Printer-friendly version

Learning Styles 101

Before you can understand how someone else best processes, understands and produces information, you need to know how you, yourself, learn.

Following is a primer on learning styles. Try it yourself, and then offer it to your students.

I. The Basics:

Perception is how you observe and make sense of stimuli, the world around you. Your perceptions shape what you think, how you make decisions, how you define what is important. It also determines your natural learning strengths, also known as your learning style.

A. There are 2 basic types of perceptual qualities:

  • Concrete, which allows you to register information directly through your senses, dealing with the obvious, with facts, dates, etc.
  • Abstract, which allows you to visualize, conceive ideas, understand what you cannot see, use your imagination and intuition, etc.

B. There are 3 basic senses used in formal learning, especially at the college level:

  • Auditory, listening for information and/or instructions.
  • Visual, seeing, reading and visualizing.
  • Kinesthetic, moving, touching, writing, doing.

C. There are 2 basic types of reasoning:

  • Deductive, in which you look at/ think about the ?big picture? first.
  • Inductive, in which you look at/ think about the details and examples first.

D. There are 2 basic ways to organize/order information:

  • Sequential, in which you organize information in a linear, step-by-step manner, using a logical train of thought.
  • Random, in which you organize information in chunks, usually in no particular order.

E. There are 2 basic types of learning environments:

  • Intrapersonal, in which you work individually, or alone, to understand the material.
  • Interpersonal, in which you work with others to understand the material.

Knowing your learning style is the first step in recognizing what skills you need to develop to be successful. The second step is?

II. Teaching Styles:

  • Each of your teachers has a preferred learning style determined, just as yours is, by the basics listed above.
  • Each of your teachers also has a preferred teaching style, determined by the combination of his/her own learning style and the innate organization of the discipline, the course content and the course objectives.
  • The teaching style is evidenced in his/her syllabus, test format, and class assignments/projects.

III. The tasks involved in putting it all together to be successful...

A. During the first few weeks of each new class pay particular attention to:

  • the type of information your teacher is presenting in class,
  • the modality and the format in which the information is presented,
  • the type of questions s/he is asking of you in class,
  • how s/he reasons.

B. Once you can identify these factors you can:

  • determine what type of notes are required to gather appropriate and adequate information
  • determine what type of exams may be given, as well as what level and type of answers are expected
  • decide how to best prepare for exams, etc.
  • demonstrate your understanding in the format which the professor chooses.

IV. The Rewards:

A. You will become:

  • better at gathering information via the auditory, visual and kinesthetic modalities,
  • able to perceive on both the concrete and abstract level
  • able to reason both inductively and deductively
  • able to organize information both sequentially and randomly
  • able to work well in both intrapersonal and interpersonal environments
  • better at demonstrating your understanding of material in the format required by the teacher (AKA: better grades)

V. The Resources:

To learn how to develop note taking, reading and/or exam preparation skills specific to your learning styles and the teaching styles of your instructors, call Student Support Services at 267-2345.

To learn more about learning styles, visit these Web Sites:
Lists a few other sites with basic but useful information on learning styles, multiple intelligences, and other topics related to individualized learning.

This section of the Faculty Development site at Honolulu Community College features links to articles and resources on learning styles and includes some on-line assessments.
This site provides access to learning style assessments as well as how your learning styles can determine which mnemonics are best for you.