A New Method for Identifying your Learning Style
By Jessica Coates-Judson
We’ve all done the tests that tell us that we like watching videos and are a certain type of learner but the truth is most people are a mixture and there’s no one size fits all approach. However, knowing how you best process information and apply that learning to situations is an important tool to have.
The theories associated with learning styles are often drawn from the principles of experiential learning which focus on the learning process and human experience. As learners, we all have preferences of how we learn. Academics have sought to break up learners into categories based on certain attributes however most learners fall into many categories. Drawing on these theories, these five questions are designed to help you identify your strong areas.
What is your attitude towards the topic?
Knowing how you feel about the subject is very important. Are you confident because you have some prior knowledge? Are you anxious because you’ve had poor results in the subject area previously? Taking the time to address your preconceived opinion can help you remove your associated negative feelings. Your teacher or tutor may be a good person to discuss this with.
What environment works best for you?
If you know sitting at the back of a noisy classroom interferes with your ability to pay attention and take in information, now is the time to make a change. Many learners find working at the library rather than at home helps overcome procrastination and there’s less distraction. Look at how productive you are in certain learning situations and compare.
How do you like to organise notes and learning materials?
Endless pages of notes can become tedious and counterproductive. Finding new ways to organise material can increase understanding and retention of vital data. Recording yourself reading notes, watching You Tube videos on related content, creating mind maps or breaking content up into mini-topics can give you subject overviews that become useful study tools come exam time.
Do you perform better in practical tasks?
Many learners prefer hands on tasks compared to analytical or written components. There should always be a link between practical tasks with course material and as a learner you should seek out that information. If it is not clear, talk to your fellow students and teacher to make those links.
Do you enjoy learning better with others?
Some learners thrive with human interaction where others would rather find a library corner with a good set of noise cancelling headphones. If you learn better with others you enjoy group work, tutoring sessions and actively participate in discussion to further your learning.
Now that you’ve look at what type of learning you enjoy, we need to find some strategies you can use to benefit from this knowledge!
You’ve answered these questions and identified your strong points. Some actions you can take are outlined below;
- Create a work space that matches your preferences. Do you think mind mapping is a beneficial tool for you? Set up your workspace with coloured markers and butcher paper so it’s easy to create without hassle.
- Talk to your teacher or tutor. Explain that you are looking at ways to improve your study most teachers will be impressed by your initiative and point you in the direction of appropriate material or support services.
- To make your study more people based you could start a study group, online discussion group or find a subject tutor.
- Look at your schedule and identify gaps where you can study in your ideal environment such as a library.
Jessica Coates-Judson is a qualified business trainer and adult educator. She currently works as a business and marketing consultant and teacher.