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Know Your Learning Style

There are many senses our brains use to receive and process information. Some are more effective for capturing and retaining information than others, and different circumstances and individuals best process information in different ways.

Discovering how you process information may assist you in formulating strategies for better studying and learning in the classroom!

What is Your Learning Style?

The first step to determining your learning style is to take a short assessment.

It is important to remember that your dominant learning style is not the only style you use to learn. However, it can be the most effective, depending on the circumstance.

Once you determine which learning style you use most, read through the rest of the page to learn some strategies you can use to be a more successful student.

Visual Learners:

Classroom strategies: Visual learners should take notes using pictures, charts, and graphs. They should also develop and use a consistent system of color-coding to signify important information. Take notes or make a list while listening to directions. If needed, sit close to the instructor to watch their facial expressions or gestures.

Study strategies: Review and organize information frequently using visual cues such as underlining and highlighting; summarize written information using charts, graphs, or timelines; keep track of due dates and assignments in a convenient place; use class notes to find a pattern of organization that instructors may use; create blank forms or charts to use during lectures.

Test-taking strategies: When taking a test, visual learners should "dump" formulas and diagrams on the test and attempt to recall an image of the study materials. For essay tests, they should use scratch paper to plan and organize responses. During application tests (math or sciences), visual learners can use a color-coding system while solving. If a visual learner gets stuck, he or she should write down any related information to help trigger recall.

Auditory Learners:

Classroom strategies: Auditory learners should read out loud so they can hear the text and record lectures instead of (or perhaps in addition to) taking notes. These learners benefit most from using mnemonic devices to recall information. Discussing ideas with another person is a great method of learning for auditory learners!

Study strategies: One of the best ways auditory learners can retain information is to make an audio CD by recording themselves speaking the information. Auditory learners can then replay that information at anytime to listen and learn. Another good idea is to have someone verbally review information with these learners. Use a study group to practice writing answers to old exam questions or predict exam questions and give the responses out loud.

Test-taking strategies:  If auditory learners are struggling to answer a question, imagine talking with the examiner. They should ask for clarification if they don't understand written directions or questions. For take-home essay tests, talk through responses before writing.

Kinesthetic Learners:

Classroom strategies: Kinesthetic learners should choose instructors who use real-life examples and applications or hands-on approaches. They should keep their desks clear of distracting objects and sit in a part of the classroom that offers the fewest distractions. Kinesthetic learners should always take notes, draw what they are learning whenever possible, and use a consistent color-coding system while taking notes.

Study strategies: Kinesthetic learners should practice, practice, practice. They can also work in a study group or use a tutor to develop models, experiments, and study aids. When using flashcards, kinesthetic learners can organize them spatially by grouping or categorizing them or create a moveable concept map from notes. These learners should always divide work into short study sessions with a break or reward in-between them. Another strategy is for them to refine and expand notes by adding color-coded examples. Finally, kinesthetic learners should take practice exams in an exam-like setting to create a physical memory that is tied to content.

Test-taking strategies: They should do a data dump as soon as they get the test and add to it as needed. They can chew gum to create movement! If they are having trouble remaining focused, they should get up and stretch or walk around periodically (if allowed!). Drawing or doodling while trying to recall information or recalling what they were doing or the movements they made while studying the material is also effective.