How We Learn
Educational psychologists have long recognized that the ways in which individuals process and remember information are a personal preference based on cognitive skills, experiences and personality. The standard elementary school classroom for many decades—children sitting quietly in rows with a teacher at the front blackboard—was superior only in managing to minimize most learning styles. Instead, it provided maximum efficiency for the teacher to complete her lesson plans and maintain discipline. The newer styles of classroom organization with small groupings of children in pods or at separate tables attempts to allow for the use of more learning styles, but some of the assumptions still preclude the use of some preferred or effective learning styles.
Do You Know Your Learning Style(s)?
Your learning style is a not right or wrong issue. You should know it though, if only to take advantage of it at every study opportunity! Your learning style may also influence your career choice – just be careful that you aren’t making a significant life decision based only upon a shallow understanding of the demands of a career. Although there are several ways to divide and describe learning styles, we’ll use the one available in the article, “The 7 Styles of Learning: Which Works for You?” recently written for Edudemic.com.
Edudemic’s Learning Styles
This article outlines seven styles of learning, although they are not mutually exclusive. In other words, a student might have different styles depending upon the subject or may demonstrate a combination of styles.
Visual or spatial learners prefer to use “pictures, images and spatial understanding.” They may even use colored objects—such as highlighters or index cards—to help organize information. The most well known job in this description might be that of an air traffic controller with a Pinterest account!
These learners appreciate information coming to them aurally and were probably the best-served learning style in the traditional classrooms of old. However, this is the way almost all children learn their ABCs. While you might consider a musician first under this category, don’t dismiss other fields such as court stenography or other jobs where one needs to listen carefully for information.
Linguistic learners love their words, whether spoken or written and can often memorize information most easily by writing it down. Writers and reporters might first come to mind, but don’t disregard other fields such as translating foreign languages.
Physical learners learn best by moving their bodies or practicing a new skill or procedure. While we might think of dancers first in this area, athletes, physical therapists and occupational therapists might also be included.
Logical learners are like Spock. They remember details best as the parts of an entire system and their functions within the system. Mathematics are among the first careers considered, but aspects of medical diagnosis can also be considered within this category.
Social learners learn better and faster in groups.
Solitary learners learn best when they study alone and undistracted.
Learning Skills Applied: An Example
WorldWideLearn.com gives examples to students on how to identify their learning styles. For example, let’s assume you’ve begun a first aid class as part of the completion of a medical assistant program. You might be considered an aural learner if you’re up front where you can hear everything the instructor says and try to copy every word. A typical spatial learner might have already looked up pictures of the equipment to be used, while a physical learner might require a bandage in her hands before she even begins to listen.
Learning about your individual learning style shouldn’t be another boring homework responsibility. By taking a short bit of time to find out more about your preferred methods, you might save yourself wasted hours and study more efficiently.