Hello, my name is Euro, and I am a second-year CMMB major and a BSA Academic Coordinator. As in-person lectures commence and our lives shift back into place, the campus bustles with both eager and tense students. We all know that one friend with an elaborate study ritual they swear by or that one friend who enjoys risk-taking and overnight cramming sessions. This guide will help you identify what type of learner you fit under so that you can apply specific study strategies customized for yourself. A key concept this guide will focus on is that quantity does not always beat quality; we only have 24 hours in a day and a lot of work to get done!
Identifying Visual Learners
Visual learners need to take a moment to observe to conceptualize new lecture material. These learners are engaged by pictures and diagrams but easily distracted by noise, especially when they are trying to brainstorm or visualize. They are organized and likely to spend a considerable amount of time note-taking or annotating.
Connect the Dots!
Just like in the parable of blind men and an elephant, mass memorization of bits and pieces does not provide a complete understanding for visual learners. Using a mind map is particularly helpful in not only categorizing various themes but interconnecting each learning objective. This also creates a great study routine because sections can be clearly visualized to pinpoint concepts that need revisiting. Also, many science courses tend to build on each other; when it is time to apply these concepts on a test, the mind map will become a master study guide!
After establishing a general flow of the course content, incorporating flashcards to perfect the details can be useful. Anki or Quizlet are programs that you can use to minimize the time spent on creating them. Although it is an investment to make these flashcards, it is worthwhile to establish a consistent study routine. You’ll be glad you pre-made these come finals season!
Identifying Auditory Learners
Auditory learners need to take a moment to listen to digest study material. These learners are engaged by presentations and videos but might struggle to study independently for prolonged periods of time. They enjoy discussions or study groups and prefer this over reading or writing.
Become the Professor!
Auditory learners benefit from group study sessions where they can teach the material to peers or back to themselves. For each lecture slide or learning objective, brainstorming ideas and recalling the details help solidify the concepts as well as identify areas of weakness. Finding different auditory sources for similar concepts is also crucial; this means not only referencing the course instructors and study group peers but TAs, Youtube clips and many more. This not only provides repetition to solidify newly learned concepts but engagement through different styles of speech and approaches.
Identifying Kinesthetic Learners
Kinesthetic learners prioritize the hands-on experience to grasp new material. These learners are engaged by experiments and field studies but struggle with theory or concept-heavy courses. They value the learning process and are unafraid to undergo trial and error.
Divide & Conquer!
Kinesthetic learners benefit from breaking tasks down to manageable bits before sitting down to tackle them. Instead of reading the textbook or viewing a lecture video absent-mindedly, it can help to hand-write notes to focus more on each individual concept. The Pomodoro Technique is particularly useful where study sessions are dictated by 25 minutes of studying and 5 minutes of resting. Simply rinse and repeat to maximize productivity; a good balance is reached between studying and taking some time to stretch out the sore limbs!
Also, these learners benefit from visualizing real-life concepts or trying out application questions. Taking theory into practice, such as in a lab, ties off loose ends that these learners did not quite grasp during study sessions.
Whether it be those who need the peace and quiet of TFDL’s 6th floor or those who enjoy the couches in Science A, we all strive for the same goal – to study efficiently! Gaining a better understanding of what works best for ourselves definitely helps us reach this goal faster. I hope this guide provided a starting point to efficient studying; there are of course numerous other strategies that can improve the learning journey as well!