Imagine you are in your agriculture classroom. Your teacher starts class and says you are going to learn something new today that you will be tested on tomorrow and gives three options: learn about the new subject by lecture and discussion, through a PowerPoint or video, or through an activity. Which way would you prefer?
We each have a preferred way of taking in new information – a preferred pattern of learning, or learning style. If you know which style works best for you and take time to cater to it, you can learn more quickly, study more efficiently, retain information better, understand things more deeply, improve performance on tests and contribute more effectively on teams!
So, let’s talk about the three basic learning styles. We learn by seeing (visual), hearing(auditory), and doing (kinesthetic):
Visual learners learn best by seeing information displayed on a board, in a video, through activity sheets, pictures, etc. They need to visualize vocabulary in their head to commit concepts to memory, and probably take copious notes during class or meetings. Improve your study habits with these tips if you’re a visual learner:
- Draw pictures, charts and graphs to explain concepts.
- Use color to highlight important points when reading text or books.
- Study in a quiet place and avoid being disturbed.
Auditory learners do best with lectures, prefer discussions, and need to read aloud or talk about information that has been read. Here are some study tips for auditory learners:
- Use a tape recorder during lectures instead of taking notes.
- Read text aloud.
- Create musical jingles or mnemonic devices to memorize information.
Kinesthetic learners need to move and do. They like hands-on approaches to learning, and retain information best when they have an experience that anchors the information in their mind. Here are some ways to improve study habits if you’re a kinesthetic learner:
- Work in a standing position
- Chew gum while studying
- Use different-colored pens and highlighters to highlight important reading material.
- Dress up your study space with inspirational posters.
We learn through all three of these channels, but we each have a favorite. Can you guess which one is yours?
Zach Kinne, 2007-2008 National FFA president, knows that he is a visual learner. When he has to tackle learning a new issue for his job as a staffer for U.S. Senator Roy Blunt, he creates a visual web on paper by plotting key points in a bubble in the middle of the page and connecting rays off of that middle point to other bubbles with relevant information. This helps him focus his time and learn more efficiently while creating a mental image in his mind that he can revisit in his memory when he is in a meeting.
He also uses it to contribute effectively to teams. He volunteers for tasks that involve making visual presentations because, since he prefers visual learning, he knows how best to display information for other visual learners.
Thinking about how you learn best can empower you every day, giving you a step up as you move through life and face new challenges and opportunities, and even shed light on what career you might want to pursue.
QUIZ: So, which style is dominant for you? Visit FFAnewhorizons.org/learningstyles to take a quiz and find out!
– Anne Knapke