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Last Updated on January 6, 2020

The 7 Types of Learners: What Kind of Learner Am I?

The 7 Types of Learners: What Kind of Learner Am I?

We all know that one friend who doesn’t have to study, or even look at any of the material until the morning of the test. And then, almost miraculously, they ace it!

If you aren’t in school anymore, then there’s a good chance you have a colleague who spends half the time you do preparing for a meeting and yet seems to carry the conversation without a hitch, while you find yourself stammering. It’s a frustrating occurrence that can often cause jealousy and resentment toward people we would typically care about.

But it turns out that it may simply be a reflection of their awareness of which learning style suits them.

Everyone has a specific learning style that is most efficient for them. Maybe you refer to yourself as a visual learner – according to some studies, as many as 65% of people who make up the population do. These individuals use pictures and other imagery to learn and retain information.[1]

The friend from earlier, the one who can seemingly just show up to a test and know the answers? They’re probably an aural learner, and retained most all of what was audibly taught in the class. It isn’t that they don’t care about doing well in their studies, but rather that reading and studying visually would be borderline useless – they learned everything they needed to through listening.

7 Different Types of Learning Styles You Should Know

Perhaps you always aced those tests, too, but it didn’t feel as fulfilling since your friend didn’t study to attain the same grade, but you were up all night reading and re-reading your flash cards.

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Neither of you did anything wrong; it just so happens that you’re a visual learner and that’s how you attain the information. Or is it?

Many of us assume we are visual learners because it seems to make sense. And with such a high statistic boasting that title, it’s a fair assumption. Plus, think about the things we remember day-to-day. Most of it comes from what we read or saw through social media or experience. But how do we determine our style for sure?

While there isn’t solid research suggesting we can sleep on books to absorb the words, there are still up to seven types of learning styles that you can identify with to help you know how to turn studying and preparation into an easy task.

All of the styles can be mixed with each other, but picking and choosing can become pretty overwhelming. Looking at the list below, I would assume I’m a visual learner first and foremost, but I’d probably toss in some verbal and social styles, too.

  1. “Visual (spatial): You prefer using pictures, images, and spatial understanding.
  2. Aural (auditory, musical): You prefer using sound and music.
  3. Verbal (linguistic): You prefer using words, both in speech and writing.
  4. Physical (kinesthetic): You prefer using your body, hands.
  5. Logical (mathematical): You prefer using logic, reasoning, and systems.
  6. Social (interpersonal): You prefer to learn in groups or with other people.
  7. Solitary (Intrapersonal): You prefer to work alone and use self-study.”[2]

The Learning Style You Hold on to May Not Be the Best for You

I wanted to narrow my focus, so I took a test to help me determine what learning style(s) is best for me. This test is easy and helps takers understand how they learn best (based on the Memletics Learning Styles Questionnaire):[3]

As it turns out, my score was highest for verbal learning. I’m not surprised about it because when I can work things out by speaking out loud, or explaining it to someone else, it sticks with me.

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Using the Right Style Makes Your Learning More Efficient

Even if you are out of school, knowing how you learn can still help you lead an efficient life. Now that I’ve seen these scores, I can apply a verbal style to solve problems and retain information. I can also go forward knowing that no one in the world learns exactly as I do, and that’s something important to be aware of and respect. I can certainly apply this knowledge in my day-to-day life in my career.

Did your results surprise you? Why or why not?

Even if you assumed you were a verbal learner, and the quiz verified that, are you doing everything you can in your life to learn via that style? After all, just knowing a term doesn’t necessarily equip you to know what to do with it going forward. So let’s dig a little deeper.

Learning Approaches for Different Learners

Once you’ve identified the learning styles that pertain to you, it’s important to know how to learn using those methods:

Visual Learners

Visual Learners should use color, layouts, and spatial organization in their associations. Mind maps and diagrams are also especially helpful. Visual Learners should also highlight key terms and phrases as often as they see fit; the color will help them remember that information later.

Social Learners

Social Learners should aim to work with groups often. If in school, a study group would be ideal. If in a career, a social learner would want heavy focus on collaborative meetings and workshops. Another technique would be peer reviewing others’ works and ideas.

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With social learners, it’s all about interaction.

