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Last Updated on January 27, 2021

7 Characteristics of an Aural Learner and How They Learn Best

7 Characteristics of an Aural Learner and How They Learn Best

When it comes to my learning preference, I’m certainly not an auditory or aural learner. No matter how many times someone tells me how to spell a word, I can’t seem to process it. They might as well be the teacher on Charlie Brown, sputtering nonsensical sounds.

An aural learner is a person who prefers to hear things to be able to process information better. You may have a friend who remembers your phone number when you’ve only repeated it once, or maybe you have a coworker who always remembers tidbits from past conversations. These people are very likely aural learners.

It’s important to keep in mind that learning styles are, in reality, only a preference. While someone may prefer to learn by listening, they can certainly learn other ways, as well. Here, we’ll go over the aural learner preference and its characteristics.

The Truth About Learning Styles

It’s important to keep in mind that learning styles are nothing but preferences.

The idea that some people are visual, aural, kinesthetic, or read/write learners began in the 1990s in New Zealand when Neil Fleming developed a questionnaire to measure how people preferred to process information[1]. Known as VARK, this questionnaire is still used up to this day to categorize people’s learning style preferences.[2]

VARK® Learning Styles - With A Twist Education Ltd

    Though Fleming’s learning style gained popularity, Polly Hussman and Valerie Dean O’Loughlin found no link between people’s preferred learning style and actual learning outcomes.[3] These findings were confirmed in subsequent studies, as well.

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    Preferred learning styles had no impact on how well participants could recall information.[4] It may be true that people like to gain information in various ways, but it’s not true that using a chosen learning style improves learning outcomes.

    Nevertheless, it’s still clear that people (myself included) have preferred ways to receive new information. Therefore, it’s still a worthwhile pursuit to unpack what the characteristics of an aural learner are and how someone who prefers the auditory learning style can take advantage of that preference.

    7 Characteristics of an Aural Learner

    Let’s look at the 7 characteristics of an aural learner:

    1. Prefer to Hear Information

    This might seem obvious, but aural learners prefer to hear things aloud. If you find yourself asking for auditory information, you just might be one.

    Auditory learners retain more information when it is heard, so verbally reinforcing information is a strong point for them when it comes to learning experiences. Exercises with read alouds and even working with study buddies can offer important auditory feedback for these learners.

    If this sounds like you, download audiobooks and listen to podcasts. Try these 16 Best Podcasts on Motivation to Help You Reach Your Goals. You might also enjoy attending lectures and reading things out loud to better understand the content.

    2. Gravitate Towards Audiobooks

    Aural learners might also gravitate towards audiobooks, which are sources of auditory information at their finest. There are no words to read or pictures to look at, after all. If you enjoy audiobooks and podcasts and find it easy to remember bits of information after listening, you could be an aural learner.

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    3. Close Their Eyes to Focus on Auditory Information

    When someone closes their eyes to better understand something, they might be an aural learner. They do it mostly to block out other learning methods and focus on auditory inputs.

    If you think that’s you, you can try closing your eyes to get rid of visual stimuli and see how it affects your learning.

    4. Talk and Move Lips to Process Information

    You might also be able to spot an aural learner when they talk to themselves or are mouthing the words as they read since aural learners prefer hearing new information. They may repeat things to themselves during class discussions or mouth important points during meetings.

    If you think you’re an aural learner, crack a book and read along. That way, you’ll turn reading and studying into an auditory experience.

    5. Easily Remember People’s Names

    Unlike me, aural learners tend to be good at learning people’s names. We usually hear instead of see them, so aural learners are at an advantage when it comes to learning new names.

    You may boost your name-learning skills by repeating people’s names five times to make sure that you remember them well.

    6. Do Not Like Noisy Learning Environments

    It might seem counterintuitive, but being an aural learner doesn’t mean that they like a noisy environment. If someone prefers to hear information, they don’t appreciate listening to competing noises.

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    It’s the same for a visual learner. Just because I appreciate a chart or graph, it’s false to think that I like to be bombarded by visuals.

    If people prefer aural learning, they might be attracted to clear, audible sounds and struggle with auditory distractions.

    Aim to reduce distractions in your environment, regardless of your preferred learning style. Find a quiet place to study without the sound of traffic, phones, and televisions disturbing you.

    7. Might Ignore Visual Representations of Information

    Lastly, an aural learner might not even notice or pay attention to visual information. If charts and graphs don’t make things clearer for you, it is highly possible that audible information serves you better.

    Go ahead and listen to as much information as you can. Still, don’t completely ignore the visuals. After that, go back and use the other learning styles to reinforce what you’re learning. Know your blind spot and make sure to access all methods since people do learn better and retain more data when they use multiple learning styles, regardless of their preference.

    How Does an Aural Learner Learn?

    Because learning styles are only a matter of choice and not actually a way to improve learning outcomes, aural learners learn like everyone else. Once you realize that, it’s okay to start with that preference, whether it’s aural, visual, kinesthetic, or read/write. I know I still always ask people to write things down for me, and I prefer reading over anything else. It’s not a problem — it feels more natural for me to do so.

