If you find that you’re struggling with retaining information, you may not be approaching your studies according to your personal learning style. What works for a friend may not work for you. Individuals have different ways in which they absorb information and widely varied learning preferences.
Once you have determined your learning style, there are steps you can take to create your own study methods that will be far more effective. Here, we’ve outlined the three basic learning styles and study strategies for each approach.
Study Strategies for Kinesthetic Learners
Kinesthetic learning is also known as ‘tactile learning,’ and it is defined by a preference for learning that involves engaging in physical activities or “learning by doing.” If you’ve noticed that you struggle to sit through lectures, become restless, or fall behind in classes where teachers don’t use the whiteboard -- you’re likely a kinesthetic learner. Study tips for kinesthetic learners:
Study in a space that encourages movement. People may not appreciate your frequent study breaks and constant pacing in a library or a cramped coffee shop. Consider reading your textbook while walking on a treadmill at the gym or replacing your seated desk with a standing desk so you can pace a bit.
Take notes while reading. This is one of the best ways to keep yourself engaged and absorb information as a kinesthetic learner. Personalize your notetaking and outlining. Use different colored pens or highlighters. Draw diagrams and symbols to help retain concepts. Kinesthetic learners tend to understand information best when they use visual cues.
Teach others. Teaching the information you just learned is a fantastic way to remember it. You would benefit from a dedicated study group to meet with regularly. This will ensure that you’re actively engaging with the material, not passively listening as you would during a lecture.
Study Strategies for Auditory Learners
Auditory learners experience difficulty when trying to retain information that they read in books. They also don’t absorb information well by taking notes during a lecture, mostly because it distracts them from listening. Auditory learners comprehend information best by listening intently. Study tips for auditory learners:
Record lectures. Since listening is how auditory learners pay attention, you should take it upon yourself to record any lectures you’re participating in. Most smartphones and tablets have the ability to record audio. Listen to the recordings after class and take notes during this time, not during the live lecture, when you will benefit most from listening to the information.
Talk out your answers. While a study group would be beneficial, you have to be highly selective about who you’re studying with. Auditory learners will pick up any and all information, including inaccurate information. If you can’t find a reliable study group, find a secluded room and read your notes aloud. When studying sample essay questions, read the questions out loud and then speak your answers. Continue to recite and craft your essay out loud until you feel comfortable with the concept and can practice writing your answers on paper.
Use word association. Auditory learners benefit greatly from mnemonic devices, like songs or rhymes. After some practice, your brain will automatically recall the song and the information it represents.
Study Strategies for Visual Learners
Visual learners, as the name suggests, absorb the most information when it is presented in a visual format, whether that is written, in pictures, or in diagrams. Visual learning is the most common of the learning styles. Most school-aged courses for children are taught this way. If you’re good at reading maps and charts and can imagine and retain detailed mental images when reading, then you are likely a visual learner. Study tips for visual learners:
Watch videos. Videos are great resources for visual learners, especially in the age of “explainer videos” and YouTube. There are so many freely available educational videos online, but you have to be mindful of who is publishing the video and decide whether or not they’re a reliable source of information.
Use highlighters and colored pens. Visual learners benefit from using various colored highlighters and pens when reading and notetaking. They should develop their own system where different colors indicate different hierarchies or classes of information. Consistently highlighting or writing facts in specific colors will help visual learner sort out where the facts are in their heads.
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Copy diagrams. Re-draw diagrams and charts from textbooks. If your teacher or professor draws a diagram on the whiteboard, copy it down in your notes. If you find yourself studying and struggling with a difficult concept, search online and see if someone has created an infographic, chart, or diagram to illustrate the information. The more diagrams visual learners can get their hands on, the better.