There are several theories about how we learn. What has become clear is that we don’t all have the same preference when it comes to the style of learning and studying we use.
Before enrolling on home study courses of any kind, examining how you learn best – and the learning style you enjoy most – will show you how you absorb information best, and can be useful when completing assignments too.
The four broad categories of visual learner, reader and writer, auditory learner and kinaesthetic learner have been around for some time and are popular for introducing the idea of learning styles. But, as you read through them, don’t try and categorise yourself – you may find you take elements from each category and don’t neatly slot into one specific learner ‘type’.
But the information it will give you is invaluable.
You may learn more effectively when you have a picture of an idea or concept in your mind. When confronted with a mass of information, you may look at graphics and diagrams first. Visual learners tend to be neat and organised and you may struggle with large swathes of text.
If you think this describes you, when it comes to studying home study courses, try the following:
- Mindmap, Overview.
- Include images in your course notes
- Mind maps can be an effective alternative to bullet points – include plenty of colour too
- Use colour on flashcards and highlight key points in your text using different colours too
- Back up your studies with images and video, such as those on YouTube
- Replace words with symbols in your notes.
Reading and Writing Learner
Notes, Book, Paper, Note, Education, Notebook, Page
Some students write pages and pages of notes, spending many hours reading. You may not find exams or assignments difficult, but prioritising and organising your work may be less systematic than you would like.
If you enjoy reading around your subject online or by using your local library, these learning tips are for you:
- Those that enjoy the reader/writer style find that writing their notes out a few times is a great way for information to sink in
- Create systems to your work by using lists
- Make notes in your words on your test books and course notes – sticky notes also work well
- Find quizzes on your subject online and use these as a learning resource
- Read around your subject, including your own notes
Some students pick up most information from what they hear and see, rather than what they read on paper or online.
Woman, Girl, Headphones, Music, Listen To, Relaxes
If you enjoy discussions and debates, talking through ideas and so on, then you could be an auditory learner. Verbal instructions may be easier to remember than written ones. With a strong memory, you are a great communicator but may find making notes or reading are of little interest.
If this describes you, try these learning tips:
- Record your notes or lectures and play back later
- There are podcasts on all kinds of subjects and topics – download these and play them several times
- Reading aloud can help to access the information contained in text
- Explain the subject or topic to a willing friend or family member
- Study in a quiet environment – music may distract you
If you are a sporty person or enjoy crafts, you may find the kinaesthetic approach to learning to be a comfortable and enjoyable way to study.
Stress, Stress Ball, Red, Face
As a learner, you will pick up information by doing something, such as building something or experimenting. You may be an energetic person but may find it hard to concentrate from time to time.
If you think this describes you, these learning tips should help you with home study courses;
- Keep your hands busy when studying – doodle on a notepad or use a soft ‘stress ball’
- Act out the situation or find a practical task
- Get practical experience in your subject area
- Study in short, sharp periods of time
Mix It Up!
Although you want to learn, and do so to the best of your ability, sometimes it does you good as a student to mix things up a little.
For example, if you are normally a reader and writer learner, why not take some time out from your normal learning technique and enjoy a podcast on your subject instead? Focus completely on what is being discussed or said. Or why not watch short YouTube clips?
Knowing where your strengths lie will make tackling assignments and assessments easier and, in the long run, more successful.
Which learning style appeals to you?