In most study skills courses, students take a learning styles inventory to discover how they best learn. Some students find this knowledge tremendously helpful. Others do not: “What does it matter if I know how I learn when the professor is only going to teach one way, anyway?”
Well, to that second group of grumpy students, I answer, “It can matter quite a bit.” No matter what style of instruction your instructor has, you can tweak the information to fit with your own learning style in order to better remember and synthesize.
Yesterday afternoon, I took several online learning styles assessments: I wanted to see if they were consistent and if they presented helpful information after giving out the score.
Befitting someone who works with books, my scores on all the tests showed a strong preference for learning by verbal methods: reading and writing. I need my lectures to be organized. I also like to learn alone. (My favorite group project of all time was when the other members dropped the course, and my instructor didn’t notice. So I gave the entire presentation by myself!)
Now I suppose one way I could use this information would be to go to my professor’s office and say something like, “I need no charts. All your lectures must be outline perfect. And I don’t do groups.”
But a more effective thing would be to find ways to incorporate my learning style into my study habits. For example, if my professor gives terribly disorganized lectures, jumping from one train of thought to another, then I can start leaving lots of white space in my notes so that I can go back and add material when he returns to that first point. Or I can take my notes on my laptop where moving things around is easily accomplished.
On the other hand, a more visual learner may make diagrams out of the lecture. An aural learner may need to tape the it.
The key, though, is not to spend time looking for the chemistry instructor who teaches through dance, but to embed your learning styles into any course so that learning takes place.
Here are two I took yesterday. They all come with some helpful information for incorporating your style into any classroom situation: