We experience the world around us and represent the experience internally as we perceived it. These internal representations are our personal maps to what is actually out there. We perceive through our Senses – Visually (sight), Auditorily (sound), Kinesthetically (touch), Olfactory (smell), and Gustatory (taste). When referring to the experience of ‘Learning’, it happens largely through language-based communication. So smell and taste are less significant.
A person’s primary learning style is one of Visual, Auditory, or Kinesthetic, as defined by the VAK model of Learning Styles Psychology.
Some strategies are discussed here to develop your own learning style.
Visual learners learn the best when the information is presented graphically. They like to see a holistic view – depicted with charts, flow diagrams, arrows, etc. This type of learner prefers summarised information rather them sequential or piecemeal. When they recall the information learned, they do so by imagining its graphical depiction in their heads. If asked to explain, they would do it graphically.
Some general characteristics of visual learners are that they are somewhat impatient and tend to speak fast.
Auditory learners learn best from the vocal form of information. They are good listeners. When in a class they would rather listen to the speaker than take notes. When recalling information they would rather speak it aloud to themselves.
They like to explain information vocally and generally do well in group discussions. They are generally more patient to listen to other participants in the discussion.
Kinesthetic learners must ‘feel’ the information that is coming to them. They respond better to instructed activity-based learning. They like to write down information with their hand and read it to learn or recall it. They like to be hands-on with what they learn.
Another classification model considers “Reading/Writing” as a category in addition to kinesthetics. It is referred to as the VARK model.
These classifications however do not have rigid boundaries. An individual usually has a dominant style but uses other styles as well. This often depends on the type of information being processed.
What is your Learning Style
There are tests to see which of these three is your dominant style. You can then use this self-knowledge to learn more efficiently.
If, for example, your primary way of processing new information is visual, imagining things in your mind is a good way to make them ‘stick’.
Writing things down or otherwise physically using information helps those with a kinesthetic style.
Listening to taped information is a good way for auditory learners to remember things.
Beyond these, a person’s learning style is a unique combination of the primary ways of processing information, as well as the ways in which various techniques and personal idiosyncrasies are used. For example, if you remember facts better when you study in the morning, then you should study important things in the morning. Also, particular techniques, like the memory technique of linking a set of facts or items in a story, might work well for you. These techniques should be used as a habitual part of learning.
Learn how you most easily process information, note how other factors affect your ability to learn, and then test various techniques. In this way, you can develop a unique learning style that works best for you. The following are some elements you may want to include.
Some Techniques To Develop Your Learning Style
A few basic learning strategies can help you in your career or business. They also can make you the person who always has something interesting to say. You CAN learn more efficiently. Just use a few of the following techniques until they become a habit.
1. Create Anticipation and Curiosity
You learn more effectively with curiosity and anticipation working for you, but how do you create this state of mind? One way is to end each learning session with a question or two clearly in your mind. This creates a sense of anticipation and curiosity that will help you the next time you study. It’s like a TV show going to a commercial at an interesting moment in the program. You want to stay tuned, to see what happens next.
2. Prepare To Learn
When you want to learn new material, expose your mind to it as soon as possible, before you even feel “ready,” or have time to study. The first stage of learning is the part where you look at new ideas and say, “huh?” Do this quickly, however, reviewing everything for a few minutes, and your unconscious mind will start “incubating” the new concepts and finding some way to organize them.
3. Relate What You Know To The New Knowledge
When you sit down to study new material, relate it to what you already know. Compare and contrast things, saying to yourself, “That’s like…,” or “How is that different from…” Autoresponders were new to me when I started my newsletters, but the concept sunk in and motivated me when I thought, “It’s like someone doing all my addressing and mailing for pennies a day.” This prompted the important questions, and I was ready to learn.
4. Use Your Imagination
Changing your perspective is one of the great learning strategies. For example, study with the idea in mind that you will be teaching what you’re learning. As you study something, imagine how you’ll teach it. even hearing the words you will use. This is a powerful way to get a good grasp on new information.
Also, imagine how you’ll use what you are learning. There’s so much information, and so little of it is the truly “important stuff.” But by imagining how you’ll use the new information, you tend to automatically focus on the things you really need to know.
5. Take Breaks
Take a few breaks during learning sessions. Research shows that we remember best what we studied first and last in a given session. Taking breaks creates more ‘sessions’, and so increases the number of firsts and lasts. Getting up and moving around during your breaks can also keep your mind fresh.
If you are stressed relieve your stress first, so you can focus better on learning. Learning happens best when you are stress-free.
6. Revisit What You Learnt
Revisit the new information you have learned within the next 24 hours. It is retained much better if it is refreshed within 24 hours.
7. Compare and Contrast
Habitually compare and contrast things. Tell yourself, “That’s like…,” or “How is that different from…”
The concept of the e-mail newsletter auto-responder was new to me, but I really started to understand how to use it when I thought, “It’s like having someone to do all my addressing and mailing for pennies a day.” I started to ask all the other important questions.
8. Finding Time
What if it took no extra time to learn a new language, take a negotiating course, or study something new and interesting? Start using the dead-time in your day, the time sitting in your car, or on the bus, or in a waiting room. Almost any public library has hundreds of books on tape, and you can even instantly download books on the internet.
This is one of the most under-utilized and easiest learning strategies. If your job is 25 minutes away you spend 200 hours per year sitting in your car going to or from work. Could you learn something useful if you had four hours per week of audio instruction for a year? The only extra time it takes is a few minutes to stop by the library.
To sum up, learn how your mind processes new information. Then try various learning techniques and make the ones that work for you into habits. Oh, and take those personal idiosyncrasies into account too. This is how you develop an effective learning style of your own.
Of course, almost nothing works just by reading it. Why not scan the list above and start using one or two of these learning strategies right now?