Physical Learners

Physical Learners are all about touch and movement. If you’ve ever interacted with an engineer, it probably didn’t take long to learn that they love taking things apart and putting them back together. This is a physical technique to help them learn how things work and why.

Flashcards also help physical learners, because although it’s technically a visual aid, touching and moving the cards is physical. When it comes to note taking, describing the physical feelings of your actions is ideal.

Aural Learners

Aural Learners use sound, rhyme, and music. Sound recordings and are great, as they help focus on using aural content for associations and visualization. Aural learners, depending on how often they practice the technique, can typically recall all information associated with a sound simply by thinking of the sound – they don’t have to hear it.

Verbal Learners

Verbal Learners should focus on techniques that rely on speaking and writing. Similar to Aural learning, Verbal Learners should make the most of word-based techniques like rhyme and rhythm. Mnemonics, especially acronym mnemonics that use first letters of the words are helpful for this style of learning, as well as scripting.

Verbal Learners not only read content aloud to remember it, but make it dramatic and varied to ensure it sticks with them.

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Solitary Learners

Solitary Learners need quiet time and the ability to study on their own. It’s important for Solitary Learners to grasp the end goal and why it should be important for them. Defining goals, objectives, and plans helps these learners define ultra-clear objectives.

Keeping a log or journal can help Solitary Learners outline ideas and connect personally to the topic at hand.

Logical Learners

Logical Learners aim to understand the reasoning behind things. Truly grasping the details behind content helps the material to be memorable. When studying, Logical Learners should use lists and statistics. Association can work well, too, as long as it’s illogical. Though this may seem counterintuitive, the illogicality of it helps the Logical Leaner call it to mind. Not surprisingly, these learners may sometimes overanalyze certain things that can lead to a mental block. If this happens, it’s important to refocus on what propels you closer to your goal.[4]

Bottom Line

Knowing more about Learning Styles and which apply to you, I challenge you to approach tasks in a way that is most efficient for your style. Suddenly you may seem like the one who doesn’t have to put so much effort into acing everything you attempt!

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Featured photo credit: Debbie Tea via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] Faculty Development: Successfully Using Visual Aids in Your Presentation
[2] learning-styles-online.com: The Seven Learning Styles
[3] Memletics: Learning Styles Questionnaire
[4] learning-styles-online.com: The Logical (Mathematical) Learning Style

More by this author

Heather Poole

Heather shares about everyday lifestyle tips on Lifehack.

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Published on January 14, 2020

15 Effortless Memorization Tricks To Remember Anything

15 Effortless Memorization Tricks To Remember Anything

The struggle is real!

With so much happening in life, it’s hard to remember the details. In particular, names, due dates, requirements and locations slip from the mind every so often. But the memorization tricks outlined in this article should ensure that you never forget stuff that matters.

I used to have a problem with remembering names and faces.

You see, I meet new people every day from around the globe and it’s just too many new names and faces for my mind to register.

But I’ll tell you this:

It’s certainly quite embarrassing to have coffee with somebody and not recognize them the next day.

The problem is that forgetting is such a passive action that you often have no control over it.

Let me explain:

When you forget something, it’s not like you’re actively trying to. It just… happens and that makes it hard to inhibit your forgetfulness.

I mean, how do you stop doing something that you’re not really doing?

So, I just accepted that this is how it is and I’m going to have to live with it.

But several embarrassing encounters later, I’ve consolidated a list of memorizing tips that worked like magic for me.

I’ve used them to overcome my problem of remembering people and their names which has helped me immensely in improving communication and collaboration within and outside of my company.

Now before we dive into the memorization tricks that I wanted to discuss with you, let’s first take a look at how and why we forget.

The Science of Forgetting

In 1885, Hermann Ebbinghaus put forth his theory that outlined the “Forgetting Curve”.[1] This curve shows how much information we retain after a certain amount of time has passed since initially memorizing it.

You might be a bit concerned about how valid this theory is, given that it was initially presented in the 19th century.

But in a 2015 analysis, scientists found that the Ebbinghaus’ Forgetting Curve was completely accurate.[2]

Fascinatingly, the Forgetting Curve shows that just after a day of memorizing something, we remember about 30% of it.

