How to Identify Your Learning Style

How to Identify Your Learning Style

How to Identify Your Learning Style

There is a scene from the movie Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid that I play for all new students in my study skills class. The Sundance Kid, played by Robert Redford, is asked to stand on a line and shoot at and hit a target without moving his body. He is unsuccessful. When he is allowed to put his body in motion he has no trouble completing the task. The Sundance Kid is a good example of a kinesthetic learner, with movement acting as the trigger that signals the brain to work in a more efficient manner.

We are all wired differently, which means there is no one way for everyone to learn or teach. Students using study techniques that are not compatible with their learning style are swimming upstream without realizing it.

There are several good books on maximizing learning styles, and many schools that support students in this area begin with Howard Gardner's work on multiple intelligences. If you're seeking a condensed, student-friendly version, read "Teaching with the Brain in Mind," by Eric Jensen.

The four basic learning styles are:

1. Audio - Students identified as strong audio learners process information best by listening. They usually do well in classes that utilize a lecture format. They might benefit from recording the lecture and listening to it later. And they may benefit from reading the text aloud when they study.

2. Visual - A student who is identified as strong visual learner processes information best by viewing demonstrations, flash cards, charts, graphs, and any visual representation of the material. Visual learners should invest in a good body atlas.

3. Reading - Students identified as strong readers process information best through the printed word. They do well with lots of handouts. If there is a handout in the hands-on class, the reading learner is easily identified. They will be practicing technique with the handout well within reach.

4. Kinesthetic - A student who is identified as a strong kinesthetic learner processes information best by integrating the tactile experience into her learning. Kinesthetic learners do well in the cadaver lab, or by using the school's skeleton as a learning aid. They are best when they are moving or in action. They would benefit from making flash cards.

Keep in mind you may be a blend of all of the above, but if you are identified as strong in one or more areas, pay attention to that and experiment with study aids to find out what works best for you.

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