Which of Those 8 Learning Style Suits You Best (Hint: School Probably Taught You Wrong)
When you think of learning you probably associate it with school or university. We learn to develop ourselves or our careers, or to educate ourselves how to handle challenging situations – for example, how to go about being good parents or how to lose weight.
While effects of learning is most definitely beneficial, the process itself is often considered boring, mundane and frustrating.
This article will lay out for you 8 learning styles, separated by 4 axes. Prepare to be amazed by how many different learning style combinations there are.
If you read this article to the end you might learn why you have success learning in one course but not in others, why you study well with some people and with others you can’t. Why some teachers manage to intrigue and educate you, while others seem like they want to torture you while they try to do the same.
WHEN IS IT IMPORTANT?
Knowing your learning style will help you immensely to improve your technique. It will give you a full perspective on the way your brain perceives information.
You will be surprised to discover the little quirks you always felt made your learning process unique. You will get to know how you can improve your learning process and what learning sources you need to seek out.
You will discover why you study well with some people and not with others.
If you are an active learner you are the type that has to interact with the subject in order to understand it. You find it difficult to comprehend a subject just from the book. Thinking about it does not help you. Reading about it is pointless.
Ideally, you want to be able to touch the subject of your studying, to dismantle it, to see it from the inside.
You want to go to the place where the events happened, feel the vibe and the history and see the consequences of the actions of people who lived before you.
You learn by testing, tasting, examining, listening to, seeing and watching closely. You love experiments!
Sitting through a boring lecture without having anything to do with your hands horrifies you.
An interesting coincidence here is that active learners prefer learning in a group rather than alone. When you have the chance to discuss the subject with others you feel you experience it from different points of view and that enables you to discover more of its features or meanings.
This is how active learners learn the most:
- Seek out opportunities to discuss the subject. If the class does not involve discussions try and raise the topic with friends or family – people outside of your learning group.
- Look for opportunities to experiment with the subject. Anything that brings you closer than the written word. Rely on your senses. Sight, hearing, taste, smell and touch.
- Organize study parties. Aim for between 3 and 6 people. That is the ultimate learning combination. Bring snacks. Make sure you have an precise agenda for learning. If it is possible, do a test at the end of the day to determine who learned the most. Gamify the occasion. Give a gold star for the best score, or note-worthy discussion participation.
- If you are having heavy difficulties with a particular subject, talk to your teacher. Use your new-found knowledge to support the argument that you are an active learner and probably not the only one. You will need them to adapt their teaching style to fit your needs.
In contrast to active learners, where you have to interact with the subject in order to understand it, reflective learners think about the subject. They do not understand the need to touch or see something to know it well – they do not need that and do not understand how that would help. All they need is facts, facts and facts.
If you are a reflective learner, you do not need too many examples, you are completely satisfied with learning about something via a well-structured account from your teacher.
You do not need or understand the need of interaction – using your senses will not really tell you the history of the subject or tell you how it was made, will it? It will barely show you their current state.
Most probably you even have your strategy for learning about something. First, you need to know what it is called and why. Then, you need to understand how the object was made, or what led to the event that happened. Then you like to know what are the consequences of it happening, or how people use it nowadays.
You do not like group learning sessions. They are distracting, if anything. In fact, you learn about things best by yourself, in some peace and quiet.
This is how reflective learners learn the most:
- If you have your favorite strategy of learning, it is probably a logical sequence of questions. The first time you come across a topic you need to learn about, write down the most important questions you come up with. Try to remember your thought process behind asking those exact questions. Write down the answers. You are halfway there.
- If you feel distracted during discussions or group study sessions, do not despair. Try and listen more than you speak. You do not need to pay full attention. Be comfortable in following your own train of thought. If you do have to participate at some point, your contribution will be very appreciated if you ask the right questions – look through your list. Because of your natural way of thinking about learning, you will most probably come up with unique and important topics to be discussed about the subject.
- At home do not hesitate and look off your learn book to let yourself think creatively for a prolonged period of time about the issue.
The axis between the sensing and the intuitive learners has everything to do with whether the learner trusts their brain or their guts. Intuitive learners go with the flow and learn by discovering and thinking about possibilities and relationships. Sensing learners think about facts predominantly.
The difference between the two types of learners is most prominent during history class.
