What's a Learning Style? Can a learning style affect your study habits? You may want to look into these questions if you've ever read a paragraph or two and realized that the information didn't sink in at all--even when you try a second time.
Have you found yourself asking for the teacher's directions to be repeated? Sometimes things just don't stick. What's going on? Is something wrong?
There's good news and bad news. The good news is, there is absolutely nothing wrong with you! The truth is, everybody's brain is different, and each brain prefers to take in information in a particular way.
Your brain is special. If you get to know your brain's "preferences," you can improve your ability to understand and remember things.
The bad news? You'll have to do a little homework to figure out the best way to go about doing your homework! It will take a little time to figure out your best learning style and find out how your brain likes to receive information. But once you figure this out, your study time will be much more pleasant and rewarding.
How Does Your Brain Work?
Experts have come up with many ways to measure how our brains work, how we learn, and how and why we remember things. They even spend a lot of time arguing and disagreeing about their findings. The research is extensive--and it's complicated.
This article is less scientific and it has one goal: to make you understand that your brain is special, and that you can determine how to find your own special way of learning and remembering.
You may have heard about companies that specialize in improving your grades. How do you think they do this? They give you tests to determine your cognitive style, or find out how your brain works, then they teach you how to study in a way that your brain "likes."
To a certain extent, you can do this yourself!
Big Picture or Little Parts?
Some psychologists say that people view problems or new information in two ways: they either see a big picture or they see a group of little parts.
For instance, some history students will think of the Civil War as one large event with a series of battles and a specific outcome. They seem to view things as "big picture" events.
Other students will view the Civil War as a series of specific events that favored one side at times, and the other side at other times. The parts of the whole stand out most to these students: the battle places, individual victories, or maybe the soldiers themselves.
Neither way is better. However, by understanding your cognitive style, you may understand why you find yourself reading and not understanding.
For instance, if you are a holistic or "big picture" learner, you are more concerned about understanding the entire chapter than one paragraph. If you read over a complicated or boring paragraph, you are more likely to skim over information in an effort to get to the big message.
If you come across a paragraph you don't understand, you are likely to shrug, go on reading, then (hopefully) re-visit certain paragraphs once you get a big picture in your head.
On the other hand, an analytic or "little parts" person may be more likely to get hung up on a tough concept or paragraph. It is essential for this kind of learner to understand each part, in order to understand the whole.
You can also explore other tips and learning styles. Find out whether you learn best by seeing, hearing, or acting out the information. It will pay off!