Different Learning Styles in Students

There are many different learning styles and various models that break down learners into different categories. Learning about the different learning styles can help you to identify your own strengths and weaknesses and shape your study habits into the best fit for you. Trying several different types of learning style break-downs can help you to see different sides of your learning abilities and creating a unique picture of your preferences.

The VAK Model
The acronym VAK stands for visual learners, auditory learners, and kinesthetic learners. Visual learners learn best through sight and may respond particularly well to flow charts, images, and other visual representations. Visual learners study best by arranging material in diagrams and other visual methods.

Auditory learners often have the easiest time in the traditional classroom or lecture as they learn best by hearing information. Auditory learners may find that reading aloud is a good study method.

Kinesthetic learners learn by doing–these learners may be well suited to the science classroom and enjoy experiments and projects. Anything that gets them involved in the process will help them to learn best.

Anthony Gregorc’s Learning Styles
Gregorc breaks down learners into four district categories based on two perception styles and two ordering styles. The former is either Abstract or concrete. Abstract learners perceive information in terms of ideas, theories, and emotions, whereas concrete learners learn and understand best by using their five sense.

The ordering styles are sequential and random, sequential learners order information in linear patterns whereas random learners process chunks of information and don’t need them in any specific order. Together, the four learning styles are concrete random, concrete sequential, abstract random, and abstract sequential.

Myers-Briggs Type Indicator
One of the most well-known and in-depth learning style tests is the Myers-Briggs. Taking the test can help you to identify how you learn, how you work with others, and how you best understand the world. There are sixteen different types, made up of four letters each and combinations of the eight different factors.

The first letter is E versus I, standing for extrovert versus introvert. This means where you get your energy: Es get their energy from being social and spending time in group settings. The second letter is similar to the concrete versus abstract of the Gregorc styles. N stands for intuition and S stands for sensing. Someone who is an N will tend to see the world in abstract sense, using their intuition, or sixth sense, to understand information. An S, like the concrete learner, will be more comfortable using the five senses.

The third letter is a T or an F standing for thinking or feeling, whether you make decisions primarily with your head or your heart. The final letter is J or P for judging or perceiving a J will tend to schedule and stick to a plan whereas a P will be more spontaneous and enjoy leaving all of their options open. All together, your Myers-Briggs type would appear as ENTP, INFJ or any of the other sixteen combinations.

Understanding your learning style and how you best process information and work with others can be hugely beneficial during your education. Knowing yourself will allow you to design a study plan, schedule, and set goals that are the best possible fit for how you learn.

The Different Ways Students Learn

One of the fascinating facts about human nature is that we all learn differently. Some of us may find that we can listen to a speech and remember every detail. Others of us may hear the same speech, but only remember what we saw on the handout sheets or slides. Yet another group of us may listen to the speech, read the materials, but remember the details about an incident that directly relates to our own past experience. These variations may not seem critical in normal activities, but the importance of understanding learning methods becomes evident during test preparation and study sessions for an exam.

There is not a right way to learn or a wrong way, just different methods that work in a unique way for each person. The key to better learning is to evaluate each process and consider which technique will improve individual study habits.

Auditory Learning

A person that learns best through auditory methods demonstrates superior speech skills, listens closely and enjoys interactions with others. They learn test materials best by listening to audio and video presentations. Test tips for auditory learners include recording notes, repeating questions out loud and communicating with others about the materials.

Visual Learning

Visual learners need to have a clearly defined picture in their mind to understand the material. They prefer charts and graphs and study well through independent reading. Test tips for visual learners include taking written notes, watching videos of the subject and creating lists and explicit diagrams that provide a memory aid.

Experiential Learning

Someone who excels in experiential learning prefers a hands-on approach and responds well to material that makes a personal connection. They enjoy laboratory experiments, active learning with others and creating realistic models. Test tips for an experiential learner include developing quick memory tools such as flash or note cards, models and notes, that bring the material to a personal level.

Which Type are You?

Being able to identify the most effective learning method will be an aid during online test preparation. A good way to determine your learning strength is to review the characteristics of each type, see which one is the best fit and focus on that method for an upcoming exam. We all learn at some degree from each method, but normally one type dominates our ability to easily retain material.

Try an experiment by first listening to an oral presentation of a specific section of a practice test. See how much you can remember of the material. Then try it again watching a video that clearly describes the subject and retake the practice exam. Third, think of ways to personalize the material and create a model that relates to the subject. Take the exam again and compare which method was most effective in helping you through the learning process. Be sure to allow time between each session to fully evaluate the method. Being able to analyze each learning style and apply the method will benefit both study habits and test results.


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