How Do You Learn Best? Part 1
Last updated on January 20th, 2020 at 6:17 am
Do you know what sort of a learner you are? Do you understand how you already process, store and retrieve information in your day-to-day life? This article discusses the profiles of different types of learners.
Written by Lysette Offley
When you sit down to revise, do you conduct your revision in a way that is natural and easy-to-use?
Of course, there is no right or wrong way of doing revision – all that matters is that what you’re doing actually works for you.
Because we are all human beings, we have a lot in common when it comes to learning stuff. But there are also differences between us, and it’s true to say that none of us operates in exactly the same way as anyone else. You will already have noticed the difficulty we can get ourselves into, believing that other people are thinking the same way as us!
There’s your proof should you need it, that we’re all different!
So how does your personality and your modus operandi inform how to learn efficiently?
There are plenty of different ways of being profiled. You’ve probably experienced many of them.
One of the useful ways when it comes to learning, is the Myers Briggs Inventory. In NLP (neurolinguistic programming) the profiles are called meta-programmes.
Whatever you call it, it’s all to do with how we handle information.
Do bear in mind that we all slide up and down each continuum, depending on how we feel, the circumstances and context etc. Don’t imagine for one moment, that you are to be put in a box. But as a general indication, you might find the following useful.
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Extroversion – Introversion – How you focus your attention and energy
This continuum is about where you get your energy.
Extroverts tend to direct their attention outwards towards the external world of people and things. They like being with other people. They are energised and motivated by other people around them. Talking helps them to think.
Extroverts often learn well by taking part in discussions and also by working with others. Look for any situation which involves doing stuff. Taking part in a a group exercise is helpful to extroverts. Always fully engage, because research demonstrates that the more you engage, the more you learn. Extroverts benefit from teaching others what they’ve just learnt. It’s often the case that they don’t fully understand a subject until they try to explain it to themselves or to somebody else. In fact, many times extroverts think they understand a topic until it comes to explaining it to somebody else. That’s when they realise they haven’t quite got a grip on it yet.
Introverts on the other hand, recharge their batteries by focusing their attention towards the internal world of concepts, ideas and abstractions. While sociable, they usually prefer being with and talking to people just one to one and tend to be put off by crowds. They’re more likely to think ideas through before acting on them or talking about them.
Introverts often learn best when they work quietly on their own. Activities such as reading and manipulating information by making revision notes, are useful, as well as listening (either to audio recordings or to themselves talking through the information). Introverts usually need to develop frameworks into which new information can be integrated as they learn. Knowledge becomes the interconnection of material – the old with the new so they can create a global view of the whole lot. Introverts do well to focus on the big picture and chunk relevant information together.
Sensor – Intuitor – How you take in information
This is about whether you observe your surroundings directly, in a literal way or instead, notice impressions and imagine possibilities.
Sensors tend to focus on the here and now – the immediate – and rely on their senses. They observe what’s going on around them and are detail-orientated. They want facts and trust them. They remember things that happened in the past very well. They use their instinct and common sense and are usually practical, often coming up with sensible solutions to problems using their past experience to inform their way forward. They like clear information, and dislike incomplete information.
Sensors like to rely on their 5 senses – or even their 6th sense, intuition or gut feelings. They prefer organised, linear and structured programmes, systems and step-by-step learning. They do well to focus on the big picture of what needs to be known in advance of organising and structuring the revision that comes next. So it’s a good idea for them to establish the topic’s most essential general principle and then establish a scenario, a situation or a problem which can be analysed and solved in the context of this topic.
Intuitors focus on the future. They look for patterns and relationships between different bits of information and facts. They trust their instincts and imagination to help them create new outcomes and new possibilities. They come up with solutions based on theory and understanding of the situation. They’re not bothered when presented with unclear facts or incomplete information, because they will guess the meaning from the information available. They are big picture people and value imagination and innovation.
Intuitors like to discover patterns and relationships in the facts they are studying. They appreciate the big picture, general principles – and love theories and ideas. Intuitors would do well to create a framework, the big picture, first – and then integrate the new details afterwards. They are creative and can see connections within a framework. Compare and contrast tables and MindMaps work well for Intuitors.
This is the first part of a two-part overview, to illustrate the difference it can make to your enjoyment of and progress through your revision, when you adopt a learning strategy more suited to the way that your brain already prefers to process information.
More next month.