We all learn in assorted ways and various skills may require different approaches. When we take on a new task, it is important to assess which approach would be most appropriate to achieving the best outcome. If you are studying plays, for example,you might find you absorb the material better through the oral/aural method and reading the plays out loud within a group is most beneficial to your understanding. If you are working through a scientific hypothesis or a difficult equation, then it is possible that a more visual method is needed and writing it out would help. If you are trying to work out how to build an engine, then a hands-on kinaesthetic approach might be for you.
However best you learn, it is still interesting and beneficial to change it up sometimes. Trying out new ways of learning can give you access to new perspectives and a renewed energy and enthusiasm for your topic.
In this section, we will be looking at how to become an active learner and how to learn in new ways. An active learner is one who engages in a meaningful way with the material and takes a proactive approach to learning.
To make your learning meaningful, you need to be able to make connections, test out theories, and come to conclusions. You should be able to draw on relevant information as well as your own opinion to create a beautiful tapestry of research; much like a tapestry,you need to draw in several threads and weave them in the right way to be able to create a picture the viewer/reader can understand. This makes your research relevant and meaningful as opposed to simply a collection of information.
An active learner will use several methods to learn including, but not limited to, live sessions such as seminars and lectures, book and online research, peer and professional discussions. Each learner will have their own way of recording and re-ordering this information ready to utilise it in essays and assignments. Because each learner is different, we will have to make some generalisations within this section about learning styles and methods. Hopefully, you will recognise yourself in one or more of these descriptions.
These learners learn best when they are given visual aids. This might be through drawings, videos, or demonstrations. If you are a visual learner, then invest in colourful pens, blue tac, and large paper as you may find creating posters of information and sticking them to your wall will help you revise information. Ask your lecturer for any useful topic-related videos that you might be able to find online as these will also help your learning.
These learners learn through talking and listening so peer and professional discussions and engaging seminars will be best for processing and retaining information. If you are an oral/aural learner, then recording lectures (with permission) and listening back to them will be useful for your revision. Talking helps you so try teaching someone about your topic and you will find that you retain the information much better.
These learners learn best through the process of reading and writing down information. If you are this sort of learner, then you will enjoy the process of taking copious notes. Do make sure to reduce these down to flashcards throughout your revision process as, through the process of writing notes, you will find you retain information and no longer need to access it in its entirety, so a short flashcard will be a sufficient reminder.
These learners learn through action; they prefer to try something out rather than read about it. If you are a kinaesthetic learner, then try to be as hands-on as possible. You may find that you are already on a more practical course but if you are in a heavily theory-based course then try moving around whilst you recite poetry, for example, so you can feel where the pauses occur.
A new way of learning can be a challenge, but it is a challenge that comes with huge benefits. Leap in with both feet, knowing that you will land somewhere new and exciting.