Improve Your Studies by Learning Your Way
While learning how to take notes and be productive are going to improve your study techniques, discovering your personal style can change studying from being a chore to an interesting endeavor.
Have you found that you tend to remember new information better if you learn it during a discussion with a friend or teacher? Or that you understand concepts if you can find a way to visualise them?
You may have found a clue about your dominant learning style – the method of learning that leads to the best outcomes for you. Broadly speaking, the major learning styles are visual, kinesthetic, auditory, read-write, and self-directed. While all these factors are involved in learning to some degree, by tweaking your study habits to better suit your learning style you can achieve better results.
Personally, I learn best when I have the opportunity to explain what I am studying to other people. When I was in highschool, my best friend was an auditory learner. Our study sessions were amongst my most productive, with me ranting and raving about the topic at hand and her sitting back and soaking it all up.
Visual learners tend to work best with charts, demonstrations, visualizations, video content, and so on. If this is your learning style, try to incorporate visual elements into your study wherever possible. When approaching a new topic, find infographics or informative videos, rather than essays or text-based articles. During lectures and when reading text books, try using visual note taking techniques such as mind maps to better retain information. This will also create attractive notes that are easier for you to review. See our list below of mind mapping apps that are perfect for visual learners.
Some people learn best simply by reading and writing text. This is actually a form of visual learning called visual-linguistic, as opposed to visual-spatial, which we discussed above. Read-write learners work best with words, specifically written text. If this style is what works for you, take lots of written notes during talks or lectures – if possible, you could even get hold of transcripts – and consider reading and re-writing key notes into another notebook as part of your revision. You can also flip visual learning tools on their heads by translating the meaning of graphs, charts, or images into text so that you will better remember and understand them.
Kinaesthetic learning takes place whenever movement or touch are involved. While this way of processing information is ideal for learning a new trade, for hands-on experiments, or for learning skills like driving or using a piece of equipment, it is one of the more difficult styles to accommodate in the classroom. Luckily, CCI Training Center provides hands-on lab classes that are perfect for this kind of learner. Taking a lot of notes can also be beneficial as the activity will help you maintain focus. This will be especially effective if you make the note taking as engaging as possible by using highlighters for color-coding, creating your concept maps, and so on.
When it comes to a classroom environment, auditory learners are in luck. If this is your style of learning, then you pick up information best by listening and speaking with others, such as in a lecture or classroom discussion environment. Rather than taking notes, however, you may be better off recording audio of classes on your phone – with permission of course – so you can listen back to them. Reading aloud can also be very helpful, even if you need to do it very quietly or by simply mouthing the words. Be sure to engage in classroom discussion as much as possible, and find opportunities to talk with friends and family about what you have been studying. Encourage them to ask plenty of questions; the more you talk about it, the better you’ll understand it.
Are You a Self-Directed Learner?
Self-directed learning is not a learning style, as such, but some people do learn better on their own terms. If you are a self-directed learner, you might benefit from attending fewer classes and doing more of your study online, from home. CCI Training’s hybrid programs, where you spend time both in class and online at home, is not only perfect for balancing life and study; it also allows the self-directed learner to explore the subject their own way. Studying alone can be a challenge, so make sure you’ve got what it takes to learn online before you begin.
Four free apps to create visual study notes
Apps make it easier to create attractive and flexible mind maps to visualise your course content. The following apps have been selected because they are free and available on most devices and operating systems; however, there’s plenty on the market to suit everyone.
Simple Mind is just that: a simple, straight-forward mind-mapping tool you can use anywhere. It features structure templates and color-coding. You can also link between mind maps. Unlike other apps, you can’t import images or be creative with your content. But if quick, clean, and flexible mind maps are what you’re after you should give it a go.
Spider Scribe is a web-based app, that uses Flash to run but the opportunities are almost endless. You can insert images, events and locations, as well as collaborate with others. The new drawing mode allows even more freedom of map style. Maps can be embedded into websites and sent to others online. The free version is limited to three private maps and 3mbs of storage.
X Mind is by far and away the most feature rich app on the list but, like Spider Scribe, there is currently only a web-based version and may prove difficult for all but the most computer savvy students. The templates available are extensive and flexible, while the maps created are visually stunning.
While you are limited to only three in the free version, the ability to turn your mind maps into presentations and charts is a stand-out feature of Mind Vector. There are also heaps templates for specific industries and goals if you’re stuck. The map structures are varied and flexible and you can also upload images.