What is Your Learning Style?

Understanding how you learn is as important as knowing how the process of learning occurs. Not everyone learns by picking up a book and reading through it. Some people learn better by listening and others learn better by interacting with the information they are receiving. By understanding your preferred method or learning style, you will be able to find ways to make your educational experience more meaningful and become a better online student.

Every person has a unique approach to or preferred method of learning, which can include one particular learning style or a combination of more than one. Perhaps you have said, "I don’t enjoy listening to a lecture" without understanding why you aren’t able to learn from that type of information delivery. Learning styles, or descriptions of the way that we learn, provide an explanation of how we interact with information and process it. We rely upon our preferred learning style when we consciously decide to acquire new knowledge, regardless of the environment that the learning occurs in.

Once you understand your preference, you will know what circumstances provide you with the best opportunity to learn. In addition, if you choose an environment that is not developed for your particular learning style, you can find methods of adapting your preferred style. For example, some students may find that an online classroom environment is not a perfect match with their preferred learning style, such as those who prefer a hands-on approach to interacting with new information; however, it is still possible to work in that environment if you can learn other ways of processing information.

Learning Style Assessments

Learning occurs every day because of our interactions with people and information that is read or heard. However, most people do not have a clear understanding of their learning preferences, which means you may not know how to maximize your potential. There are four assessments that are commonly used to help students understand their preferred learning style, but anyone can utilize these assessments to increase their self-awareness of how they take in information.

However, it’s possible that even after taking one or more of these assessments, you may believe that it does not accurately describe your learning skills and preferences. The results of these assessments depend upon the answers you provide or the choices you make, so your outcome may vary at times. But even if your results vary, over time there will still be a consistent theme that will allow you to identify your approach to learning. For example, if a visual learning style appears frequently for most of the assessments, you can conclude that it is your preferred method of interacting with information.

Learning Styles and Online Classes

For online students, a visual learning style is the best match because of the visual nature of the online classroom. That being said, institutions recognize the need to address other learning styles, so many are adding supplemental features. For example, auditory learners are being offered options that include materials provided as audio files, in addition to the traditional textbook. Students with a hands-on preference for learning have the greatest initial challenge for working in an online environment; however, they can adapt to the situation by being actively involved and participating in class discussions and group projects. If you have identified a preferred learning style and find that you are not provided with techniques or resources to help you process information effectively, talk to your instructor. Use their guidance and suggestions to help you become a better learner.

As you read through these descriptions, you have likely identified methods of learning that you are using now. This will help you understand how you can be successful as a student because you can develop learning strategies based upon your preferences. For example, if you are primarily a visual learner, you will likely enjoy reading the textbook. For students who are auditory learners, you will find that videos or audio clips can enhance the process of learning. For students that prefer a hands-on approach to learning, you will discover that interactive activities, such as presentations and demonstrations, offer the most meaning for you. Everyone has a unique way of interacting with information and processing it. This is part of the knowledge acquisition process, which is an ongoing component of lifelong learning, whether you are learning through everyday experiences or participating in an online class.

- Dr. J

About the Author

An education writer for CollegeDegrees.com, Dr. Bruce Johnson has had a life-long love of learning. Throughout his entire career, he has been involved in many forms of adult education, including teaching, training, human resource development, coaching, and mentoring. Dr. J has completed a MBA and a Ph.D. in the field of adult education, with an emphasis in adult learning within an online classroom environment. Dr. J’s background includes work as an instructor (online and on-ground, undergraduate and graduate level), faculty developmental workshop facilitator, and faculty mentor. He has published articles related to adult education and the focus of his doctoral studies and dissertation involved adult learning within an online classroom environment.

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