Before we jump into the memorization tricks in this article, I’d first like to explain to you why you forget in the first place. Knowing the root cause of forgetfulness will help you apply the information that you gather.

When you initially learn something, your mind transfers it into the hypothetical short-term memory chamber.

Your brain doesn’t know which piece of information is important and which needs to be discarded. So, it waits for a signal that helps it recognize important pieces of information that it can then shift into the hypothetical long-term memory chamber.

One of the more obvious of such signals is repetition. As shown in the forgetting figure below, repetition can change the shape of the forgetting curve.

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    All the memorization tricks and tips in this article revolve around signaling the importance of memories to your mind so it can move that piece of information from the short-term memory chamber to the long-term one.

    15 Memorization Tricks That Work

    Enough of science; let’s get into the business end of this article. Here are 15 memorization tricks that work:

    1. Say it 3 Times

    This is one of the simplest learning methods that I’ve been using and it seems to yield some great results.

    Make a habit of saying something 3 times as soon as you hear it. This will help you retain that information longer in your brain. In my case, when someone would tell me their name, I’d say it thrice under my breath. This signaled to my brain that this piece of information is important and I’d like to remember it.

    2. Link it to an Established Long-Term Memory

    What if you already have something in your long-term memory that you can link your new piece of information to?

    Imagine this:

    There’s a piece of information that resides deep in your hypothetical long-term memory chamber. Once you claim a new memory, you stick it to the old one.

    What do you think will happen?

    Of course, the new memory will retain better because of the strong memory that you linked it to.

    For instance, people set their 4-digit pin codes for their birthdates (or their spouse’s) all the time. It’s easier to remember because they have an already established link in their mind that’s probably never going to break.

    3. Type Away

    Writing something down is a common memorizing trick that works for many.

    The problem?

    You almost never have a pen and paper close at hand when you need it.

    So here, I decided to go a bit unconventional and use technology to my advantage.

    I started typing notes on my phone that I’d revisit before sleeping.

    A lot of times, I wouldn’t even have to revisit my notes because the mere act of typing them would help me retain that memory.

    But if typing it out doesn’t help, rereading it at night surely will.

    4. Spaced Repetition

    As mentioned above, further research on the Ebbinghaus Forgetting Curve showed that it’s best to revise a piece of information after a certain amount of time as it helps your mind retain it better.

    Now, what a lot of people do is that they try to repeat or revise a memory as soon as they attain it.

    But research shows that it’s useless to adopt that strategy. The goal isn’t to avoid forgetting that memory; it’s to forget it so you can relearn and solidify its roots in your brain.

    The same research suggested 4 repetitions; around 20 mins, 50 mins, 9 hours and 5 days after memorizing something.[3]

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    But it might not be practical to revisit a memory in that fashion. So, as we recommend in our article on Spaced Repetition, just revise an important memory 24-36 hours after initially learning it and you should see 90% above retention rates.

    5. Grasp the Concept

    Back in college, rote learning never seemed to work for me.

    No matter how many times I’d repeat a phrase and try to learn it by heart, I’d have completely forgotten it by the next day.

    So I tried to memorize the concept, not the words.

    This worked great for me back then and still works well when I’m trying to understand the mechanics of a company or a business.

    6. Interleaved Practice

    If you mix it up, you’ll see better results in memorization.

    Most people, when they’re trying to memorize or learn something, keep working at it until it’s all done or perfect.

    It doesn’t make much sense if you leave a memorization task in the middle right? Wrong!

    Research shows that if you learn two different things at once, you’ll learn them better. This is called interleaved practice.

    Now that are 2 reasons why interleaved practice shows spectacular resuLts:

    Similar memories get mixed up in the brain

    Interleaved practice makes it harder to recall a memory. And the harder the practice session, the better your results!

    7. Use Storytelling

    Without a doubt, storytelling is one of the most powerful skills that one can master.

    And the reason is simple:

    Stories captivate us like nothing else.

    Look at all the forms of entertainment that we have nowadays and you’ll see storytelling in each one of them; movies, songs, music videos, video games, vlogs… the list goes on.

    The reason is simple:

    Our brain is obsessed with stories.

    So the next time you’re trying to memorize something, try creating a story in your head that would help you remember it.

