Everyone who has completed high school has taken the ‘What learning style am I?’ quiz. Generally, there are four types – Visual, Auditory, Read-Write and Kinesthetic. Most of us don’t think much of it at that time, but it is extremely important to understand your learning style because much of your successes or failures can be related to how you interpret and understand the world around you. And knowing your preferred learning style not only helps you in school, but in life, work and personal relationships – a lot of things are linked to how you perceive and understand information. Over the years, I have become more aware of how I best learn and often will ask for visual representation to help explain a concept because I rely on those visual aids or demonstrations to get that point across and understand what is in front of me.
Throughout my school career (public, high school and post-secondary), I often excelled at subjects like art, music and English, and struggled with subjects like math (formerly my nemesis, but not not my friend), chemistry and physics. I attribute part of that struggle to one or two narrow-minded teachers/professors who were not open to exploring alternate ways of explaining/demonstrating their content. Most weren’t out to get the students or fail them, they were just set in their ways of teaching and didn’t want to change their approach because it was what they were comfortable doing. However, everyone is different and therefore learns in different ways. I was lucky to have come across a couple of amazing teachers who could take difficult subjects and use several different approaches to explain one concept so that nearly everyone could understand it in one way or another. I had one high school math teacher who took into consideration the four learning styles and utilized different teaching methods (and took extra time) to teach a concept to his students. And because I was in his class where I had the opportunity to learn in a way that I understood, that was a turning point for me in the world of math and my grades improved moving forward. The way a teacher presents information to students makes a huge difference in learning and understanding, and also impacts whether or not that student will enjoy or loathe learning. To expect a teacher to achieve this feat with each of his/her 30+ students seems unreasonable, which is why the teachers who go the extra mile to explain the content and accommodate every single person’s learning style are the ones we remember in our adult years.
Aside from student life, every day concepts are much easier to grasp when you use methods that reflect your preferred learning style. Understanding a presentation at work might go over very well or very poorly for you depending on the approach the presenter took in expressing their content (keep different learning styles in mind if you ever have a presentation to give). You and your partner can connect better if you show/tell/write to or use visuals (whichever your partner responds best to) to share how you feel or explain why you got angry, scared, excited, etc. Even a simple concept like cooking a meal can be done reading a recipe book, watching a YouTube video, by actioning the steps or by listening to someone instruct – and it is likely that one of those ways will work best for you.
It seems like a very simple concept, but a lot of us forget that we are often partial to one learning style and that the same approach will not always work for everyone. It is important to know how you learn best in order to obtain the right information and ask for follow-up where needed. Next time you are struggling to learn something new (or trying to teach a new concept to someone else), be aware of those different learning styles and approach it with the best method that works for you or the person willing to learn from you.
Here is a link to the popular VARK test. It offers a good range of questions and provides results without having to enter personal information or an email. You can also simply search ‘What’s my learning style’ and get tons of quiz results. Make sure to test and confirm your results in person (don’t just trust the quiz) and move forward trying to maximize your understanding by using methods that work best for you. Here are a few more (each one takes less than 5 minutes and doesn't ask for any personal information):
Edutopia.org (provides a percentage of how dependent you are in 8 different learning styles)
Educationplanner.org (focuses on 3 learning styles and provides a percentage for each)
Proprofs.com (gives you your preferred learning style and approaches to take to utilize it)
I'm a 20-something woman working my way through life in Canada, traveling when I can afford it and seeking out my passions one day at a time.