Monday, July 14, 2008

The Art of Learning Better: 101 Tips to Find and Fit Your Learning Style

From our friends at The Art of Learning Better: 101 Tips to Find and Fit Your Learning Style

Sometimes, information is hard to understand just because it’s presented in a manner that just doesn’t quite appeal to the way we like to learn best. While it isn’t always possible to take every class or complete every project in a way that fits into your individual style, there are ways that you can help to ensure that you’re making the most of the material at hand. Here are a few tips to help you start improving your learning experience by helping make it work a little better with your needs, whether you’re a visual, auditory or kinesthetic learner.

Visual Learners

Those who are visual learners understand concepts and ideas better when they are presented in pictures, text, drawings, graphs, charts or other visual representations. Here are some tips for making your coursework and schooling a little easier if you’re a visual learner.


Keeping your stuff together and staying on task can sometimes be a challenge. These tips can give visual learners a leg up on organization.

  1. Color code. If you color code classes, assignments or anything else you’ll be able to identify and locate these items just at a glance. It can be helpful if you’ve got a habit of being messy.

  2. Make lists. One way to organize your thoughts is to put them on paper or on the computer. Once you’ve created this visual representation it will be easier to see what you need to get done.

  3. Keep like materials together. Creating groups can be one way to keep yourself visually organized. If you’ve got books and notebooks for one class, try keeping these together.

  4. Diagram how things are related. Whether you’re trying to get research done for classes or just figuring out anything in your day to day life, you can benefit from creating a diagram or mind map to show how elements are interconnected and how you need to proceed.

In Class

Keep focused in class with these tips.

  1. Always take notes. If you have a hard time remembering things that you hear, make sure to write them down. This can give you a visual reference later.

  2. Visualize how to spell words. Spelling words in your own language or in another can be hard for visual learners who are just hearing them. Tying spellings, especially difficult ones, to visual cues can make it easier.

  3. Relate things through graphs and charts. If your class is filled with facts and figures it can be helpful to lay them out in ways that make more sense to visual learners, like graphs, charts or diagrams. Your information will be more organized and easier for you to understand, helping you in the long run.

  4. Use several colors. Some visual learners find that it helps to use different colors of ink to highlight different areas of their notes. Vocab words can be in one color, definitions in another and so on.

  5. Sketch. Whether you’re taking a class on architecture or human anatomy it can be helpful to sketch out concepts sometimes. It will help you to better remember and understand how they work later.

  6. Look at your professor. Because visual learners are so dependent on seeing things to understand it can help to sit near the front of the class and look at your professor. This can alert you to subtle body language and help you stay more engaged and focused.

  7. Copy information off the board or overheads. If your professor is providing you with visual information to use in class, copy things down to your own notebooks, even if you can look it up later.


Studying can be a bore sometimes, but you can make the time you spend more effective with these tips.

  1. Create a timeline. When dealing with a sequence of events you’re trying to remember or understand it can be useful to lay them out in chronological order on a timeline. This way, you’ll be able to more easily visualize how things changed over time.

  2. Make outlines. Whether you’re writing a paper or just condensing your notes to key concepts, creating an outline is a great way to organize information in a way you can see.

  3. Study in large blocks. Visual learners are often very good at concentrating for long periods of time. Take advantage of this and get your studying out of the way in big chunks.

  4. Diagram anything you can. Diagramming can be a good way for visual learners to understand a variety of topics, from geological processes to sentence structure.

  5. Make lists of important topics. Listing out the most important topics from your notes or readings can be a good way to help you remember the key elements and provides a visual reference for later.

  6. Watch videos on relevant topics. Videos can be a big help to visual learners when trying to understand coursework. Search the Web for videos that apply to your topic to see if you can find some great visual tools.

  7. Take notes on reading material. While understanding reading material is generally second nature to visual learners, taking notes can help improve the amount of information you retain and gives you something to study from later.

  8. Use flashcards. Using images or text on flashcards can be a great way to associate concepts or vocabulary words with visual representations. Create separate piles for cards you answer correctly and those you miss. Go through the missed ones until you can get them all right.

  9. Highlight, circle and underline. Creating visual cues for yourself as to what parts of your notes or reading are most important can be a a great way get more out of the time you spend working on homework and studying.

  10. Look for photos. If there are images of what you’re learning about in class try to find them. This can often be all you need to understand even the most complex of concepts.

  11. Implement mind maps. Mind maps can be a great way for visual learners to organize information from a class or to come up with ideas for projects and papers.

  12. Use the computer. Much of our interaction with the computer is done in a visual manner, and this can form an ideal learning environment for visual learners. Check the Web for programs and sites you can use to improve your learning experience.

  13. Try creating mental images. When you’re struggling to remember things, sometimes creating a mental image for yourself can help, especially when it comes to things that aren’t visual by nature.

  14. Find visual representations of audio recordings. If your class relies on historical recordings or other audio materials try finding text versions of the same things. This can be a great way to help you get some visuals and possibly remember more.

  15. Keep things quiet. Most visual learners are very easily distracted by noise in the background or other people talking around them when they’re trying to do work or study. Find a quiet place like the library to do your work.

  16. Engage your imagination. Visual learners love to use their imaginations and think of new things. Use your imaginative abilities to come up with new ways of seeing topics in class, ideas for papers or great ways to visually represent an idea.

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