by Chris Towery

Using Your Learning Style to Maximize Home Study: Part I, MASSAGE Magazine

When it comes to getting an education, we all have different ways of learning, or learning styles. Determining your personal learning style involves examining the physical and cognitive methods you use to process, retain and relay new information. Most education experts group learning styles into three types: visual learners, auditory learners and tactile learners.

For example, visual learners learn best when they can see the material being taught and have it mapped out or outlined using visual guides, such as a PowerPoint presentation. Similarly, auditory learners get the most benefit from hearing new material being discussed and explained, as with lectures. Tactile learners prefer experiencing new material through hands-on labs and demonstrations. Frequently, your own learning style will combine elements from more than one of these types, but in most cases, one of them will be dominant.

Knowing your learning style can be extremely valuable for enhancing your home study experience. Research has shown students who know their own learning styles and use that knowledge to facilitate their studies often earn higher grades. By understanding the ways in which you learn best, you can not only choose home study courses that best fit your learning style, but you can also tailor your study habits to suit your learning style, thereby capitalizing on your strengths and minimizing your weaknesses.

This is the first in a series of articles that will discuss the three types of learning styles and offer tips for customizing your study skills to fit with each particular style. In this initial article, we’ll look at visual learners.

Learning Type: Visual Learners

If you’re a visual learner, then you respond best to material that’s written out or presented in a visual format using lots of diagrams and graphics. You’ll typically learn best in classes that utilize overhead projectors, computer screens, blackboards, slide shows, charts, outlines, handouts, animation and videos. Visual learners often take detailed notes, highlight their texts, use outlines and develop flow charts to gain a better understanding of the material presented. 

If you’re a visual learner, try to incorporate the following study habits to facilitate the learning process:

Study tips for visual learners:

  • Make charts, outlines, graphs, lists, timelines or diagrams to map out important concepts.
  • Use color-coded sticky notes or highlighters to illuminate important passages in your notes and textbooks.
  • Look at the pictures, illustrations and charts in a text before you begin reading.
  • Take courses that feature lots of videos, animation and live demonstrations.
  • Study in total quiet or use earplugs to maximize your visual acuity.
  • Picture in your mind the concepts and techniques you’re trying to learn. 
  • Select teachers that use many visual aides during their lectures.
  • Use mnemonics, acronyms and concept maps to memorize information.
  • Take notes on everything you’re taught, and then organize those notes to study for exams.
  • Use flashcards filled with words, diagrams and images to study for exams.  

Click here for custom study tips for auditory learners.

Chris Towery is the former associate editor of MASSAGE Magazine and is currently a full-time freelance journalist. He has written hundreds of articles for more than 20 different magazines, newspapers and custom publishers. Much of his recent writing has been for the complementary and alternative health-care industry. To contact Towery, e-mail cmreuben@yahoo.com.

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