How To Identify Your Learning Style and Capitalize on Your Strengths

What is a learning style?

 Learning styles are distinct approaches or ways of learning.  There are many types, and many people have accelerated learning with a combination of styles.  Three of the most popular learning styles are visual, auditory and tactile or kinesthetic.

  • A visual learner benefits from seeing or reading text, diagrams, flow charts or demonstrations.
  •  An auditory learner prefers to hear, listen to, or participate in discussions or presentations.
  • A tactile or kinesthetic learner needs to write, touch, or physically build information for it to stick in their memory.

Some other learning styles that are less well known and influential, but still noteworthy, are reflective, social and solitary.

  •  A reflective learner needs to think things through before doing them.
  • A social learner benefits from learning in a social or group setting.
  •  A solitary learner prefers to study alone.

How can I determine my learning style? 

 There are multiple learning style quizzes that you take online.  You can find them by doing a simple web search.  Most often they consist of a series of multiple-choice questions.  After completing the tests you submit and the website analyzes the data letting you know what your preferred learning style or the combination of learning styles that best suit you.

The results from my self-administered test showed that I had a relatively equal distribution of scores in auditory (45%), visual (30%) and tactile (25%).

How can knowing my learning style help me succeed?

If your test scores show that you are most prominently an auditory learner, then in a classroom setting be sure to sit where can hear; read stories, assignments or directions out loud; and ask your peers to quiz you out loud when studying for a midterm or final exam.

If you are predominately a visual learner, then make sure you sit in a place you can see the information being presented; take time to visualize things you hear or read; color code school work, diagrams and note cards; and make sure to have your eyes checked and reading glasses available if needed.

If your learning strength is primarily tactile or kinesthetic, then participate in activities where you build, design or draw to enhance you learning; stay mobile while studying such as tapping a pencil, chewing gum or walking on a treadmill; and take frequent but not extended breaks from studying.

Because people typically find that they have strengths in a combination of areas its helpful to engage multiple learning styles when studying.  You may watch a slide presentation on line while reading the important components out loud and, at the same time, take your own side notes or make flash cards.  Later you could have someone else quiz you with the same flash cards.

 Some professors post lecture slides online that can be printed out and used for note taking during class, this way if you’re an auditory learner you can focus on listening, if you’re a visual learner you have slides to refer to later, and if you’re kinesthetic you can write additional notes on the slide printouts during the lecture.

Can I change my learning style?

 Once you know your dominate learning style you can strengthen the other learning styles by slowly disengaging in activities related to your prominent style and gradually focusing on activities that require you to use other skills and tools. If you’re a visual learner and find that reading is your strongest tool then if may be time to listen to an auditory of the same text.

Using learning styles in project settings?

Depending on your major, you may find yourself required to participate in group-projects. In that case try to take on assignments that best suit your dominant learning style.  If you’re a visual learner then you may want to volunteer to develop the slide presentation format or poster boards.  If you’re an auditory learner then perhaps you can volunteer to be the primary presenter and so on….

 Your current studying methods may be working just fine for you but if your study skills need some revamping then knowing your learning style may help you find your way out of a rut.

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Heidi Meier

Heidi Meier

Heidi Meier is a junior at the University of California, Davis pursuing degrees in communication and psychology. At school, Heidi can be found participating in psychology experiments or lounging on the quad. Outside of school, she enjoys exploring new cities, adventuring with friends, and playing with her puppy, Pancake.
Heidi Meier

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