What’s Your Style: Determining How You Learn

Over the years, I have developed a system to ensure that knowledge is acquired from my educational endeavors. Highlighting the text helps to keep my mind focused as I read. Writing notes rather than typing them appeases my need for active learning. Finally, the information is committed to my long term memory as I review my highlighted and handwritten notes verbally and visually. During the test, I visualize the highlighted concepts in the textbook or in my notes and am able to recall them to get the right answers.

Unfortunately, most students are unaware of the best ways for them to learn. They are generally held hostage by the methods that others suggest and try to make them work.  While these strategies may be great, they are only effective for a portion of the population.  Students must determine their unique learning style before implementing strategies if they want to get the most from their study time.

There are many theories on learning styles.  The most accepted is the VAK (Visual, Auditory, Kinesthetic). Neil Fleming expanded this to VARK (Visual, Auditory, Reading/Writing Preference, Kinesthetic). The model that I currently like is part of Memletics developed by Sean Whiteley. Whiteley’s categories include the following:

  • Visual (spatial)
    • You prefer using pictures, images, and spatial understanding.
  • Aural (auditory-musical)
    • You prefer using sound and music.
  • Verbal (linguistic)
    • You prefer using words, both in speech and writing.
  • Physical (kinesthetic)
    • You prefer using your body, hands and sense of touch.
  • Logical (mathematical)
    • You prefer using logic, reasoning and systems.
  • Social (interpersonal)
    • You prefer to learn in groups or with other people.
  • Solitary (intrapersonal)
    • You prefer to work alone and use self-study.

The inventory can be taken online, downloaded in Excel, or printed.  Once completed the user receives a score for each category and a visual graph.  The results can be used in conjunction with the following questions to gain a complete picture of a student’s learning style.

  • What suggestions do others give you to help when you study?
  • Which suggestions have helped you get better grades or learn more?
  • What techniques do your teachers use go deliver content?
    • What techniques work best for you when you learn?
    • With what tools do you use to study?
  • Have you ever been told what your learning style is?
    • If yes, what style were you told?
    • Do you agree that this is you style?

While students are able to gain a reasonably accurate understanding of their learning style, there will be some adjustments along the journey to make sure that knowledge is gained. Dr. Marsha Fralick offers strategies on CollegeSuccess1.com to help with the process.