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Learning Styles

Author: Pencil Case  Date: 10 April 2018

Modes of Learning = Visual, auditory and physical

As humans we tend to develop a system of learning that favours stimulation via the eyes (visual), the ears (auditory) or through actions (physical/kinaesthetic). Every one of us uses a different mode or modes of learning. Most of us use more than one type and one tends to dominate over the others. For example I am a visual/auditory learner, this means that I love to watch and read information but I still learn quite well by listening to people speak in lectures or on recordings or on the radio etc. However, if I do something without first seeing someone else do it I often get it wrong. Using the wrong mode of learning (for me physical) is the equivalent of trying to hammer in a nail with a screwdriver. Basically learning becomes a difficult exercise that is as frustrating as in the hammer analogy. If we are going to succeed at study we need to find the type of learning most suited to us and this should determine how we spend the majority of our time studying.

I studied accounting and management at university. I am not very proud to say that I did very poorly in my first year. Partly because of a lack of motivation and partly because I didn’t have many of the skills on these pages. My second semester of first year was appalling as I received 2 fails and one pass. I decided to start my second year determined to get it right. Notice I said “decided” because doing well at your studies is a choice for most students and not an ability that only some people have. I chose to do better and in first semester of second year I received a high distinction and 2 distinctions. The thing that did it for me and made all the difference was that I changed my mode of learning.

When I started uni I did what everyone else did - I used physical learning i.e. I sat in lectures and scribbled down everything the lecturer said just like everyone else. I soon discovered that this was not working because everything the lecturer said was going in my ears and down my arm onto the page and nothing was being absorbed in my brain. The decision I made was to stop taking word for word notes (I still took some notes using the note taking techniques in a later section) but for the most part I just stopped. Instead of learning in an auditory/physical way that doesn’t work for me I started to learn in a visual/auditory way. I put my pen down, I faced the lecturer and I watched (visual) and listened (auditory) and concentrated on everything they were saying.

The result for me was that my grades and everything else went up immediately. The interesting thing about modes of learning is that this worked for me but the person sitting next to me might have had their grades go down if they did what I did. The key with making modes of learning work is to find your modes and use them to your advantage as I did.


Reflect on how you learn best. Do you want to see a demonstration or watch a video (visual)? Do you want to listen to a lecture or a podcast (auditory)? Do you want to draw, build or play with equipment to learn (physical/knaesthetic)?

Creating A Productive Study Space ⇠Previous Lesson
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