The four learning types

To tick differently: Which are the best learning strategies for each of the four learning types?

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This article was written in the course of a guest contribution for blogs.harvard.edu. We summarised the most important points for you to find out which learning type you are and how you can master your degree successfully.

As every student knows too well: Towards the end of a term, many exam dates and submission deadlines for essays and written assignments fall into a short period of time, some even clash. Often, important texts have to be read over and over again because the head does not want to play along. What’s more is that during exam times many students make use of so-called bulimia learning: The short-term memory is fed huge amounts of data just before an exam, only to forget everything again shortly after – to make space for the next test. If students think it was possible to save a huge amount of information in the long-term memory to make use of it in their later job, they’re wrong! Quite on the contrary, it’s not uncommon for students to finish a semester or even their degree with a feeling of “having learnt nothing.”

However, this does not have to be the case. There are different learning strategies which can help you to learn effectively and remember complex information after just a short time. Just as human brains differ, so does people’s ability to remember. For this reason, theory distinguishes between four learning types, which can each make use of individual strategies for time-efficient, sustainable learning.

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The 4 learning types

The 4 learning types

For these learning types, usually one of the senses plays a central role: hearing, seeing or feeling. The auditory type can learn better through hearing, the visual type can process facts particularly well that can be seen, and the kinaesthetic type needs something tangible to work with to learn effectively. The communicative type needs the interaction with others to process information quickly.

Hence, everyone is different: While some students can skip lectures completely and spend all day at the library, others learn best by attending lectures and seminar, while yet others prefer learning groups. Have a look around at your university: You’ll find every learning type!

The more accurate you can determine which learning type you belong to, the more the following information will help you to improve your studies with sustainable, effective learning and minimise stress and frustration.

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ACAD WRITE Element 27

auditory

What characterises the auditory learning type?

Kinaesthetic learners are practically-oriented. The kinaesthetic type likes to take things into their own hands and experiment: learn by doing. You are very good at active learning – excursions and exhibitions are your thing, and you love copying complex processes to internalise them. Useful tips:



  • Use models and practical illustrations as often as you can.
  • You understand concise, short texts easier, so try to avoid long, monotonous ones.
  • Remain active during the learning process: for example, by going to the gym or jogging. When you have to sit for long period of times, get up regularly and move around the room.

ACAD WRITE Element 8

kinaesthetic

What characterises the kinaesthetic learning type?

Nothing escapes visual learners who can especially remember texts as well as pictures. If you belong to the visual type, you love books but also graphics and statistics. You are a bookworm and soak texts up like a sponge. Maybe you even have a photographic memory. You like to make notes. Useful tips:



  • Create mind maps or graphics to visualise information.
  • Use flashcards to learn vocabulary of a foreign language.
  • Watch learning films or useful videos.

ACAD WRITE Element 10

visual

What characterises the visual learning type?

Communicative learners learn best in dialogues or in groups. As the communicative type, you process information best if you can discuss it with others. Social interaction enables you to grasp complex topics, without getting bored. Useful tips:



  • Use existing learning groups, where possible, or form your own group with fellow students you get along with well.
  • Stay in exchange to process complex issues: Participate in seminars and discussions and don’t shy away from questions.
  • Exchange thoughts with roommates, family or friends during longer learning phases to create a dialogue and liven up the learning process.

ACAD WRITE Element 28

communicative

What characterises the communicative learning type?

Communicative learners learn best in dialogues or in groups. As the communicative type, you process information best if you can discuss it with others. Social interaction enables you to grasp complex topics, without getting bored. Useful tips:



  • Use existing learning groups, where possible, or form your own group with fellow students you get along with well.
  • Stay in exchange to process complex issues: Participate in seminars and discussions and don’t shy away from questions.
  • Exchange thoughts with roommates, family or friends during longer learning phases to create a dialogue and liven up the learning process.

The learning types: neither one thing nor the other?

As has been shown, every learning type can use different channels to process information best. But does this mean that they are mutually exclusive? Not at all! Although most people have a preferred learning method, they in reality are a mixture of more than just one learning type – and that’s a good thing. It has been proven that different learning strategies and the combination of various learning channels have a positive effect on learning success. Nothing is worse than boredom born from monotone learning forms – so variety is a must. Combine your preferred learning methods to increase your recall rate – and with it your learning success.

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So, which learning type are you?

Although you are the best judge, we can give you a helping hand in finding out which learning type you are.

Here you can find additional information about the learning types:
prezi.com/the-four-different-types-of-learners-and-what-they-mean-to-your-presentations-infographic

And here you can do a test to help you determine your learning type:
educationplanner.org/students/self-assessments/learning-styles-quiz.shtml

Best start straight away to find out which learning methods appeal to you most – and combine your approaches to avoid monotony and improve your learning success sustainably!

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