What Is Your Learning Style?
Your primary learning style is normally classified as "visual,"
"auditory," or "kinesthetic." There are tests
you can take to see which of these three is used most by yourself,
and you can use this self-knowledge to learn more efficiently.
For example, if 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
In a broader context, though, a persons learning style is
a unique combination of these primary forms of processing information
as well as the way 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.
By learning how you most easily process information, noting
how other factors affect your ability to learn, and then by testing
various techniques, you can develop a unique learning style that
works best for you. The following are some elements you may want
Techniques to Incorporate in Your Learning Style
Get in the habit of studying with the idea in mind that you
will be teaching the same material. As you study something, imagine
how you will teach it, even hearing the words you will use. This
is a powerful way to get a good grasp on new information.
Imagine how you'll use the information. There is so much information
to remember, and so little of it is the "important stuff."
When you imagine how you'll use the new information, you tend
to automatically focus on the things you really need to know.
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
You can learn more effectively with curiosity and anticipation
working for you, but how do you create this state of mind? One
way is to leave a 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 approach the material.
Take breaks. 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.
To learn new material, expose your mind to it as soon as possible,
even before you feel "ready," or have time to study.
This first stage of learning is the confusing 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.
I haven't seen any studies on talking and learning, but it
obviously boosts your learning skills. Socrates told his students
to talk about what they were learning, and it's still good advice
today. Talking is like thinking aloud, which may lead you to
a deeper understanding of the material. The other benefit is
that you remember things better when you talk about them.
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 your own effective
ways to learn.