The Simple Guide to Discovering Your Learning Style

Updated: March 19, 2012

Matt Herndon

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People don’t all look identical. We don’t all have the same taste in music, fashion, food or books. If you’ve ever had a conversation about religion or politics or spoken to a member of the opposite sex, you know that we don’t all think alike.

So why assume that individual learning is all the same way? It isn’t.

In the past, the same learning methods were applied to everyone under the concept that one size fits all. The problem is that it doesn’t. We all have our own individual learning styles that make learning easier and more effective.

If you really want to become an expert, you need to know your learning style.

This short guide can help you discover your learning style and take advantage of it.

Discover Your Style

Take a quiz to find out what your learning style is. A variety of self-administered quizzes are available, and a short, 24-question quiz takes less than five minutes to complete. The results are instant, and they will likely include a mixture of most or all of the different learning styles.

The Different Kinds of Learning Styles

These are descriptions of the different style patterns and how you can make use of them.
  • Visual-spatial: You like to see things drawn out, just like architects and artists do. Diagrams and pictures are your trustworthy guides for learning and remembering.
  • Aural-auditory: Listen to everything, and you’ll probably remember it. Record lectures on MP3 and listen throughout the day.
  • Verbal-linguistic: You are a talker and listener. Put everything in words and you’ll be fine. Read, write and tell stories.
  • Physical-bodily-linguistic: You like to move, just like athletes, surgeons and orchestra conductors. Try studying while walking or doing another rhythmic motion, such as cycling on a stationary bike.
  • Logical-mathematical: It must make sense. Work out your problems as though they are formulas and they adhere to scientific principles. Make a step-by-step outline.
  • Social-interpersonal: You’re a people-person. Form a study group, be a tutor, lead group mini-sessions and talk about your assignments. Exchange feedback with people in person or online.
  • Solitary-intrapersonal: You are a high-achiever and you hold yourself to high standards. Achieve your goals by studying in a comfortable, quiet place, monitoring your own progress toward your goals and learning by connecting new information to old knowledge.
  • Naturalistic: You like nature and the outdoors. Choose animals, plant or geographical topics for your assignments whenever possible. To become engaged and remember facts better, try to imagine your subject matter as ecosystems or organisms in their environments.

Going Back to School

New doors may open once you know your learning style and how to apply it. Going back to school may be daunting if grade school was a struggle for you or you work full-time, but online programs may be viable options.

You can attend virtual classes and complete assignments from remote locations on your own schedule, and you can modify the course to complement your own learning style. (Websites such as Lynda and TeamTreehouse are two of the best.) You’ll learn information faster and retain it better than before so you won’t feel frustrated with slow progress.

The old approach to learning was to throw everyone in a classroom with the same books, a standard lesson plan and rigid approaches to answering questions. Now, people are recognizing the importance of differential instruction to maximize individual styles of education. With facilitated learning, work skills and online courses are easier to master so you can become a true expert.

What is your learning style? How did you figure out how you learn best?

Image via Wikimedia Commons

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