We have different ways of learning
Have you ever noticed, when learning a new skill, that you pick it up easily in some contexts, but it’s more challenging to retain new information in others? We all learn a little differently. Educators refer to these differences as “learning styles”. Learning is most efficient when we set up the contexts that support our learning style, i.e. our own individual style of taking in new information.
How do educators distinguish between learning styles?
Educators describe learning styles in a couple different ways. The first model they use to describe styles of learning distinguishes between the senses we use most prominently when taking in new information.
Model one: Sense-led
We might learn predominantly by:
- hearing new information (auditory)
- seeing new information (visual)
- doing something with our body to take in new information (kinesthetic)
Some educators also include taking in new information through reading and writing as its own style.
This way of distinguishing learning styles is familiar to many people. You might already recognize that you learn more easily if you watch someone show you how to do a new task (visual learner), or it might be enough for you if someone simply describes it verbally (auditory learner). For others, they might understand a new task most readily if they do the task themselves, while possibly having someone talk them through the process (kinesthetic learner). Finally, others may learn readily by reading about how to do a new task.
Of course, it’s likely that while you may predominantly favor one style of learning, some combination of these best supports your learning process.
Model two: Process-led
The second model that educators use to describe learning styles is by describing how we predominantly process new information.
We might process new information:
- more actively or more reflectively
- more sensing or more intuitively
- more visually or more verbally
- more sequentially or more globally
This second way of distinguishing learning styles may be less familiar to you, so let’s explore these a little further.
Active learning vs. reflective learning: Do you readily integrate new information as you’re actively doing a new task, or do you need time to reflect on the task outside of the activity to understand more fully?
Sensory learning vs. intuitive learning: Do you find that you understand new information best when you focus on discrete facts or when you focus on the broader meaning of the information?
Visual learning vs. verbal learning: Do you integrate new information more easily by seeing it or by hearing, reading, or talking about it?
Sequential learning vs. global learning: Do you understand a new task more fully if you approach it step by step in a linear fashion, or do you grasp new tasks best when you are presented with a big picture look at the task before diving into each step?
What does this mean for me?
You might retain information more easily when you take it in, in one way as opposed to another. Or you may feel you learn best when you take in information in some combination of these ways. The important thing is that you get to know yourself and what works for you.
Experiment with learning the information in different ways. Watch. Read. Listen. Do an activity. Is there one way that feels easier to you or one way that you struggle with? Do you retain information better when you hear it out loud or when you read it as text? Does note-taking help you retain what you hear or see? Or do you find it distracts you?
Similarly, take note of how you prefer to process information. Are you more sequential or global? Do you like to start at the beginning and go step by step or do you like to preview the whole project and get a “big picture” idea of where everything is going before you dive in? Do you process information more actively as you’re doing an activity, or do you need time to reflect on what you’ve learned to integrate new information?
There are lots of different ways in which we learn. Learning more efficiently depends on you! Think back to the last new skill you learned or the last course you took. What worked for you and what didn’t? What channels did you use to take in the information and how did you process it? Use what you know about your own learning styles to intentionally set the context for efficient learning.
Learning styles and the 3D Muscle Lab course
Each lesson in the 3D Muscle Lab course gives you the opportunity to listen to and watch the lesson, read the assignment, do an activity and take a quiz related to the information – so you can learn in a way that works for you!