What’s Your Learning Style? Retain knowledge by understanding how you learn

Written on by Mindy Haas

So, it’s a few weeks into the semester and classes are well under way. With the varied and complex coursework, it’s easy for students to become overwhelmed, especially if the subject is not their forte. So what do you do when you have trouble focusing on the droning teacher? How do you switch gears from one class to the next and retain all that information?

For starters, it’s helpful to know that everyone learns differently. Someone who understands and retains knowledge by hearing a teacher speak may struggle to get through a textbook, and vice versa.

Let’s take a look at the styles of learning  

Visual learners like images, such as charts, graphs, maps, and videos. They sit up at the front of the class and watch the speaker’s movements and facial expressions to grasp the subject matter. Their textbooks and notebooks are likely to be highlighted in various colors. To recall something, they’ll conjure a picture in their mind.

Auditory learners retain information through listening. They enjoy discussing the subject verbally and tend to focus on the speaker’s tone and inflection. Written instructions don’t mean much to them until they have heard them spoken aloud.

Read/Write learners use words in order to retain information. They make lists, take copious notes, and summarize key points in writing. They love referencing dictionaries, glossaries and bullet points.

Kinesthetic or Tactile learners make use of their senses and hands-on experiences in order to remember things. They like to build or draw and often will use physical movement while learning, such as pacing or standing. They tend to have collections of items (i.e. coins) and like to learn while out and about at  parks or museums.

Multimodal learners have more than one dominant style of learning, which requires them to use combinations of the various methods to learn.

Don’t know your learning style?

Take a quick test here to find out.

How can you leverage your learning style?

Here are just a few tips to get you started, but we recommend that you visit the additional reading section for more strategies. Experiment with multiple ones to see what works best for you!

    • Sit in the front of the class to better observe your teacher
    • Ask your teacher for a copy of the class slides (if applicable)
    • Make use of your textbook diagrams, charts and flowcharts
    • Find online videos or images that pertain to the subject
    • Draw or write out what your learning, try replacing key words with symbols (@)
    • Engage in discussions on the subject with fellow students
    • Explain the subject matter to friends or family
    • Use a tape recorder in class, then play it back
    • Record your summary of the subject, then play it back for yourself
    • Read your notes out loud
    • Read and re-read your notes
    • Write and re-write key words, phrases or ideas
    • Summarize the subject in your own words
    • Use works to write a description of graphs and charts
    • Ask your teacher for real-life examples
    • Build a model or complete a puzzle
    • Vary your study location
    • Chew gum while studying
    • Conduct experiments
    • Go on field trips
    • Take frequent study breaks

By understanding how you learn, and developing study habits around it, you’ll be able to tackle even the toughest subjects. Good luck!

Additional Resources

Photo by Jeff Sheldon via Unsplash

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