Studying in style with your study style
Have you ever woken up and wondered, “What is my learning style?” I did that this morning, partially because that was the topic for this article, and partially because I had finished all the chocolate I bought from the Co-op during the One Day Sale yesterday, and I needed to think about something else.
Here’s a quiz from Edutopia that can assess your learning style in five minutes (as well as serving as an excellent distraction from shameless chocolate consumption). At the end of the quiz, you’ll be given a rating on each of eight different kinds of intelligence. At this point, you might wonder how you could use this information to choose effective study habits.
Well, you’re in luck (assuming that you were wondering that, and that you do want an answer on this page). Here are some study tips for various learning styles – so look at the learning styles on which you scored the highest, and forgive me if the rest of this blog post reads like a horoscope.
Words are your favourite tool, and since they’re essential to pretty much all the study anyone ever does, use them to your advantage. Express concepts in different ways, tell stories, and play around with words, and you’ll find things stick in your head more easily.
Congratulations! This is the same kind of intelligence which was crucial to the success of people like Albert Einstein and Stephen Hawking. Break things down into logical steps, and the resulting structure will be much clearer to you than it is to most people.
Here’s looking at – everything. Use visual aids and associations to help you organise your thoughts. Typically, a visual-spatially intelligent person will enjoy using lots of highlighters to colour code their notes. (I am not much of a visual-spatial person, but most of my friends are. Sometimes I can’t tell whether I’m looking at their course readers or invitations to a five-year-old’s birthday party.)
You’re a strong independent learner. In the world of university, where a typical polite farewell is, “Happy procrastination,” your level of self-motivation is rare. Harness your motivation by thinking about why you are studying (or doing anything), and what it means to you.
Your people skills mean that you’re best when engaging with others. You could seek opportunities to study and work with others, and to participate in groups of people who share an interest in what you are doing – you’ll bring out the best in yourself when working with other people.
Try to integrate your musical and listening skills into your study approach – experiment with different kinds of music while studying to see what helps you focus best. Make songs, rhymes, or other catchy-sounding mnemonics to aid your memory. There is a vast pool of possible ‘tricks’ that musically intelligent people can use, so make try out heaps of things to gather a sound set of study skills.
You like to move it. Getting up and walking around, as well as associating movements to concepts and ideas, will help your cerebellum to fire up the rest of your brain. There are many academic contexts (such as exams) in which it is not possible to move around much, so try out small movements, such as arm and leg stretches and squeezes that you can try at your desk to relax and stay focussed.
Typically, naturalistic learners do very well in natural sciences such as biology and botany. However, they can be found in any discipline, since they have excellent data analysis skills. If you’re a naturalistic learner, you like systems that fit together and make sense, and you can understand complicated systems better than the average person. Try to break down any material into its components and the relationships between them – yours is the perfect mentality for mind-mapping.
And that’s my horoscope-esque guide to learning styles. I’m off to do something that definitely isn’t purchasing and eating chocolate.*
*I lied. That’s exactly what I’m going to do.