TO be a good learner and do well at school or any other learning platform, you should try and figure out what kind of learner you are and then use the particular sense that you favour to become better!

OUR senses help us to perceive and experience things, this in turn leads us to gather information and process it. This finally makes us understand, learn and remember things. In doing this, we all use our five senses but most of us tend to favour one or two particular senses more than others. Thus our learning style depends upon the sense that we tend to use more than others.

To be a good learner and do well at school or any other learning platform, you should try and figure out the kind of a learner you are and then use the particular sense that you favour to become a better learner.

There are three basic types of learning styles — visual, auditory and kinaesthetic. Some experts have come up with more categories of learners but, for simplicity’s sake, let us look at these three today.

The auditory learner learns best from listening to a lecture or explanation; the visual learner needs to see pictures, graphs or films to learn; and the kinaesthetic learner needs active participation.

Most people use a mix of these learning styles, though one style is more dominant and favoured. However, it should be noted that some people also use different styles in different circumstances. Research shows that different style uses different parts of the brain.

You can also further develop the styles that you favour and improve the less dominant ones with practice. But first let us look more closely at these three main styles of learning so that you can know which one comes easily to you. And if still you are unsure, then try the learning tips for each of these types and see which ones work best for you.

VISUAL LEARNERS

Visual learners think in terms of pictures. For them, maps, graphs, charts and other visual learning tools are extremely effective to learn something. They remember things best by seeing something written or a picture of it.

Learning techniques

• Reading diagrams, handouts or from a textbook, and following a PowerPoint presentation.

• These visual learners can study alone as they can then concentrate on what they are seeing and then trying to understand and remember them.

• Breaking up the learning material into points, bullets, charts and diagrams are effective ways for them to learn.

• Use pens and markers of different colours to make notes so that the text in multiple colours helps you to see and remember it later. Colour code words and research notes.

• Highlight, circle and underline key words and sentences.

Auditory learners

Auditory learners think in terms of sounds and want verbal instructions as they need to hear the information to absorb it. They like to learn through lectures, discussions and reading aloud to themselves. They are good at handling group work and oral examinations.

Learning techniques

• Attending lectures and participating vocally in class, particularly in class discussions.

• Reading out loud to themselves and studying with a partner or group.

• Record notes or learning material on a tape/MP3 player and listening to them.

• Using mnemonics and words links.

• Making up songs or rhymes of the subject matter, facts, dates, names, etc.

• To remember difficult names and terminology, say the words slowly in syllables so that you hear it clearly and your mind processes it well.

Kinaesthetic learners

Kinaesthetic learners are doers or hand-on learners who learn best by moving their bodies. They will not sit still in the class, they often wiggle, move their feet and are generally hyperactive.

They need to experience what they are learning — through touching, feeling and experiencing. As they work well with their hands, they are fond of writing or physically manipulating the information. But as they are fidgety and can’t sit for long at one place, they are a bit of a misfit in the traditional classroom where students have to sit quietly. Kinaesthetic learns also tend to have poor handwriting and spelling.

Their strength lies in great hand-eye coordination, and they are excellent experimenters, good at sports, art, drama, working with tools and have high levels of energy.

Learning techniques

• Flash cards are perfect for kinaesthetic learners as this way the learning process becomes fun.

• They should act out, stand or move while learning something.

• Experiment based learning is perfect for them.

• Doodling during lectures can help them to concentrate and their energy will have an outlet, letting them concentrate on the lecture.

• They should take regular short brakes while studying because forcing them to sit and study for long periods, even for one full hour at a stretch will be of no use.

• The use of examples to make them learn something is better than just presenting them with plain facts.

• Discussion — talking about what they have learnt — is a great way to reinforce and recap what they have learnt.

• Do something that is not very distracting — such as slightly tapping with the pencil or squeezing a stress ball — so that the kinaesthetic learner’s urge to do something with their hands is satisfied and they can concentrate on what they have to learn and not become restless soon.

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