Sensing learners, or sensors, are very good at keeping track of time and eras. They love imagining how history was happening parallel on the different continents for example. Or how one event from the economy of a country influenced another event, politically.
Sensors like exact sciences – maths, physics, chemistry, astronomy and history.
Sensors cannot study well unless they have impeccable sources, full of statistics, facts, and they mostly seek out numerical proof of their conclusions. If their materials do not contain enough information, they will look for it somewhere else. They will never except their materials giving them ready answers instead of giving them information, based on which, they can make their conclusions.
You will hear them sighing and huffing and puffing over their text books asking questions like ‘Oh yeah, the economy was bad? Tell me how much the GDP was? How do I know if it was bad’ or ‘Oh, okay, some children find it difficult to be honest with their parents? What percentage? Where are your statistics?’
This is how sensing learners learn the most:
- If you do not have the facts in front of you in your materials, look for them, if that will make you feel more confident in your knowledge.
- If you cannot find any facts to support the ‘allegations’, trust your source. Just because they do not give you the numbers, that does not mean the overall conclusion is wrong. Let go, you are being arrogant. The author is an authority on the subject. Believe them.
- If you find it difficult to just believe the source of some theoretical knowledge, ask your teacher to connect the theory to some real life events. More often than not, you will find the connection with other cases and events where statistics and numbers are available. Now you will see for yourself.
As we said, the difference between the two types of learners is most prominent during history class.
During history class, intuitive learners love thinking about the characters. They are fascinated by famous historical figures. They love imagining the personality behind the name.
Intuitive learners are very much put off by anything without character. They are not the best at exact sciences. Anything with too many repetitive rules or facts would never be their cup of tea.
Intuitives are fascinated by art, history, literature, psychology and politics.
More often than not they will have a high level of emotional intelligence. They will see right behind people’s intentions and could often see where things are going before even hearing the whole story.
They are great empaths. They are great at learning about historical figures because they love imagining themselves in those other people’s shoes.
On the other hand, they are not so great with numbers. Because ‘I am putting myself in their place today, then why would the year mean anything? Relationships are always the same. People have always been the same.’
This is how intuitive learners learn the most:
- You are not good at memorization. Most classes nowadays are not aimlessly focused on memorization, but if you do get such tasks, try and see the connections between the numbers. Try and figure out the connection to real human lives and fates.
- Repetition is key. Write down memorizable data on focus cards and test yourself, score yourself, and play with them until you win 100%.
- Exercise patience and logic. You may not be strong with numbers, but your logic is strong. At closed tests, do not give up if you do not know the right answer. It is enough to know all the wrong answers. You will probably be tempted to select any option of you are not sure in the answer, but rather try the method of elimination.
Pictures, diagrams, flow charts, bars, time lines, restorations… This is your jam. Never ever do you have more success with remembering information than when you see it laid out in a colorful graphic. You might feel giddy and warm on the inside when you find it. Even if you have pages and pages written on the subject in your notebook. Finally, you will get the entire picture.
This is how visual learners learn the most:
- Limit the amount of information you write down. Instead, only write down some key points. Then, forward your full attention to your teacher, your class, the materials that are being shown in class, the presentation. Absorb the most information you can.
- Grab a marker. Grab ten. Color your notebook in the color of the rainbow. One color for each paragraph. It will really help you remember the structure of your lesson. You will never forget a detail.
- Create your own bar diagrams, pie diagrams, and (most importantly) flow charts. Play with various shapes and colors.
- Accompany your notebook with self-drawn images and cartoons if you feel inspired and if you have the time. Something that is very easy to keep up with are symbols. Put them around your writing to remind you the point of the story you are up to.
- Work with Maps whenever it is appropriate.
- Create your own lists of pros and cons, venn diagrams, and box diagrams. Always draw lines out of your chart explaining connections between the objects.
- Always Google Image the subject of interest
Learn more about visual learning:
Statistics show most students are visual learners. So, unfortunately you are in the minority. This is the bad news. You will find little understanding if you confess you are better at remembering and comprehending text rather than images.
The good news is images and diagrams are less accessible than textual information on any subject. The reason is the visual relies on analysis, whereas text is strictly informational.
That means for no particular reason, most classes are geared toward verbal learners (who prefer spoken or written information)
This is how verbal learners learn the most:
- Give yourself homework. Write about the issue at hand. Find external sources and incorporate them into your notes in order to create new, supercharged notes.
