To answer this question, you must understand that different people have different learning styles. Style refers to a student’s specific learning preferences and actions. One student may learn more effectively from listening to the instructor. Another learns more effectively from reading the textbook, while another student benefits most from charts, graphs, and images the instructor presents during a lecture.
Knowing your learning style is important in college. Each different style has certain advantages and disadvantages compared with other styles. None is “right” or “wrong.” You can learn to use your own style more effectively.
Your instructors also have different teaching styles, which may or may not match up well with your learning style. Although you may personally learn best from a certain style of teaching, you cannot expect that your instructors will use exactly the style that is best for you. Therefore it is important to know how to adapt to teaching styles used in college.
Different systems have been used to describe the different ways in which people learn. Some describe the differences between how extroverts (outgoing, gregarious, social people) and introverts (quiet, private, contemplative people) learn. Some divide people into “thinkers” and “feelers.” A popular theory of different learning styles is Howard Gardner’s “multiple intelligences,” based on eight different types of intelligence:
Different Types Of Learning Styles
Howard Gardner’s “multiple intelligences,” based on eight different types of intelligence:
- Verbal (prefers words)
- Logical (prefers math and logical problem solving)
- Visual (prefers images and spatial relationships)
- Kinesthetic (prefers body movements and doing)
- Rhythmic (prefers music, rhymes)
- Interpersonal (prefers group work)
- Intrapersonal (prefers introspection and independence)
- Naturalist (prefers nature, natural categories)
VARK Learning Style, which focuses on learning through different senses (Visual, Aural, Reading/Writing, and Kinesthetic):
- Visual learners prefer images, charts, and the like.
- Aural learners learn better by listening.
- Reading/writing learners learn better through written language.
- Kinesthetic learners learn through doing, practising, and acting.
Kolb’s Experimental Learning Style:
- Concrete Experience (Doing): The first step in learning is when the learner actively experiences the activity. This could be anything, from learning a concept to carrying out fieldwork.
- Reflective Observation Of The New Experience (Observing): The next stage is for the learner to reflect and think about the experience. This involves considering any irregularities of the experience and why they happened.
- Abstract Conceptualisation (Thinking): In the third step, the learner thinks about a new concept or idea, or modifies an existing one. They apply this to what they have already observed to conceptualise the experience.
- Active Experimentation (Planning): The last stage is when the learner is confident with the concept being taught and can apply their newfound knowledge to future concepts. They are able to test the model, so they can improve the learning experience.
There are still more systems used by educators to describe the various ways in which people learn. All of these
systems can help you learn more about how you as an individual person and college student learn best.
Just knowing your style, however, doesn’t automatically provide a solution for how to do your best in your college courses. For example, although you may be a kinesthetic learner, you’ll likely still have textbook reading assignments (verbal learning) as well as lecture classes (listening). All students need to adapt to other ways of learning.