What’s Your Learning Style?
Some students like to take notes during the lecture while others prefer to focus on what the professor is telling the class or pay close attention to the presentation. Somewhat the same happens when it comes to the week right before the exams: there are students who prefer to visualize the information they need to memorize using various graphs and tables, students who go either through their own notes or textbooks, students who go on YouTube to watch videos on the topic… Just as all people are different and special; their preferred ways of learning are also quite diverse.
Neil Fleming, a teacher from New Zealand who also had an experience of being a senior inspector for over a hundred high schools, became world-wide famous for the VARK (V - Visual, A - Auditory, R – Reading/Writing, K - Kinesthetic) model that he developed. His main idea was that students could be divided into these four groups based on their learning style and, ideally, such a division would benefit both teachers (since it would be easier for them to find a way to present information in a way students with different learning styles prefer) and students (since after finding out about one’s learning style students would also be able to search for various studying methods to make it easier for them to learn).
We encourage you to find out which of these four learning styles fit you the best by taking this short quiz: https://vark-learn.com/the-vark-questionnaire/.
It has to be mentioned that there is no such thing as your one and only true learning style that you have to stick to. The vast majority of students, in fact, have somewhat of a mixture of all of these learning styles and can easily switch between them depending on the situation they are in. Some students simply might develop certain habits (for instance, taking notes during the lecture or using sticky notes to memorize words and dates) that are usually not associated with the learning style they end up getting on a quiz and some of the practices recommended for people of certain learning style might not be a good match to them. Because of that the best way to incorporate this model in your daily life would be not to dive into all of the practices recommended for people of the same learning style and completely disregard all of the other methods one has been using. Even after finding out what your learning style is, one should take those recommendations with a grain of salt and check if suggested tips and tricks actually work for them. Moreover, there are other learning style models which might work better for you – if you are interested in the topic, go on google and feel free to explore this area.
In what follows we will list total of twelve techniques and tricks suggested for students with certain learning styles and, who knows, maybe some of those will make your studying at HSE a lot easier.
- Make sure to ask your professor to send you the presentation from the lecture or search for it on LMS. While going through it both during and after the lecture try focusing on any graphs and pictures in it if there are any.
- When it comes to the notes you take during the lecture, try to visualize and draw the connections between mentioned concepts/theories, time lines – even simple doodling might help you to remember what the lecture was about and make it easier to recall it on the exam.
- Watching online lectures might also help a lot since those usually include various diagrams and pictures used as illustrations to mentioned examples and topics. It might be hard for you to focus on listening to the professor, but you can also put subtitles on – that should help.
- As easy as it sounds, simply listening to lectures is a way to go for you since you learn better when you hear someone talk about the subject matter. In case you skipped a lecture, a better idea would be to come to the same lecture with a different group or ask your friends to explain the most important parts of it to you – their notes probably won’t work for you.
- Similarly to visual learners, you can learn a lot from online courses since they are not that different from just listening to an actual offline lecture. On top of that, you are probably good at multitasking and can easily proceed with doing something else while listening to the lecture.
- Group discussions and seminars where your active participation is important – that’s what can also help you a lot. It doesn’t necessarily have to be a lecturer explaining something for you to understand it better – hearing other students discuss the subject and even talking about it yourself will also work.
Reading and Writing
- How excited would you be if we told you that even searching for something online can be one of your learning techniques? Since you are most likely to be better at learning through written words searching for an article online and reading it would work a lot better for you than hearing someone summarize and re-tell it for you.
- Taking notes during the class, even if it’s simply writing down everything the lecturer put on the ppt, is probably better for you than just listening to the lecturer read the information of the slides. Asking your friends for their notes if you skipped the class would also be perfectly fine for you!
- Before having to present your project or having a debate on one of your seminars, it would be a great idea to write down your main ideas and arguments instead of just keeping all of these thoughts in your head. You can also bring your notes with you to make sure you don’t forget anything.
- Since you learn best through actually experiencing and doing something instead of just learning about it, any case-study-like seminars would be your time to shine. Solving an actual problem or acting out a scenario is a lot more helpful for you than reading an article or listening to a lecture about it, isn’t it?
- You learn through trial and error which is why when it comes to working with any kind of application or website it’s better for you to just dive right into it and start exploring it by yourself. Written instructions or videos on how to use this or that software won’t help you much unless you are also repeating those actions by yourself at the same time.
- If there is any way for you to actually make a physical model of something you are working on – do it. It will not only easier for you to present it to others, but you might also learn something new by just assembling the whole thing together.
If you feel like your learning style and most of the tips and tricks associated with it work for you - keep exploring! You might be surprised by how important it is to know what your own learning style is and make a use of it.
The Atlantic: The Myth of 'Learning Styles'
Prezi Blog: The Four Different Types of Learners, And What They Mean to Your Presentations
Rasmussen College: 4 Types of Learning Styles: How to Accommodate a Diverse Group of Students