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How to Find Your Learning Style

Different approaches can maximize your potential and improve your quality of learning

A learning style is defined as the way a person approaches, absorbs, understands, expresses and remembers information.

You are unique. None of us has exactly the same personality and none of us learns in exactly the same way. The use of learning styles can maximize your learning potential and improve your quality of learning.

Every student uses a mixture of learning styles. Some may find they have a dominant style of learning, and use other styles far less often. Others may find they use different styles in different circumstances. There is no right or wrong mix, nor are your styles fixed. You can develop learning ability in less dominant styles, as well as further develop styles you already use well.

A learning styles inventory provides a guide to personal learning styles. By asking a series of questions, and then scoring the results, it indicates which are your dominant and secondary styles.

Using multiple learning styles and "multiple intelligences" (MI) for learning is a relatively new approach to education that only recently has been recognized. The Multiple Intelligences Theory was developed by Harvard psychologist Howard Gardner in 1983 and subsequently refined to affirm there are at least seven ways ("intelligences") that people understand and perceive the world.

What's Your Learning Style? Mission: Success

Most traditional education institutions use mainly linguistic and logical teaching methods, with a fairly limited range of learning and teaching techniques. They still rely on classroom and textbook-based teaching, much repetition and pressured exams for reinforcement and review.

SEE ALSO: Focus on Education

In our community college, our primary mission is student success, and we make every attempt to use whatever tools are available to achieve that end. We ask that all new students take the learning styles inventory quiz before entering our program to give them an essential understanding of their results and suggestions to help them in learning and studying.

We also keep a copy of their style inventory in their personal file so if a situation arises and the instructor notices a student is not performing well in class, they can go to the student file, review the inventory results and find the best approach to adapt the learning process and techniques they use in their curriculum and classroom to better serve that particular student's learning needs.

If you can recognize and understand your own learning styles, you can employ techniques tailored to your personal learning needs, overcome limitations in the classroom, study and score higher on exams and tests, and -- most importantly -- reduce your frustration and stress levels.

The standard learning styles are:

  • Aural (auditory-musical): Speaking, listening and music.
  • Logical (mathematical): Logic, reasoning and systems.
  • Physical (kinesthetic): Body, hands and sense of touch.
  • Social (interpersonal): Prefers to learn in groups or with other people.
  • Solitary (intrapersonal): Prefers to work alone and use self-study.
  • Verbal (linguistic): Words, both in speech and writing.
  • Visual (spatial): Pictures, images and spatial understanding.

Using multiple learning styles and multiple intelligences for learning is a relatively new approach to education.

Let's perform a "mock" learning styles inventory and examine the results.

Learning Styles Inventory: Results
User: Demo
These are the results of our "mock" inventory. The scores are out of 20 for each style. A score of 20 indicates a style used often.

Style Scores

Aural

7

Logical

13

Physical

9

Social

3

Solitary

16

Verbal

6

Visual

9

 

 

Let's try to interpret each of the learning styles:

  • Aural -- 7 out of 20: Does not require sounds or music to enhance learning.
  • Logical -- 13 out of 20: Drawn to patterns, classifications, processes, systems, procedures, and rules. May pick up incongruities and flaws in others words, writings, actions, etc. and point them out.
  • Physical -- 9 out of 20: Not usually a physical (hands-on) learner.
  • Social -- 3 out of 20: Introvert (may not perform well in group interaction/discussions).
  • Solitary -- 16 out of 20: Private, introspective and independent; prefers to work alone.
  • Verbal -- 6 out of 20: Good command of language skills, but uses them sparingly; dislikes listening for too long.
  • Visual -- 9 out of 20: Not usually a visual learner; does not require images or pictures to organize information or communicate with others; does not have good spatial sense.

To help you better understand learning styles in general (and discover your own individual style), go to www.learning-styles-online.com, click on "free learning styles inventory (test)" and take the Learning Styles Inventory quiz. Experiencing this first-hand will enable you to interpret the results of the Student Learning Style Inventory and potentially develop new strategies, using multiple learning styles and "multiple intelligences."

Student Learning and Studying Suggestions

Auditory Learner:

  • Read out loud.
  • Get an iPod or a good old-fashioned mini tape recorder and record lectures, medical terminology words, prefixes, roots, etc. (pronounced correctly!) and listen with headphones while you drive to school or do errands.
  • Many textbooks, especially anatomy & physiology and medical terminology come with excellent CDs in the back of the book. Use them as a study tool on your computer.
  • Join or form a study group, or find a study partner.
  • Take notes and read them out loud when studying.

Logical Learner:

  • Use the scientific approach to studying.
  • Create agendas and lists.
  • Classify and group information.
  • Make plans and set goals.
  • Track your progress.

Physical Learner:

  • Take frequent study breaks.
  • When in the classroom, during break, get up from your seat and take a quick walk through the halls or around the building.
  • Study while performing a physical task (read while on an exercise bike or treadmill).
  • Listen to recorded lectures, etc., while jogging or walking.
  • Chew gum while studying (at home only!).
  • Use colored tabs in textbooks to mark important sections so you can flip back and forth easily.

Social Learner:

  • Join or form a study group, or find a study partner.
  • Communicate with classmates and instructors both verbally and non-verbally.
  • Be a good listener.
  • Confer with classmates on class and homework material. Learn from them.
  • Form discussion groups on topics of interest.
  • Explore the ideas and opinions of others.

Solitary Learner:

  • Work independently.
  • Keep focused.
  • Retreat to somewhere quiet to study.
  • Make plans and set goals.
  • Don't spend too much time overworking problems.
  • Try to be a better listener (you start out listening, but your mind tends to wander back to the original problem you were previously focused on).          

Verbal Learner:

  • You love words -- use language to express yourself and understand others.
  • Think in language, both written and oral.
  • Outline material in your own words.
  • Pay particular attention during lectures; listen and absorb the words and meanings.
  • Listen to and explain concepts to others to increase your own understanding.

Visual Learner:

  • Make outlines of everything!
  • Copy what's on the board.
  • Ask the teacher to diagram.
  • Take notes and make lists.
  • Watch videos.
  • Color-code words and research notes.
  • Outline reading.
  • Use flashcards.
  • Use highlighters, circle words and underline.

Bernice Staudinger is the medical coding and billing program coordinator at Sussex County Community College in Newton, NJ, where she has been an educator for 11 years, setting the standard of coding professionalism in higher education at her institution.

References

  1. LearningTheories.com. Multiple Intelligences Theory. Available at: www.learning-theories.com/gardners-multiple-intelligences-theory.html.
  2. Tannahill K. Strategies for Teaching Verbal Learners in the Classroom. Available at: http://teachertipstraining.suite101.com/article.cfm/auditory_learning_style.
  3. Bright Hub. Verbal Linguistic Intellegence. Available at: www.brighthub.com/education/special/articles/13770.aspx.

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