How To Study Better By Learning Styles and Multiple Intelligences
Do you Know how to Study?
Studying is easy, right? Pay attention in class, read the book, and look over your notes before the test. That may work fine for sometimes, but, if you're like most people, there will come a time in your educational career when this kind of studying takes way too long and doesn't yield the grades you want or need. But how else are you supposed to study?
Think hard for a moment - has anyone ever actually shown you how to study? Has anyone helped you discover your personal learning style so you can study smarter, not study longer? If you would like to learn how to make your studying more effective and find the tools you need to uncover your best learning style, you've come to the right place.
I have written these tips for you, the reader, but they can easily be applied by parents to their struggling students. If your son or daughter is having difficulty in class, even though you know they're a bright kid and totally capable of learning the information, it may simply be that s/he hasn't had the information presented in the best way for his or her personal learning style. You can use these tips, too, to help your child succeed.
You may not have one clearly dominate learning style - that's fine.
Discover your Learning Style
There are many different learning styles and 'multiple intelligences.' Some people are really good at relating to others, some are good at music, math, writing, drawing, or dancing. Not knowing your learning style and having teachers who teach to a very different learning style from your own can leave you feeling like you can't succeed in a particular class or subject area. If you uncover your personal learning style, you may suddenly realize that the seemingly impossible is well within your grasp!
There are many online resources to help you find your multiple intelligences and learning styles. The following list are some of my favorite sites that I've used to learn more about myself.
- Literacy Works Multiple Intelligences Assessment
- LD Pride's Learning Style Test. This site also has a great explanation of each learning style and what it means.
- Edutopia has a 24 question quiz that will help you uncover your learning style in just a few minutes.
You may not have one overly dominate intelligence or learning style - that's fine. I am a real learning style mishmash, and knowing that helps me devise study strategies that are engaging in several different ways.
Evaluate how you Study Now
After discovering your learning style, sit down and evaluate how you study now. You do not have to use this chart, but it may help get you started evaluating your current study techniques.
Look at your chart and your newly-discovered learning styles. If, for example, your learning style tests indicate you are an auditory learning but you currently reread the text and make study outlines, you could be 'studying smarter.'
This book is a great all-around resource to help younger students discover their learning style and how to study each subject. It shows how to be better at studying spelling, math, geography, and more. In short, it's a fantastic resource for parents!
This book is aimed at the slightly older, self-help student (as opposed to parents of children in younger grades). If you're looking for a more in-depth look at learning styles and what they mean, this is a great place to start.
Develop Techniques for your Learning Style
Studying in a way that matches your learning style will help you spend less time studying for better results. There are many, many different ways to study, but here are a few of the more common techniques.
- Make a 'map' instead of an outline. By creating a mental or physical map/flow chart, you can better engage your visual learning tendencies.
- Look for other ways to study using games, videos, and interactive PowerPoints/presentations.
- Illustrate your notes with graphs and charts.
- Visualize the lesson. The ancient Greeks used this technique to remember epic poems. They called it creating your "memory palace." Imagine walking in the front door of your home and finding some historical or literarily character sitting on your couch. You'd be pretty surprised! Then, imagine this person walking around being confused by the items in your living room or explaining how in the world they came to be there.
- Draw out what you need to study, even if you just use stick figures. Create a picture of a historical vignette or scene from a story you're studying.
- Create nemonics and draw a picture to remember them. For example, the beginning letters of the nations below the United States down to South America are MGBEHNCP. I turned this into to nemonic "My great big elephant has nine copper pennies."
- Study aloud. Ask a parent or friend to quiz you on material, or talk it over with someone else. If no one else is available, say your notes out loud as you study them. If you feel strange doing this, don't talk at full volume. Vocalize your studying at a whisper, if you want, just get your voice box working!
- Listen to a lecture or documentary. Ask your teacher if you may record his or her lesson or in-class test review and listen to it. You don't have to simply sit still and listen at home - you play your notes while you do chores, for example.
- Make up a song. You don't need to be a musical genius - just put the words to a simply nursery rhyme tune. I still know the quadratic equation for calculus because my teacher sang it to us!
- Make up nemonic devices and repeat them aloud.
These days they're making half-sized index cards! How cool. A full 3x5 index card really isn't necessary for studying most things, but flashcards have always been one of my indispensable study tools.
- Make flashcards. I don't like to use an entire index card for simple vocabulary words or dates, so I cut regular index cards in half. I then go through and write the 'questions' on one side of the cards and the 'answers' on the opposite side. The very act of writing out the cards engages tactile learners. Then the simple act of flipping and shuffling the cards can help you engage your tactile tendencies.
- It sounds boring, but copying key words or dates over and over can help kinesthetic learners. This is particularly helpful if you're studying a foreign language. Writing a word over and over can help lock it in your memory.
- Get up and move while you're studying. Most classrooms today revolve around sitting still and listening, but that doesn't work well for tactile learners. If your teacher won't let you pace around (and chances are good s/he won't!), move about while you study at home. Pace, walk, tap your feet, or do whatever fidgeting feels natural to you while you read your assignments, do your homework, and go over your flashcards.
If you have a combination of learning styles, there are many ways to combine these tips. For example, writing out flashcards helps me. Then, when I go over them, I read the questions and answers aloud to help engage my auditory memory. I rarely just sit there while studying my cards. Even if I don't pace, I will probably at least stand, which helps engage me in a kinesthetic way so I can stay focused. You can mix and match study techniques to your heart's content in order to engage your personal blend of learning styles.
Studying the Right way Helps!
Studying the right way really does help. I'm not just saying it - I know it. In high school, I was on the academic team. We were ranked 6th in the nation for a while, and I was the 'leading scorer' for almost two years. This means I had to memorize a whole lot of stuff! Simply looking at a list never helped me much - I had to be physically and auditorily engaged in order to remember anything.
No matter how hopeless you feel at a particular subject or overwhelmed by a particular class, every single person has a unique learning style. You just need to find yours and try different study techniques to unlock your hidden potential!
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