to the recording multiple times
   Have group study discussions
   Answer peer questions in a study group
   Talk to your professor during office hours
   Make word associations 
   Practice your answers out loud

Tactile or kinesthetic learner

Tactile learners learn best through touch or movement. For example, these types of students need to create models, practice hands-on work, write and re-write notes (multiple times) to absorb material.

Some tips to enhance your learning include...
   Write and re-write notes multiple times
   Create models of the topic you are studying (ex. the human brain)
•   Use objects to represent models (ex. marbles to represent numbers in math)
   Study while exercising
   Act out your materials (ex. historical conquests)
   Use flash cards
   Create a game out of it (ex. memory game: flip over the matching word and definition)
   Teach the material in an active way
   Allot scheduled study breaks
   Try pacing while reading your material aloud
   Use your finger to trace while you read
   Do something physical while studying (ex. squeeze a stress ball)

Which style sounds most like you? Next time you're preparing for a quiz, test or exam, try out some of these learning style tips and let us know how it works out!

Until next time,
Rajani Sellathurai

Resources used in this post:

AA&CC Learning Styles Tipsheet:

American River College Study Tips for Different Learning Styles:

IUPUI 3 Learning Styles:

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