Did you know we all learn differently? The majority of people have a preferred way of taking in new skills, information etc, but many of us don’t know what is best for us unless we do some form of college course where we are “tested” to discover our learning style. This is a huge topic and for the purposes of this post I’m going to concentrate on the broader bands you might have come across
The Styles Are:
Visual: You learn by seeing You like diagrams, demonstrations, pictures, symbols, graphs etc. You prefer teachers who use visual information when explaining concepts, techniques etc.
Audio: You learn by hearing. You like to listen, discuss, share information verbally, describe things, you easily recall humour, quirky facts etc. You learn well from teachers who encourage discussion, sharing ideas etc
Read / Write – You learn by reading and writing. You like to read, make notes, lists etc, write essay, use technical manuals and love teachers who relay lots of factual information
Kinaesthetic: You learn by doing: you love to experience things, go on trips, engage in practical classes, collect things, use trial and error, problem solve. You respond well to teachers who can relate your learning to real life.
Multimodal – Most of us learn using a selection of the above techniques, Truly multimodal learners however are well balanced between all 4 approaches.
How Do I Find Out What Suits Me?
There are various websites where you can test your learning style – its best to look around them yourself and then go with the one that feels best to you.
http://www.vark-learn.com/english/page.asp?p=questionnaire is the one that best suits the system I’ve described and it also has great tips for helping you learn and express your ideas
But Does It Matter?
Its not essential to understand your learning style but it might help you if:
1. You can’t understand why you’re struggling to learn something
2. You’re having problems with a teacher for example but none of your friends are
3. You’re thinking about taking up a new hobby and want to know the best way to learn before paying for books, lessons etc
Can I Learn to Learn Differently?
Yes – when I did these tests at nursing college I was definitely a reader – writer – I love, love, love books!
But I repeated the test at the beginning of a teacher training course a few years back and I came out as multimodal. Why? Because I’d done lots of learning since I was 18, had had jobs where I learned practically, had undertaken Open University courses and been introduced to various learning resources and had discovered internet learning too! I still prefer books, diagrams etc but I now learn far more by doing!
Will It Help To Talk to a Teacher When I Do a Class?
Yes, especially if you find that the teacher uses a style that really doesn’t help you. They might not be able to change their style but should be able to point you towards learning resources that meet your needs. Plus other students might be having similar issues so sometimes a reminder that we don’t all learn the same, gives others the opportunity to get their needs met too.