By Jenna Moede
I have always heard people talk about different types of learning styles, but I never really payed attention until I started college. In high school I usually skated by and didn’t feel like learning styles had relevance to my life.
After starting college, however, I realized how much of a difference knowing my learning style could make. Once I started classes online, I learned that applying my learning style in an on-line environment made a huge difference in my knowledge retention.
For example, I can easily memorize material for a test, but I typically don’t remember that material later before an exam. However, when I study according to my learning style, I can recall information at much later dates, and I know that I really store it long term.
Typically, there are four main types of learning styles: auditory, visual, read/write and kinesthetic. You can find ways to apply each within an on-line learning platform.
Auditory: These individuals learn what they hear. These types of people respond best both to speaking and listening.
If you learn best by listening and speaking, these tips can help you make the most out of your on-line classes.
First, try reading any material out loud. As you read an article, textbook or even your notes read them out loud so you can hear them as well. As an auditory learner, this will help the information stick in your mind better than just reading.
Next, once you finish reading information, whether from a textbook or an article, try to summarize the information in your own words after you finish. Again, this type of speaking will help cement the information in your mind.
If you need another way to study, try having someone ask you the questions from the end of a chapter or make up their own questions about an article. Hearing a question asked out loud and answering it out loud will help you prepare for exams and material questions.
On that same note, if you have people you can talk with or friends in your class set a time to call them or get coffee and discuss the information for the week. Discussions help you learn from one another, and you will get a better grasp on the concepts.
Lastly, as an auditory learner, make sure you listen closely to lectures and videos. As auditory learners, listening is your best tool, and making sure you pay close attention will give you the best chance to recall information.
Visual: As a visual learner, charts, graphs and diagrams matter. Make sure to study every chart, graph and diagram provided by textbooks, articles and websites.
You should also try to highlight information or color coordinate it to help you picture key ideas and theories. Pay attention, however, not to over highlight information. Stick mainly to important ideas, words or phrases in order to avoid remembering too much trivial information.
Next, you should try to watch any available videos and lectures provided by your professor. Oftentimes professors will link you to information in addition to the lectures, and as a visual learner, watching the videos will really help you expand your knowledge base.
Lastly, for visual learners, try to recreate your notes from memory. After reviewing charts and diagrams or pictures, try to recreate them in your own notebook. This will test your information retention, and it will help you picture that information at a later time.
Reading and Writing: I have always learned best this way, and if you do too, then these tips will help you out.
First, read everything. I read footnotes, appendixes, captions and any resource my professor links. As I read, I always take notes. For me, notes help me review information whenever I choose.
In order to retain the most information from each article or textbook chapter that I read, I prepare myself. I once heard that skimming an article or chapter before reading sets the stage for reading and writing learners to pull the most information during their in-depth read. I have actually found that it really does work.
After I finish reading and taking notes, I usually organize my notes and rewrite them. Writing information from notes at least two times helps me memorize it.
Additionally, after I rewrite my notes, I tend to write a third set in my own words. Using my own words for key concepts and main ideas helps me familiarize myself with the concepts and really gain a deep understanding.
I also write notes while I watch videos or lectures because that way I can go back and revisit the concepts.
Next, I take the information from charts, graphs and diagrams and I write them in paragraph form. I do this because pictures don’t really stick with me for a long time. If I put them in word form, I find that I can easily remember the information and the main points of each visual aid.
As a reading and writing learner, I also reread my notes frequently. Typically, before I start on the day’s work, I revisit my notes from the previous day or session. This, again, helps me set the stage to build on the foundation of learning I already have.
Lastly, I answer any and all questions in the book or provided by the professor. By answering questions, I familiarize myself even more and get a better picture of the main points and what I needed to take away from the unit.
I usually circle or write in the answers for each question because writing helps my memory kick in.
While this tip really helps reading and writing learners, I recommend it for every type of learner in whatever way works best for you.
Kinesthetic: These types of students will probably have the hardest time with on-line learning, but you definitely can do it.
Kinesthetic learners learn best through action and they tend to learn through the things they do. This said, if you learn this way, do any and all available practice provided by the professor.
Additionally, try to apply all concepts to a real-life application. For example, if you learn about nutrients in a nutrition class, try to create a meal plan that incorporates the concepts learned. This type of action and application benefits kinesthetic learners.
Keeping notes really helps kinesthetic learners as well because it keeps them engaged in the material. Engagement will help you the most if you feel that you learn best through actions.
Lastly, recreate any problem or project that you possibly can. Again, hands on experience is the best way for you to learn if you are a kinesthetic learner.
While all four learning styles have huge differences, most people will feel like they may have overlapping learning styles. Learn what works best for you and then apply all the tips and tricks to help you get the most out of every second that you spend studying.