Day 1: Method to the Madness: Methods for Effective Learning

“Tell me and I forget. Teach me and I remember. Involve me and I learn.”  ~~ Benjamin Franklin

When it comes to the system of education, every individual is different. In any given classroom there will be those who thoroughly understand the course material, those who have a loose grasp on it, and those who have no idea whats going on and feel as though they don’t belong there. Now assuming that everyone is putting forth an equal and honest effort (this is an ideal world with no slackers), does that mean that the individuals who are not grasping the material are less intelligent than those who are? Not necessarily. More likely than not, the learning style that is being implemented is not compatible with those who are struggling to comprehend the material. Different people perform better with different learning styles. In this blog post I am going to discuss 3 different learning styles and helpful tips for each of these styles.

There are three main cognitive learning styles: visual, auditory, and kinesthetic. Understanding how you learn can help maximize time you spend studying by incorporating different techniques to custom fit various subjects, concepts, and learning objectives. Each preferred learning style has methods that fit the different ways an individual may learn best.

Visual learners typically use visual objects such as graphs, charts, and pictures. They can read body language well and have a good perception of aesthetics. They are able to memorize and recall various information and tend to remember things that are written down. Here are some helpful tips for visual learners:

• Turn notes into pictures, charts, or maps
• Avoid distractions (windows, doorways, etc.)
• Learn the big picture first and then focus on the details
• Make mind and concept maps instead of outlines
• Color code parts of new concepts in your notes
• Use flash cards when trying to study vocabulary

Auditory learners retain information through hearing and speaking. They often prefer to be told how to do things and then summarize the main points out loud to help with the memorization. They often have talents in music as well and may concentrate better with soft music playing in the background. Here are some tips for auditory learners:

• Record lectures and then listen to them
• Repeat material out loud and in your own words
• Discuss materials in your study groups
• Read textbooks aloud
• Listen to wordless background music while studying

Kinesthetic learners like to use a more hands-on approach to learn new material. They tend to be generally good in math and science, and they would rather demonstrate how to do something rather than verbally explain it. Furthermore, these individuals usually prefer group work more than others. Here are some tips for kinesthetic learners:

• Take study breaks often
• Learn new material while doing something active (e.g., read a textbook while on a treadmill)
• Chew gum while studying
• Work while standing
• Try to take classes with instructors who encourage demonstrations and fieldwork

Maybe you fit into one of these styles more than the other; maybe you tend to exhibit characteristics of more than one learning style. Regardless, the tips and tricks listed in this post can help you achieve your learning goals. Try out the different styles and create a method that works best for you.

Adapted from:

Cuyamaca College. (2003). Visual learning. Retrieved July 3, 2008, from:

Landsberger, J. (n.d.). Study guides and strategies: Visual/spatial learning. Retrieved July 3, 2008, from:
Wong, L. (2006). Essential study skills (5th ed.). Boston, MA: Houghton Mifflin.

About Pradheeth R

"Data is the new oil? No, data is the new soil." - David McCandless, TEDGlobal 2010 Tableau Data Scientist/Analyst at Novedea Systems. Southern Methodist University graduate with a double major in Economics and Psychology.

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