How do you learn best? Is it by taking notes on your professor’s lecture in class, going through flash cards of information, or maybe by getting some hands-on practice? You have probably seen that there are many different ways that people learn information, and not everyone uses the same methods. Maybe you’ve wondered how your roommate can study for their exam when they are blaring loud music, or how someone could possibly concentrate on a textbook while sitting still in the same position for 2 hours! There is no one-size-fits-all answer for learning, and there are hundreds of studying tactics to help you. Research by an educator named Neil Fleming suggests that there are 4 main categories of learners: visual, auditory, reading/writing, and kinesthetic. These are called learning styles! Learning styles are important because they help you better understand what environment you work best in, and how to ensure that you study well to make that “A”!
Do you like seeing graphs and charts in a textbook that better explain the content? Do you remember things best when you can see them, such as on a flashcard or diagram? You might be a visual learner! Visual learners would rather see information given in a visual form, such as graphs, videos, handouts, or images. You may often find yourself closing your eyes to picture a random fact, or are distracted easily when listening to a lecture where there is nothing to look at.
Tips and Tricks for Visual Learners:
- Avoid studying or working in areas where there is a lot of movement or things to visually distract you.
- Create flashcards to learn new things.
- Highlight or color code important information.
- Find or make your own diagrams, lists, charts, or drawings of what you are trying to learn.
Different from visual ones, auditory learners learn best when they can hear information. Do you remember things better when you say them out loud? Do you enjoy bouncing ideas off of professors or fellow classmates? These may be signs that you are an auditory learner! These learners would rather listen to a lecture or to a recording than read a textbook. It may be helpful for you to read words out loud to memorize them, or to ask questions and verbalize your thought process.
Tips and Tricks for Auditory Learners:
- Sit where you can hear the lecture or class.
- Repeat facts or vocabulary words out loud to yourself.
- Have a friend read you practice questions and answer them out loud.
- Record class lectures or review sessions so you can play them back later.
Have you always done better in school when teachers use PowerPoints with their notes or when you write important information down? If so, you are probably a reading/writing learner! This is exactly what it sounds like: you learn better when things are displayed as words or when you write them yourself. Reading a textbook or PowerPoint slide is more effective for these learners than hearing or seeing.
Tips and Tricks for Reading/Writing Learners:
- It may seem straightforward, but take notes during lectures or while reading a textbook!
- Make your notes in bullet form, and only include important points: you will retain it better if notes are in condensed, “bite-size” pieces.
- Work in a quiet area where nothing will distract you from your reading.
- Practice for tests with multiple choice questions.
“Kinesthetic” means motion or movement. Kinesthetic, or tactile, learners thrive when they get hands-on practice and can physically apply what they are learning. If you find that you need to take frequent breaks during lectures to move around, love working with manipulatives when in class, and learn best by doing something, then kinesthetic learning is for you! You tend to learn best when some sort of movement is involved, rather than by hearing or seeing information.
Tips and Tricks for Kinesthetic Learners:
- Participate in hands-on activities like art, building things, acting out, or moving/manipulating objects.
- Give yourself study breaks where you can stretch or walk around to clear your mind.
- Trace words, letters, or numbers that relate to what your studying to better remember.
- Work in study groups and review by playing various trivia games or asking questions.
Remember, not everybody falls into one box! You may find tips from multiple categories useful. Whatever your learning style(s) are, find what helps YOU learn best!