    If you’re an aural learner, you may try listening to audiobooks and podcasts first. You can even turn on an audiobook while reading the same book, considering that combining learning styles helps people retain new information.

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    People should try to match the learning task with the learning style, as context matters. If you need to analyze graphs for an upcoming exam, auditory information is probably not the best way to go. If you prefer visuals to learn your lines in a play, though, aural inputs might actually be more helpful for you. And if you favor a read/write learning style but are practicing a new TikTok dance, you can read all the books in the world and still not be able to learn the moves.

    Hence, always think of what you’re learning about before you decide on your learning method.

    Furthermore, it’s important to limit distractions, regardless of your preferred learning style. Whether you’re an aural, visual, kinesthetic, or read/write learner, you need to turn off your gadgets and study in a quiet environment. I’d even suggest getting noise-canceling headphones to block external noises. The more conducive to learning your environment is, the better your chances of learning will be.

    Final Thoughts

    Self-reflection is an essential part of the learning process. After trying out a learning style, reflect on what worked and what didn’t. What are the results? Did the learning style fit what you’re trying to learn?

    It’s a lifelong process to figure out how your brain processes new information best, so make sure to reflect on yourself. Try new learning styles or combinations of styles to see what works in different scenarios.

    Self-reflection builds self-awareness, which is crucial for improving learning outcomes over time. Unfortunately, there’s no magic bullet for that.

    However, if you prefer aural learning, start with auditory information, mix things up with other learning styles, consider which ones are suitable for what you’re trying to learn, reduce distractions, and become as reflective about your learning as possible. This way, you’ll be starting with your preferences and creating a learning system that will continue to improve over time.

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    Featured photo credit: Mimi Thian via unsplash.com

    Reference

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    Clay Drinko

    Clay Drinko is an educator and the author of PLAY YOUR WAY SANE (January 2021 Simon & Schuster)

    6 Scientific Ways to Improve Your Cognitive Thinking 4 Steps of Cognitive Restructuring to Help You Think Clearly How To Improve Your Visual-Spatial Skills aural-learner 7 Characteristics of an Aural Learner and How They Learn Best 7 Important Characteristics of a Smart Auditory Learner

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    Last Updated on February 11, 2021

    7 Reasons You Won’t Start Studying Until It’s Too Late, And What To Do About It

    7 Reasons You Won’t Start Studying Until It’s Too Late, And What To Do About It

    For most of us, the experience of studying for an exam can be captured in one word: panic. You’ve got 18 hours, exhausted, and sitting there staring at an equations sheet full of gibberish. Why? Why didn’t I start earlier?

    Believe it or not, there are forces acting against you, pulling you away from starting early enough so that you can comfortably learn new material. Here are 7 of the most insidious reasons why you don’t start early, and what you can do about it.

    1. You’re anticipating hard work

    Procrastination is generally viewed as this guilt-ridden character defect shared almost universally by all students. The problem is, this is exactly what we should expect to happen from an evolutionary perspective.

    Humans are known to be cognitive misers:[1] we conserve mental resources whenever possible, especially when facing tasks not viewed as “essential to our survival.”

    In other words, we put off studying until the last minute because (1) we know the work is hard and will require a lot of mental energy, and (2) until there’s the threat of actually failing the exam (and therefore potentially being humiliated publicly) we’re not in enough emotional pain to motivate us to start studying.

    Additionally, when your brain anticipates multiple outcomes that are all viewed as “painful” (the pain of studying vs. the pain of failing out of college) you become immobilized, unable to choose the lesser of two evils, and push off the work even further.

    Schedule in time for yourself first and then fill in the gaps with study time.

    As Niel Fiore discusses in bestselling classic, The Now Habit, part of the reason you procrastinate is because you see no end in site.

    Think of the difference between a 100 yard dash and a marathon. In the first case you’re able to give maximum effort because you can see the finish line and know it will be over soon. The marathon runner is not so lucky. They know there’s a long road ahead filled with pain and exhaustion, and subconsciously conserve their effort to ensure they can make it through all 26.2 miles.

    This is all to say, if you know you get to go hang out in your buddy’s dorm room and goof off for an hour after you study, you’re much more likely to want to invest that energy.

    As a side benefit, you end up taking advantage of Parkinson’s Law. Because your work expands to fill the time allotted, by scheduling less time for studying, you actually become more productive and focused.

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    2. You’re sleep deprived

    Who in college isn’t pounding the caffeine?

    Students who force themselves through weeks upon weeks of 4-6 hour sleep nights, are significantly deteriorating two aspects of their mental performance critical to studying for exams: motivation and vigilance.

    Studies show that poor sleep negatively impacts motivation.[2] But really, no one needs a study to tell them how much worse your outlook on life is when you’re low on sleep.

    And vigilance,[3]the ability to maintain concentrated attention over prolonged periods of time, is also significantly reduced during a period of either acute (staying up all night studying), or chronic (cutting sleep short for multiple days) sleep deprivation.[4]

    Set yourself an end-of-the-day alarm.

    Yes, studying more consistently for shorter chunks will allow you to spread it over a longer period of time; therefore, preventing the need to deprive yourself of sleep just to get your coursework done. But really, it’s a psychological issue.