    8. Record Your Audio

    Here’s another fantastic memorizing trick that puts technology to great use.

    When you’re trying to memorize something, just audio record yourself on the phone and listen to it on repeat.

    You don’t need to do this for long. In fact, about 15-20 minutes of listening to yourself should be more than enough.

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    This is especially useful for auditory learners.

    9. Create Parts

    What if I tell you to memorize this number in 20 seconds:

    583957304

    I’m sure that sounds like a daunting task.

    But what about:

    583-957-304

    This looks easier although both numbers are essentially the same.

    The only difference in both numbers is that the second one has two dashes. Now, the dashes themselves aren’t significant. What’s significant is the fact that the dashes break the number into 3 parts.

    When you break the number, it becomes easier to remember. Your brain can then focus on individual parts and consolidate them in the end.

    In fact, this memorization technique is pretty much a setup to trick your mind into thinking the task is easier than it actually is.

    So, the next time you’re learning something extensive, create parts out of it and focus on each part individually.

    10. Focus on Keywords

    I like to use this method in conjunction with “Grasping the Concept”.

    You see, there are just some things that require word-for-word learning.

    And if you’re not good at it, then learning keywords becomes your last option.

    It’s likely that you’ve used this technique if you buy the groceries. All you do is memorize keywords like “6 eggs” but never “buy half a dozen eggs” because the rest of all the words contribute nothing (or very little) to the message.

    11. Say it out Aloud

    Here’s another learning trick for auditory learners:

    Say your words out aloud.

    I’m a firm believer that the more senses you stimulate while learning, the better you’ll learn.

    This means that reading alone (using your visual sense only) is not nearly as effective as speaking your words while you read them because it stimulates your sense of hearing as well.

    Ideally, you’d want to use this technique with writing or typing.

    12. Retain While You Sleep

    Did you know that sleeping could help improve your memory?

    Well, researchers from Matthew P. Walker and Robert Stickgold sure think so. In their research, “Sleep, Memory and Plasticity”, they maintain that sleep has a major role in “memory consolidation” and “memory reconsolidation”.[4].

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    Another research published in Current Opinion in Neurology shows that,[5]

    “Sleep is important for optimal learning.”

    By that logic, memorizing just before you go to sleep is a nice way of strengthening that memory. While you sleep, your brain should work on that memory’s consolidation and reconsolidation.

    Also, it’s important to get a good amount of sleep in for improving memory in general.

    13. Challenge Yourself

    Most people think that memorizing is all about reading and speaking.

    And that’s partly why they aren’t particularly good at it.

    Most of the time, we’re trying to memorize something all day but when the right time comes, our memory fails to support us.

    A good way to eliminate that problem is to test yourself in the middle of the day.

    Challenge yourself in the middle of the day to recall what you’re trying to learn. It doesn’t necessarily need to be in a learning environment. In fact, you could try recalling while you’re in the elevator, having lunch or walking to your office.

    14. Mnemonics

    Mnemonics have been for ages to learn a list of words in order.

    And the only reason why they’ve stood the test of time is that they work.

    In this method, you list out the first letter of each word and then try creating a sentence/phrase out of them that can be memorized.

    A common example is the “Roy G. Biv” mnemonic that’s used to memorize the colors of the rainbow (Red, Orange, Yellow, Green, Blue, Indigo and Violet).

    Although recent research on effective learning techniques ranked mnemonics as a low utility learning method, the only reason for that was that mnemonics don’t have a wide variety of applications in general learning.[6]

    However, they work like magic if you’re trying to learn a foreign language or increase vocabulary.

    15. Use a To-Do List App

    The last memorizing trick on our list is to use a To-Do List app.

    A lot of these apps come with the added functionality of displaying your notes on the home screen of your phone.

    A lot of others come with a sticky notification of that note that appears 24/7 on your phone.

    By typing what you want to memorize in that note, you can then read it again every time you use your phone.

    And if you’re anything like the common man, this memorization trick should give you the opportunity to review your memory multiple times in the day.

    If you tend to forget easily, start trying these memorizing tricks. They’ve changed my life and will change yours too!

    More to Boost Your Memory

    Featured photo credit: Sincerely Media via unsplash.com

    Reference

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