How To Study More Effectively, According To Your Learning Style

Remember that one unit in middle school where the peak of everyone’s interest rested upon finding out which learning style you had, just for the information to get disregarded and remain inactive in your academic life for the years to come? I do. With some free time I’ve had recently, I got the chance to sit down and revisit some of the studies behind learning styles, and I came to remember again how relevant this information actually is, and how it should’ve continued to hold a place in the classroom. In order to yield more inclusive academic practices and procedures, it’s obvious that we must take into account that not everyone learns in the same way. Even though these learning styles aren’t emphasized in the classroom, there are opportunities to take them up for ourselves, in the habits we create around how we study. With spring quarter already picking up speed, here is how you can play on your strengths and study smarter, but not necessarily, harder.

  1. 1. Visual Learner

    Making up one of the two most common learning styles, visual learners recall information better when they have a spatial understanding of the material. If you are a visual learner, you might want to stock up on highlighters, pens, flashcards and sticky-notes. They will be especially useful for annotating text or sketching out diagrams when you want to fully immerse yourself in whatever you need to learn for your next midterm. While you’re at it, instructional videos are helpful as well, so long as they contain visual content to accompany the lecture. Khan Academy videos are a great option for this particular reason. As a visual learner myself, I also like to keep a physical planner with me in addition to my google calendar, because it helps me visualize deadlines, events and the passage of time.

  2. 2. Auditory/Verbal Learner

    The other most common type of learners are auditory learners, who rely primarily on aural or musical stimuli to retain information. If you fall under this category, music, verbal instruction or both, can really help you while studying. If you focus better with noise in the background, try moving your setup to a local cafe (while socially distancing of course!), or putting your favorite study playlist on shuffle before starting your work. If you need to complete a reading, look for the audiobook version of it. In the (physical) classroom, you can try recording important instructions with a device, or if you’re working remotely, looking for audios on the internet can provide a supplement to your notes. When it comes to retaining what you’ve read or learned, reciting the material out loud back to yourself will be really helpful, and can even be more fun with a study buddy to help you out! 

    Letterboard - "Be proud of how hard you are working"
  3. 3. Kinesthetic Learner

    Another type of learning style is the kinesthetic learning style. People who fall under this category learn best when they are receiving active, hands-on experiences with their work. With much more emphasis needed for activities that stimulate the motor cortex, conducting fieldwork might be the key to improving memory, studying more effectively and retaining more information. Being in a natural and outdoor environment instead of a sedentary office space will allow you to be more active and engaged in your work. Some options for kinesthetic learners are studying outdoors (lucky for us, there are tons of beautiful study locations on campus!), forming study groups or enrolling in classes that emphasize a lab component. 

    Woman looking into microscope
  4. 4. Social and Solitary Learners

    A subcategory of learners are social and solitary learners, centered around their preference to be, respectively, studying in groups, or studying completely away from people and distractions. Though a subcategory, this classification is still very real and relevant, and can help you play on your strengths just as much as any of the aforementioned learning styles. Social learners lean towards interpersonal intelligence, and will prosper in study duos, groups or larger learning environments like lecture halls. They retain information better if they have one or more people around them to readily bounce ideas off of. Solitary learners on the other hand, prefer quiet environments that are free from noise, distraction and any activity going on in the background. They lean more towards intrapersonal intelligence, and as a solitary learner myself, I like to reserve a private study room in Powell come exam season. 

Being aware of the different learning styles and knowing which one you have will serve as a tool for you to succeed in your field of work. There are plenty of resources out there that can supplement the way you learn or study. If you are looking to reinforce healthy work habits, or just change things up from your usual routine, these resources are definitely more than beneficial to look into.