One of the best ways to improve your research methods or academic performance is to discover your learning styles. Some people favor a particular way of learning, while others find that a blend of techniques work best for them. I've also found that learning styles can change over time; what may have worked with you while you were in school, for example, may shift when you are learning in a professional environment.
Each learning style uses different sections of the brain. The most effective learning styles engage many parts of the brain at the same time. Mix your styles to discover what works best for you. Adapt your learning styles to suit whatever works best for you.
Here are some typical learning styles:
Aural learners tend to play musical instruments or enjoy singing. They learn best through active listening, by taking part in discussions, attending lectures, or by listening to educational recordings. They tend to read their notes out loud, record work as notes to play to themselves, and want to pair up with a friend to study.
You may be an aural learner if the following questions resonate with you:
- Are you good at singing and/or do you play a musical instrument?
- Do you remember songs easily?
- Do you notice music playing the background of films and other media?
- Do you use rhymes or rhythms to remember things
- Do you dislike silence and prefer to have music playing in the background?
These learners are good at math and work through problems. They recognize patterns and links between themes, and can group together related pieces of information. They tend to make lists of things to do, ranking them in order.
You may be a logical learner if the following questions resonate with you:
- Do you recognize patterns and see connections easily?
- Are you good at math and science?
- Do you work through problems in a logical way?
- Do you like making lists of things to do and putting items in order?
- Do you enjoy brain-teasers and games like sudoku or chess?
Physical learners like being active and find it helpful to think through problems while exercising. To learn how something works, they would prefer to take it apart than read the instructions. They are hands-on learners. They are more likely to copy out their notes, move around the room while reviewing, and want to try out different places where they might work of study.
You may be a physical learner if the following questions resonate with you:
- Do you enjoy sports and physical activities?
- Are you skilled with your hands, or enjoy crafts?
- Do you enjoy fixing things and taking things apart to see how they work?
- Do you find it hard to sit still for long periods of time?
- Do you find that exercising or doing physical activity helps you think things through?
Verbal learners are comfortable expressing themselves through speech and writing. They are avid readers, with good vocabularies. Verbal learners benefit from learning by using their speaking and writing skills.
You may be a verbal learner if the following questions resonate with you:
- Do you find it easy to express yourself verbally and through writing?
- Do you love reading and read all kinds of things?
- Do you enjoy word games, crosswords, or puns?
- Do you have a good vocabulary and like to use new words?
- Are you good at explaining things to people?
Visual learners have good spacial awareness and enjoy drawing. They are the doodlers in class! These leaners use pictures, mind-maps, and diagrams to organize information and plan their tasks, and use color-coding to highlight different themes. They rewrite notes and draw sketches to jog their memories.
You may be a visual learner if the following questions resonate with you:
- Do you like using mind-maps with colors and pictures?
- Do you draw diagrams to see the links in processes?
- Do you have a good sense of direction and find it easy to use maps?
- Is it easy to visualize objects and plans in your head?
- Do you enjoy drawing and doodling?
I learn best using a mix of logical and verbal. I love to do lists and writing notes as I learn.
What are your learning styles?