Learning scientist and head geek. Formally Labster CTO
Train Your Brain #1: Find your learning style
First things first. In order to be able to improve your learning, you need to know what type of learner you are.
Are you a visual, auditory or kinesthetic (touch/feeling) type of learner?
Once you’ve uncovered that, we can move on to finding the best way for you to take in new information.
In addition to that, we’ll offer you a bunch of goodies in the shape of smart tips and tricks to how you can become a fast and effective learner.
Ready? Let’s get started!
THE LEARNING STYLES
When taking in new information, every person has their own unique way of memorizing, and later recalling, that information.
Therefore, as a first step, we’ll need to make sure that we have a good understanding of what type of learner you are, in order to provide you with the best tips and tricks.
Human brains primarily have 3 different ways of taking in new information. We’ll call these our personal learning styles.
The three main styles are: Visual, auditory and kinesthetic.
It’s important to understand that everyone needs all three types of senses for effective learning. However, each person often has a dominating style. And this is the one we’re going to figure out today!
We’ll begin with 3 little exercises that have one thing in common: they can’t actually be solved.
You cannot solve them, simply because you will be asked to solve the challenge without using a specific sense. Your brain would otherwise normally use this specific sense to solve the type of challenge. So go ahead and see if you can do it without.
IMPOSSIBLE CHALLENGE #1
Try to solve the challenge below, without saying a single word in your head:
8 x 17 = ?
It is not that easy, is it?
IMPOSSIBLE CHALLENGE #2
Ok, now let us make it a little more difficult to solve these impossible exercises. Draw the final box, without making any images in your mind:
IMPOSSIBLE CHALLENGE #3
Finally, try to figure out which face of the dice is represented by the question mark, without imagining any movements in your mind.
Can you do it?
As you can see, each exercise requires special senses in your mind, because of the way your brain functions. Even if you were able to solve the challenges, it is very likely that you would be much faster at solving them, if you were allowed to use the senses in question.
YOUR LEARNING STYLE
Now let us return to the world of more solvable challenges.
With the following small exercise, you will be able to figure out which style is your dominating learning style, which will get you started in the process of improving your learning.
Which type of learner are you?
- Grab a pen and a piece of paper
- Try to recall a past event that you remember very clearly. For instance, a birthday, a party, a concert, New Years Eve or any other memorable event. It doesn’t matter what it is, as long as you remember it very clearly.
- Now write 5 lines about the things you remember from this special event.
Got it? Great! Now, let’s take a look at three different learning styles, and see if you recognize some of the characteristics in yourself.
Visual learners tend to describe past events using images and visual descriptions of:
- Objects in the surroundings
- Relative positions of objects
Visual learners think in pictures and tend to have vivid imaginations. They usually learn best by reading and watching.
The school system is mainly tailored towards these types of learners by providing things like pictures, figures and other visual elements in textbooks and lectures. Because visual learners tend to rely on visuals and often need to see the material in order to learn it, they’ll have a hard time focusing if they have lectures with few visuals.
Alternatively, they will have to visualize the information in their minds, in order to properly remember the information. This also makes learning more abstract things like languages more difficult, and requires many visual representations of how the languages are structured.
In general, they’ll tend to ‘translate’ any informational input into images, which they store in their minds, and recall through images as well.
This type of learner tends to describe past events utilizing the sounds and voices they remember. For example:
- What people said and the way things were said
- Sounds and music that were played at the event
Auditory learners enjoy listening and talking and use these to understand informational input. They may, however, find it difficult to remember things they have read, but will find it much easier to understand and remember when reading out loud.
Historically, the school system has been tailored less for this type of learner, as most information has been less based on audio.
However, with the rapid change in technology, more and more schools are starting to use more educational material on video and through the use of audio sources, which means that auditory learners today have a much better opportunity to use their unique abilities for fast learning.
Podcasts and audiobooks are good examples, and are great ways for this type of learner to take in big loads of information and to retain that information.
When describing past events, this type of learner tends to describe the feelings they remember, such as:
- Proximity to other people
- The temperature
- The mood of the people around them
- His/her own mood
Kinesthetic learners typically learn by doing, and prefer a hands-on approach. They are better at understanding physical rather than abstract concepts, which means they typically don’t require many instructions to assemble things, and have a better sense of their body movement.
In general, they have an advantage in learning and remembering physical activities, but can often find themselves restless when receiving informational input that doesn’t include physical stimuli.
They are often dependent on constant touch and movement, so they’ll typically find creative ways to ensure having this constant stimulus, such as using chewing gum or tapping their legs during classes.
Have you identified the learning type you predominantly display? Sometimes it is difficult or not completely clear, simply because you are a close mix of two types of learners. This is neither good nor bad. Simply keep this in mind when you read through the following chapters.
Before we head on to part 2 of our Train Your Brain guide (where all the juicy tips and tricks begin) we’ll leave you with a quick guide on how to improve your learning, based on what you’ve learned today:
- There are 3 main types of learning styles: Visual, auditory and kinesthetic.
- There are special tricks you can apply depending your own learning style, which you can use to boost your ability to take in new information.
- Most people are a combination of two learning types, and tend mostly towards a primary learner type. It is important that you know your primary style, to be able to find the learning tricks in this guide that work best for you.