readingby Gay Landeta

What is your study profile? Skills to Support Learning!

How easily do you learn? Do you have learning difficulties or are you like most of us and have difficulty learning at times – especially when not interested in the subject!

But did you know that there are 5 fundamental elements that affect each individual when they study. These elements expand out into about 21 different variables. Not each of those 21 is important for each person – but somewhere between 6 – 14 significantly affects study results.

So that means that by determining the ones that are significant to you and making the appropriate changes your ability to study will improve and so will your results.

The well respected Dunn and Dunn model consider that five elements affect ease in learning. They are: environmental, emotional, sociological (how we interact with others), physical and psychological.

The first place to look is at the environmental elements and some of the physical and psychological aspects.

Start to consider how much light you need, how noisy you like it, how warm or cool suits you, whether you prefer a desk or something more informal. Simple adjustments can make all the difference. You may be like a client of mine who recently discovered that when he sits on a hard chair he stays focused – on a soft he has much less ability to stay on task.

It is also useful to consider if you prefer to know the big picture first (a global thinker) or you must have the details (an analytical learner). This will help you discern if your challenge is to put the details into the big picture or vice versa. Once you know this start to structure your study around it.

Mind maps are great for this!

Big picture peopleuse them to see how the details fit into the bigger picture. Analytical thinkersget your details clear first and then in an orderly manner (cos that will suit you!) build them into the big picture.

Physiologically, while we will use all these styles one or maybe two will be the priority learning style:

  • Visual – you need to see it
  • Auditory – you like to hear about it and talk about it
  • Tactile – fiddling helps you to take in information
  • Kinesthetic – you must move and experience to learn.

Start experimenting and include the important ones in your study. Visual is pretty well covered in most study tactics but try talking through your notes with someone – even yourself, playing with a stress ball while you study, moving while you read, etc.

Things that may seem anti-study may actually be just the thing that is right for you. I remember being in a study skills course which included about a dozen teachers, we were challenged to walk and read at the same time. Well, I enjoyed that, I often used to read while I walked to school when I had a great book going. And I wasn’t the only one, however most of the teachers complained how hard it was. During the de-brief they realised that their demands for students to sit still and read might be stopping some from doing so!

So try different tactics to help you clarify whether you are a visual, auditory, tactile or kinesthetic learner.

Next area to look to is the emotional element – do you like to study for long periods of time or do you have a short attention span? If long choose one subject to focus on at a time, perhaps a whole study session.

If short then change study focus often. Generally we can focus for about 20 minutes at a time, sometimes we can only manage 5 or 10 minutes. Use a timer or download an application on the computer.

Some people learn better when they do several things at once. I always remember my dad filling in his tax return while watching sport, reading a book and painting a picture – he needed to do all those things to stay focused and finish his tax. Me, I felt slightly crazy watching all that happening.

Another important consideration is how you like to get your information – do you prefer an authority like a teacher telling you or to find the answers by yourself?

You may prefer peer to peer learning and like working with a partner, or you may learn best by tossing ideas around in a group. You can modify your study by finding a study partner or joining – or creating – a study group.

The final few factors consider physical aspects such as whether you like to eat or drink while studying and whether your preference and energy for learning is best in the morning, afternoon or evening.

Again, experiment and then once you know the best time for you to learn schedule it in.

If food or drink is important for you figure out exactly what you need. For example I found celery or other crunchy stuff made a difference to how well I integrated what I was learning while I was at University. Warning – chocolate is not the best study aid long term but short term those m&m’s were great!

So the big question is what results can you achieve through spending time on these questions? One of my clients recently discovered that two very bright desk lamps, a big empty desk top, a hard chair, an open door to the rest of the house and short study bursts has helped her study enormously.

Another discovered that all he had to do was listen to lectures to remember, fortunate as reading the texts took more time than he had. He invested in a digital recorder and just listened to lectures to study.

Hopefully this has given you a few clues on getting more out of your study. If you are still foundering Brain Gym is another great support…. I run programs and individual sessions that can help support your learning. And let’s face it – we are constantly learning!

Use this check list to clarify some of your personal preferences in study:

light : bright / dim
design : formal (desk) / informal (floor, bed, other table)
chair : hard / soft
temperature : warm / cool
noise : quiet / music / ambient noise eg household chatter

time : long periods / short bursts
subjects : one focus / variety

study companions : teacher or tutor / partners / groups / on own

intake : eat / drink / nothing (except water of course)
time of day : morning / afternoon / evening
preferred learning style : visual / auditory / tactile / kinesthetic

learner preference : global / analytical

I hope you found this opportunity to explore how you learn and optimal learning strategies useful for you Create the Life You to Live. Feel free to email or call me with any questions or to book a session create@gaylandeta.com.au or 0418 795 135.

This article was written by Gay Landeta with the intention of helping you to Create the Life you Want to Live! All rights reserved 2014.