Here’s what we know for sure. When it comes to learning, what works for you may not necessarily for me. We all learn differently. You need to discover your learning style and what method works best for you to not just make the grade to progress, but to enjoy the learning process. Keep reading to find out more about learning styles.
How we learn has been a keen area of interest for many theorists.
When we speak about “learning styles”, we mean an individual mixture of styles. We have different strengths and preferences. And for most of us, we have a combination of learning styles. There is no one correct way to learn and these approaches to learning are not fixed. You may read this and recognise slipping between these at various times over the course of a programme.
Why do learning styles matter?
A professional looking to upskill their resume. A college going individual with a desire to enhance their studies with additional courses. Or you have a young child in school. It doesn’t matter what you’re studying, the difference in how we learn affects how we absorb and retain the information.
Another factor that affects learning but is often ignored is your personality type. This is often referred to as ‘interactive learning’. Here, those with extroverted personalities learn better in a group setting. They thrive off working with others, bouncing off ideas and engaging in discussions as part of the learning.
An intrapersonal learning style, for the introverts on the other hand, learn better alone. These learners absorb information better at their own pace. This learning style is often accompanied by other learning styles.
VAK Learning Styles
The Visual-Auditory-Kinesthetic (VAK) learning styles are a simple means to explain and understand the different kinds of learning styles. This is a favourite learning theory style because its principles and benefits extend to all learning and development types. People are believed to also have a more dominant learning style, although in most cases, there is a mix or balance of the three featured styles.
This learning style model is also referred to as VARK (Visual-Auditory-Reading-Kinesthetic) or VACT (Visual-Auditory-Kinesthetic-Tactile). Let’s learn more about these different styles.
“Visual learners” are those individuals who learn better through watching videos and taking online courses. As a visual learner, you are most likely attached to colours and rich visual aids. You will get the most out of your earning through delivery that utilizes visual aids, diagrams, graphs, and PowerPoint presentations to name a few examples. These visuals aid the learning process by making you understand the material, structures, and ideas presented better.
Tip: Colour code your notes to help you organize the learning material.
No one remembers song lyrics quite like you. As an auditory style learner, you learn better by hearing and listening and store information by how it sounds. The more you hear something, the more likely you are to remember it. Using audio books is one such example you can use to learn. For individuals who lean towards aural learning, it’s important to understand that they pay better attention to what is being said, rather than what is on a screen or a board.
Tip: Read your written notes aloud to yourself to help process the information.
Some individuals learn better by “doing” something, that is, using hands to learn and develop a skill. You talk with your hands, gesture a lot and are more likely to open the back of something to figure out how it works. The kinesthetic (or tactile) learners grasp content better when they’re actively performing a task. So, whether they are reciting information or pacing around a room while learning, the information is received better when active as opposed to written instructions.
Tip: review your study material while on the move, even while exercising. Take regular breaks during your study time and come back refreshed.
Added to this list are the reading/writing learners who learn best by reading and writing the material down.
How to identify your learning style
Now that we’ve covered the different learning styles, you need to identify your personal style. Here are a few ways to do this.
- For visual learners, use a visual memory test where you try to recall as many images as possible. If this test was relatively easy, you may be a visual learner.
- To test if you are an auditory learner, listen to an audio recording from your class or lesson and test yourself to see how many facts you can list out.
- For the reading/writing learners, if you read a lot and take pages of notes in a class, you may be this type of learner. Like the auditory test, read a chapter of a book and then try remembering as many of the key ideas after a break.
- Kinesthetic learners. Ask yourself two essential questions. Do you get the best results from learning when you do something? How well do you do in motor-related skill activities? If these responses are positive, then you are likely a kinesthetic learner.
Your learning style is best identified by the mode of study that gives you the best learning outcome.
When you understand your learning style, you will have a better learning experience. The key thing to remember is that whatever journey you are on, learning is an essential part of the growth process. What differs is how each of us acquires the learning received and finding the motivation to succeed. And when you find your learning style, you’ll prime yourself for success and have a more balanced and effective learning process.