By Sarah Nguyen
We all have certain ways that we learn and process information. Some prefer lectures and small group discussions. Others learn better through hands-on activities. And still others by seeing a picture, diagram or other visual. So which learning style is best when it comes to your success?
The answer is: yours.
We’re all wired differently, and no one particular style is right or wrong. The key is finding out what your personal learning style is and how to manage it so you can be successful in the college classroom and beyond!
Most learning styles fall into one of three categories: Visual, Auditory and Kinesthetic—or put simply—sight, sound and touch. Use the link at the end of the article to determine which style best describes you. The descriptions below will help you understand how you learn, your style’s strengths and weaknesses, and how you can maximize your style for college success!
If you’re a visual learner, you learn best when reading, seeing or visualizing the concepts in your mind. You respond well to visual aids that include: charts, graphs, DVDs, pictures, and even facial expressions and gestures. Visual learners typically have excellent observation and memory skills.
- Advantages: By thinking and learning through pictures, visual learners are able to create graphs and charts that express clear concepts. The ability to see the story in your mind also makes visual learners strong readers.
- Disadvantages: You may have difficulty learning when visual aids are absent and instructions are spoken instead of written down — particularly in lecture-oriented classes.
- Strategies for success: Sit near the front of the classroom. Use flashcards when studying. Take detailed notes and when possible, create illustrations, charts, diagrams, etc., of the concepts you are learning. Supplement your readings with visual components (i.e. classic literature that has been made into films). Choose study environments that have interesting things to look at and are visually stimulating.
If you’re an auditory learner, you learn best by hearing and listening to information presented in a spoken format as well as verbal communication. Auditory learners typically like to study by talking out loud, enjoy group discussions and debates, and are often skilled in music and foreign language classes.
- Advantages: Auditory learners are able to process and retain information without having to see it or read it. They often excel in lecture-based courses and also when giving speeches or oral reports.
- Disadvantages: You may have difficulty handling distracting noises or understanding a concept if it is not covered by your professor in class. Auditory learners can also be overly talkative and disruptive because of the tendency to chat with students during class
- Strategies for success: Use a recording device for lectures as well as to dictate papers to be typed out later. Talk out loud as you study and participate in group discussions. Ask your professor to clarify or explain if you don’t understand something. Listen to audio recordings, podcasts and more to supplement your learning. Create music jingles and utilize mnemonic devices to help remember information.
If you’re a kinesthetic (or tactile) learner, you learn best through movement and by doing hands-on activities. You enjoy interactive and experiential learning; taking things apart and putting them back together; and tend to do well in lab environments as well as dance, theater, and physical education classes.
- Advantages: Kinesthetic learners are often well coordinated and can easily remember things that were done. They excel when doing hands-on activities such as experiments, art projects, role-plays and more.
- Disadvantages: Because you learn best by moving, sitting still for a lecture or coursework that involves a lot of reading can be challenging. When no physical activity is involved, it can be difficult to remember what you see or hear.
- Strategies for success: Walk, chew gum or listen to music as you study. Use your finger as a guide when reading. Take frequent, short study breaks. Construct models of things you are learning or act them out. Squeeze a stress ball or tap a pencil as you study. Utilize a computer and keyboard to type and help keep your mind active.
Take the style quiz now to discover your learning style!
Remember: Whatever your learning style — be it visual, auditory, kinesthetic or a combination of all three — embrace it! Your style is uniquely you, and learning how to maximize your style’s strengths and minimize the weaknesses will help set you up for collegiate success.
Regent University, a top-ranked Christian university located in Virginia Beach, Virginia, offers both online and on-campus degree programs at the bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral level. Resources including our Center for Student Happiness, Psychological Services Center, and Office of Career & Talent Management are available to help students thrive personally, academically and professionally.