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How Do You Learn Best? How to Tell

Jul 17, 2013 Jennifer Williamson, Distance Education.org Columnist | 0 Comments

Everyone learns a little differently. And if you’re taking classes online, you’ll find that many classes offer their materials in numerous different formats. You may find yourself reading a lot of articles and books, writing papers, doing projects individually and in groups, listening to podcasts or watching videocasts, and collaborating with your peers all in the same class.

But some classes and programs lean more toward one or two styles than others. And especially as an online learner at an accredited online degree program it can help to know what your strengths are—so you can seek out programs that cater to those strengths. Here’s an overview of the types of learners there are—and the symptoms that one of these strengths is yours.

Visual learners

If you’re a visual learner, you learn best by seeing new things. Diagrams, charts, and visual aids are all especially helpful to you. If something is laid out in an easily-understood, at-a-glance way, you’ll probably be quick to understand it.

If you’re a visual learner, you probably take a lot of notes—and you may find yourself making your own charts and graphs to help understand information. If you’re in a traditional classroom, you may sit in the front of the class a lot—the better to see what’s on the chalkboard. You may find yourself closing your eyes to better visualize something, and you might be attracted to illustrations that use bright colors. You might also learn well by seeing things written down. Visual learners often benefit from learning environments that are quiet and free of distraction.

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Auditory learners

If you’re an auditory learner, you learn best through hearing. You’re probably one of those rare people who actually absorbs information well at lectures. You gravitate toward podcasts and videocasts in the online classroom, and sometimes you record yourself reading your notes aloud so you can listen to them later. Repeating things aloud can also help you learn them faster.

Auditory learners often don’t need to sit at the front of a traditional classroom, because what the professor is saying is more important than what’s being written on the board. You may read lessons aloud if you have trouble understanding them, and you may be more easily confused by lessons that are visual-heavy.

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Tactile learners

Tactile or kinesthetic learners learn best by doing. If you’re a tactile learner, you probably like group and individual projects that let you apply what you’ve learned in a practical setting. You may enjoy experiments and hands-on projects in the classroom context that help you experience the things you’re learning in the real world.

If you’re a kinesthetic or tactile learner, you may have a difficult time sitting through a traditional class; online learning may actually be better for you, because it allows for breaks whenever you need them. You may have an easier time remembering what you did rather than what you saw or heard. Your hobbies may be active ones, such as cooking or jogging.

If you’re not sure which way you learn best, pay attention. What do you find yourself doing most when you really need to learn something quickly before a test? What types of learning do you gravitate toward in your classes—and which lessons do you most look forward to? If you know yourself and what environments are best for you to learn in, you’ll be able to look for programs and classes that offer lots of materials that cater to your type of learning—and school will be easier for you. The better you know yourself and how you learn, the better you’re likely to do in school.

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