Whether it’s in high school, college or graduate school, you can’t underestimate the benefits that good study habits will bring in terms of helping you meet your goals. This can be just as true for your short-term goals of passing your courses, getting good grades and graduating as it is for helping you to achieve whatever long-term goals you’ve set for your career and your life. Still, if you’re anything even remotely like the typical student, there is no doubt that your study habits could do with a bit of improving.
The only problem is that there is no one piece of study advice that works for everyone, and the reason for this is that each person has their own unique learning style. In this sense, understanding what learning style works best for you can hold the key quickly developing better study habits by ensuring you know which methods of studying and learning work for you and which ones definitely don’t. In fact, learning what doesn’t work is potentially even more important. It essential that you find a way to study that allows you to both retain your focus and actually take in the material you’re trying to learn, and this is precisely where your own learning style plays an important role.
A Quick Introduction to Learning Styles
There are various theories concerning learning styles. Some people break different types of learners down into numerous categories, but in truth, most of these are just sub-sections of the same four main styles. Typically, people are classified as being either visual, auditory, reading/writing and kinesthetic learners, and this classification essentially states what type of learning activities a person responds best to.
Visual learners obviously learn easier when they are aided by pictures and videos, whereas auditory learners are those people whose understanding and comprehension is greatly improved by listening to the subject matter being read or discussed out loud. The reading/writing style is simple to understand and refers to people who learn best simply by reading textbooks and taking notes. On the other hand, kinesthetic learners are a much more difficult group to cater to. These people learn best by using their physical senses, which means somehow using their body, hands, feet, sense of touch, etc. Some people further break things down further by including linguistic learners, i.e. those who learn better by speaking and reading, and logical learners or those that obviously learn best when using reason or when things are presented in a logical, systematic way.
Adapting Your Study Habits to Match Your Specific Learning Style
There are a wide variety of things that you can do to study according to your own learning style, but most of them obviously depend on your own specific style. This means first using a learning style test to get a better understanding of what works best for you. In truth, very few people fit completely into one style. Instead, most people are usually a combination of two or even three different styles. It can also depend a lot on the particular subject matter as you might find that one style works better for you when studying one subject and not at all for another.
Nonetheless, once you’ve finally determined which style or styles are a best match, it’s then time to find ways to adapt your studying to fit that specific style. In some cases, this can be extremely simple, while others may find it all much more difficult.
For those who learn best by reading and writing, you might consider buying used textbooks online if you don’t feel your assigned books do a good enough job of explaining the subject matter or if you just want to supplement your knowledge with information from another source. As previously mentioned, kinesthetic learners are usually the hardest to cater to. This means you might need to get creative and try to come up with games or other activities that somehow incorporate whatever you need to learn.
The internet has ensured that there are also a huge number of resources available for both visual and auditory learners. YouTube and other sites are full of thousands upon thousands of lectures, explanations and discussions on virtually any subject matter you could ever encounter during your studies. Not only that, but many of them are produced by some of the most respected minds in their respective fields, which often means they are of far better quality and much more thorough than your own instructors’ lectures. Listening and watching these videos, podcasts and other information can provide a huge boost to visual and auditory learners. In fact, it may help you to understand the subject matter far better than you could ever hope to simply by reading your textbook and looking over your notes.
Individual vs. Social Learning Styles
The four basic learning styles could be referred to as your individual learning style, but this is only part of the picture. An equally important part of a person’s study habits is whether they prefer studying alone or in a pair or group. Of course, it’s not all about what you prefer since what’s more important is what works best for you, i.e. what allows you to get the most studying done and learn in the most efficient and effective way.
This other part could be termed your social learning style, which basically only includes two categories since you either study better on your own or learn more by studying with other people. Still, a big part of developing the best possible study habits means carefully considering whether you’re more of an intrapersonal (solitary) or interpersonal (social) learner.
It is obviously much easier for solitary learners to adapt their study habits to meet their individual learning style since they only have to worry about themselves. Of course, it all becomes a bit more difficult if you’re the type of person that learns best as part of a group. In this case, it is helpful to attempt to study with people who have a similar learning style to your own. Either that or at least try to find people who are accepting of your specific learning needs and willing to partly adapt the study sessions so that they incorporate activities that give you a better chance of actually taking everything in.
At the end of the day, developing better study habits usually starts with identifying both your good and bad habits. In fact, carefully considering your habits and what works well/doesn’t work may also help you to better understand your learning style. Still, it doesn’t really matter what you do as long as you always make sure to focus on trying to be the best student you can be.