It goes without saying that each individual has a unique background and personality. Though each person possesses unique, individual traits, we are often categorized into more generalized groups based on these characteristics.
When applying these concepts to the classroom, it becomes apparent that every student has a unique learning style that works best for them. Although each student is different, these learning styles can be sorted into general categories to better understand the similarities and differences between them. There are various ways to sort these learning styles, but for today we will take a look at thebasic 4-category assortment of learning styles:
Depending on the student, their unique preferences or strengths may extend to one or more of these four types, but typically, students tend to favor one over the rest.
Visual learners are those kinds of students who learn best by seeing and observing. These students love visual cues and representations like diagrams, graphs, mind maps etc. More often than not, visual people tend to have an appreciation for art and visually stimulating pieces as well. If you feel comfortable with diagrams and idea maps, then you are probably a visual learner. Here is a list of ways you can use your learning style to your academic benefit:
- Take good notes in class with pictures, lines, and arrows;
- Link related ideas by drawing lines between them;
- Use color wherever possible to keep track of various concepts;
- When studying or brainstorming, use mind maps to help you visually display your ideas;
- Look up videos about the subject you are learning to better grasp abstract ideas.
Using these techniques will allow you to take advantage of your visual learning style and increase your understanding of the material you are faced with.
Auditory learners are the kind of students who learn best by using their ears. These students work well with verbal instructions and have no issue paying attention in lectures. Many times, auditory learners have an appreciation for sound and music, not every individual falls under this category, but it is a common interest among auditory learners. If you pay attention well in lectures/meetings and have a good ear for information, you are probably an auditory learner. To use this to your benefit, consider the following:
- Always take opportunities to use your ears to your advantageDevote extra energy to paying attention in lectures;
- When taking notes, make sure to gather only the most important information so you can have more time to listen;
- When studying, play a little bit of soft, rhythmic, non-distracting music to help keep your mind going;
- If possible, take recordings of your lectures or listen to audiobooks while you’re doing your chores.
The more you can engage your ears as an auditory learner, the better!
Kinesthetic learners are those who learn best by practice. These students learn best if they are able to interact with the subject they are trying to learn. Whether it be tinkering with an electronic device, or dissecting a biology lab specimen, these learners learn best while doing. Commonly, these people are more of the active type and would rather be up and about rather than lounging in an office chair. If this sounds like you, you are probably a kinesthetic learner. To use this to your benefit, take advantage of opportunities to engage in hands-on learning:
- Take science laboratory classes or math classes that incorporate hands-on manipulation for problem-solving;
- Engage your body while studying other, less hands-on subjects;
- Try to study while standing or walking around;
- Use flashcards to study as you will have to physically pick up the cards and move them around as you work;
- If you must sit down to read a book, give yourself a few short breaks to stand up, stretch, and get your blood flowing;
- If you don’t have learning materials that you can manipulate, imagining yourself working with a concept hands-on.
As a kinesthetic learner, it is important that you do what you can to engage the sensory-motor section of your brain in order to achieve the best academic results.
Readers learn best by reading and writing about their subject material. Typically, these students already possess a love for reading. If this is you, you are quite lucky as most school subjects have books and texts related to the learning material. To use this to your advantage, consider the following:
- Take thorough, effective notes;
- Be sure to write good sentence summaries of the concepts your teacher provides;
- When studying, write out the ideas in lists;
- When studying a particular mechanism (science for example) try writing out how the mechanism works as if you were writing a story.
In summary, these are four of the most popular learning styles, and using these categories as a reference point can help you discover what type of learner you are! Some of you may find you fit into more than one of these categories, meaning you have multiple strengths and can be flexible in your academic approach. Regardless of the style or category you feel you belong to, embrace these strengths and learning preferences so that you can use this new found understanding to your benefit!
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