If you’re interested in increasing the impact of your studies the following article discusses the variety of learning methods and why they are as individual as the student.
When my daughter sat her mock exams, my wife was taking her to school just in case the train broke down and I had just finished teaching revision; only the dog seems unaffected by exam season.
Watching my daughter study was interesting, she discovered that you don’t need a white board to make notes, and has been writing on our dining room windows with a marker pen. She also created a game where the answer was under a flap of paper and found that she learned more effectively when teaching someone else, me. Go on ask me a question about respiration or stem cells…
I have written on the merits of learning styles before, but I have focused more on how you process information rather than using differing methods to learn. For example; making notes using mind maps rather than in a linear format or writing on the window rather than on paper… Different people learn in different ways and at different speeds. This is why there is a big push in education to personalise learning, to make it sufficiently flexible for each individual to learn in their own way.
The argument is that in the last century education was delivered in a style needed to prepare people to work in factories. It required little in the way of individual thought just the ability to perform simple repetitive tasks, the same as everyone else. As a result pupils were all taught in the same way, sat in rows, repeating the same thing over and over again, and dressing alike. Okay so that’s not entirely true, there have always been great teachers, but you get the point.
But now we live in a world that is constantly changing, problem solving is highly praised and keeping up to date with the latest information or developments is essential. So learning needs to change.
Different ways to learn
There are of course many ways to learn, but below are a few tips and hints.
- Making notes – writing something down is an incredibly powerful method of learning. Some people like mind maps, others prefer lists or bullet points and why not try Concept Mapping. The key point, just write it down.
- Cards – reducing down what you have to learn and put it onto small cards. This is great for individuals who like to rearrange information, putting the most important first or eliminating what has been mastered.
- Get a learning habit – make a routine out of what you do so that you perform a task without thinking. Learn one new fact before you go to bed, always have a book to hand or have notes on your mobile so that when you are on the train every day you can study for 20/30 minutes.
- Talk out loud – okay people may think you are a bit strange but listening to your own voice can really help.
Of course not all of the above will work for everyone that’s why you are you, an individual; the secret is not to give up if one method does not work.
Stuart Pedley-Smith, Head of Learning for Kaplan Financial, has been involved with training and educating finance professionals for over 20 years. He is especially interested in the process of learning and the exam skills and techniques that contribute towards success in the classroom and in life. Stuart has written two books – The E word – Kaplan’s Guide to Passing Exams and A student’s guide to writing Business Reports.