- Share your notes with friends. Read about their recollection of how the topic was discussed.
- Speak out your notes out loud. Discuss them with friends or family (if they are so kind to support your learning efforts, of course)
- Rewrite your notes on focus cards. Write analyses not just about each of your classes but about the connections between the different topics you have covered.
- Look for other sources of information – movies, speeches, documentaries, videos on the Inernet – scripted and unscripted.
- Participate in study parties. Discuss. Talk more about the issues you do not understand than the issues you do. Ask a lot of questions. Hear to various perspectives.
- If nothing else helps, ask your teacher for help directly. Explain you want to clear out several details. Try and prepare precise questions. They will not enjoy you asking generally about the topic – they provide general information over the course of the class.
Sequential learners follow the dominos effect. They start from learning the basic facts, then they elaborate on the more complex information. Then they tackle the most intricate details.
One by one, from the most simple, to the hardest challenge, they follow the routine of learning, patiently building from the base up, never losing confidence they will get the full picture at the end.
Sequential learners are people with great confidence, high intelligence, and feeling very secure with their learning strategies. They respect greatly the authority of their teachers and instructors. They are very particular in their ways and like doing things a certain way.
This is how sequential learners learn the most:
- Just because your learning is sequential, that does not mean it is very logical. Try and figure out what the steps towards learning are for you – is there a pattern? Try and write down a plan for your learning and then fill in keypoints as you go along.
- Luck is already on your side because most courses go in a sequential manner. However, if the sequence comes in contrast with the way your logic goes, you will feel it particularly difficult to find connections. Draw up flow charts and explain the connections to yourself.
- You will also find it difficult to take notes form teachers whose way of providing information you find chaotic. Try, instead of taking down notes, to concentrate on creating a study plan – your notes should be in bullet point instead of textual.
Global learners will be the ones truly interested to read this article. The way they perceive information is fascinating. They either see the entire picture or nothing at all.
They find it difficult to follow the thought of the instructor. They grasp only some of the details but fail to build and see the entire picture until the very end.
Their way of learning has usually brought them some confusion, some frustration, and some lack of confidence in their own learning powers.
The way it happens for them is that they find it difficult to see the entire picture until they do. They seem to be unable to grasp what the basics are. Instead, they see little parts of the story before it all snaps into place.
Sequential learners follow the dominos effect. And global learners, follow the puzzle effect. Yes, they see the image partially but they cannot tell what it means, what emotions it is supposed to evoke, or what
This is how global learners learn the most:
- First of all, try and remain calm. Your brain is built in a way where different parts of the materials will grab your attention and those are the ones you will remember first. Those will not necessarily be connected or consequential. That is okay.
- Try and build around the details that already grabbed your attention. Ask yourself questions to help you get the timeline and the connections: ‘What led to that?’, ‘And then what’, ‘What does that mean for…’
- When you are reading an article, a lesson, or a book chapter, always scan through the pages and read the first several words from each paragraph. Once you know where the story is going, you will find it way easier to pay attention – because you will have an idea of the full picture.
WHAT LEARNING STYLE DO I HAVE?
There is an easy test available online that will tell you what your learning style is. You will just answer several questions about your learning habits and capabilities such as:
- ‘I understand something better after I…’ ‘…try it out.’ Or ‘think it through’
- When I think about what I did yesterday, I am most likely to get…’ ‘…a picture.’ Or ‘…words.’
- ‘Once I understand…’ ‘…all the parts, I understand the whole thing.’ Or ‘…the whole thing, I see how the parts fit.
- ‘When I start a homework problem, I am more likely to…’ ‘…start working on the solution immediately.’ Or ‘try to fully understand the problem first.’
- ‘When I am reading for enjoyment, I like writers to…’ ‘…clearly say what they mean.’ Or ‘…say things in creative, interesting ways.’
The test is completely free of charge and, in addition to this article, provides valuable information that could help you in your struggles with learning.
The most important thing you need to remember about your learning style is, you will have tendencies and could probably recognize the thinking of each one of the learning types. The idea is to find out whether you have strong, moderate or mild connection to the category
The test and the information from this article are only supposed to help you learn faster and more efficiently, as well as make you more empathetic and understanding of people with different learning styles than yours – an effort that could greatly benefit you in your academic career and learning your entire life.
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