    There are a million things we’d rather stay up and do, than go right to bed after a full day of classes, only to have to get up and do the same thing over again. This is a chicken/egg problem: if I don’t get sleep I procrastinate studying, but if I go to bed I’ll just have to get up and study. Again, lose-lose. We need to break the cycle.

    Set yourself an alarm. But not in the morning. Set your alarm for 45 minutes before when you should get to sleep and allow yourself to sleep for a full 8 hours. If you adhere to that you’ll be surprised how many hours of free time seem to materialize.

    Study time + free time + sleep = happy and successful students.

    3. You have a false sense of security

    You may think you’re being a diligent student, sitting there in the lecture, listening intently, copying down page after page of notes from the professor. You might even be following along and raise your hand here and there. But there’s a big difference between feeling like you understand something, and actually being able to reproduce it on a test.

    This is what we call passive learning, and it’s the best way to ensure that you’ll spend a lot of time and effort trying to learn new material, without actually being able to retain any of it.

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    Quiz yourself.

    Don’t be fooled by your professor’s overly logical explanations. This dude already knows the material, so it’s easy for him to explain it in a way that others find understandable. The real challenge is whether or not you can do the same.

    If you’re wondering if you actually understand something, quiz yourself. Or better yet, explain it to someone (or yourself, but be warned: people tend to stare).

    As Einstein liked to say, “If you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand it well enough.”

    By routinely quizzing yourself, you’ll get a dose of reality of whether you actually know the material or not, instead of what most students do: assume they know it until the night before the test, when they proceed to freak out because they can’t do any of the practice problems.

    4. Not all study time is created equal

    Fact: seven hours of studying over 7 days is much more effective (more learning per time spent) for understanding new material than 7 hours of studying in one chunk. This is especially true for technical courses with new jargon you have to internalize.

    Chunk your study time.

    The brain uses a ton of energy (20% of our resting metabolic rate), and there’s only so much you can expend per day. To maximize your retention of new material, you want to take advantage of both active learning and recovery.

    Because the brain consolidates new neural pathways during sleep, particularly during REM sleep, the more sleep cycles you intersperse between your study hours, the more likely it is that you will retain the material and be able to whip it out on test day.

    This also allows you to take advantage of spaced repetition. Instead of having to constantly review your material to keep it in the forefront of your memory, you can follow a cycle of ever-increasing time intervals between review sessions (the “forgetting curve”), decreasing the overall amount of time needed to re-learn material you might have forgotten from the beginning of the semester when the final rolls around.

    5. The planning fallacy

    Humans systematically overestimate what can be accomplished in the short-term, and underestimate what can be accomplished in the long-term.

    Ironically (and sadly), we only have this problem evaluating our own tasks – providing a pretty accurate picture of how long things will take when evaluating someone else’s situation objectively.

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    Use the 50% rule.

    Estimate as conservatively as you can, how much time it’s going to take to study for your exam, assuming you start early and work consistently.

    Done?

    Okay. Now add 50% to that estimate.

    This will give you a more accurate picture of how much time you really need to allocate to starting studying.

    6. You think you have more study time than you do

    141025-study-definition

      Pull up your Sunday schedule. What do you see?

      Oh looks like I’ve got a big chunk of free time from 4pm to 10pm. Perfect, I’ll just squeeze in 5 or 6 hours of studying and then call it a night.

      Try again. It’s more like 2-3 hours.

      This is another type of planning mistake: overestimating how much productive time we can extract from any given period.

      Things we tend to forget: we need to eat; we need to sleep; there will be interruptions (yea right like you’re actually going to shut off your phone).

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      But another thing we fail to account for: the body goes through 90-120 minute activity cycles (called the Ultradian Rhythm). So even though you may be sitting there, highlighting your textbook for 3 hours straight, you really only have the ability to absorb material for 1.5 to 2 hours before you need a period of rest.

      Cut your estimated hours in half.

      If you think you have 8 hours on Sunday after the game to study, forget it. You actually have 4 or less when you take out time for eating, breaks, and normal daily activities.

      7. You can’t get motivated or focused

      A lot of us tend to sit around and wait…

      Waiting for the wave of motivation to strike us to finally get started on the homework assignment due in 24 hours, or studying for the midterm.

      Here’s the problem: motivation comes and goes, but the demands of school and learning and everyday life don’t. And if you’re relying on your motivation to keep you focused, everything you’re doing is going to be in a perpetual state of lateness and last-minute-ness, because there’s never enough motivation to go around.

      Focus on the process, with the end in mind.

      Why are you in school? Why do you want a degree? Get clear on exactly what your motivations are.

      But thinking about the future is not enough. That vision of the future that drives your emotional intensity needs to be linked to your daily activities. (e.g. “Each day I study for Calculus brings me one step closer to being a doctor and making a difference in people’s lives.”)

      What is the one set of activities each day that will virtually guarantee success in your coursework?

      And what can you do to organize your day, set up incentives, quit things that don’t matter, etc. to virtually guarantee you will do that one set of activities day in and day out, despite motivation?

      Featured photo credit: Melanie Deziel via unsplash.com

      Reference

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