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What's your learning style?

Jan 14, 2014

We use different methods to take in information: we observe, we listen or we do. For most people, one of these methods is dominant, easier and more natural than the others.

Pretend you're putting together a desk from Big Swedish Furniture Company. Do you:

  • Dive in and figure it out as you go along? (kinesthetic learner)
  • Study the diagrams and then follow them step by step (visual learner)
  • Have your friend interpret the diagrams and give you verbal directions while you put the thing together (auditory learner).

And, finally: What do you do when you realize you've put the desk together and there's a small plastic bag of parts still left in the box? (OK, that has nothing to do with how you learn).

The theory is you can customize your study habits based on the kind of learner you are. If you don't know what kind of learner you are, take this quick test, or if you are a student at Durham College, their Student Academic Learning Services has programs to help you discover which learning style applies to you.

Study Tips based on your learning style:


  • Flash cards are your friends
  • Draw pictures, cartoons or diagrams of the information you're trying to remember
  • Keep your study space neat and tidy
  • Study in the same location, if possible
  • When attending lectures, make sure you're in a spot where you can see the professor and won't have visual distractions (window, good looking person)


  • Create a study soundtrack (music without distracting lyrics though!)
  • Be part of a study group
  • Read your notes out loud
  • Use mnemonic devices (remember good old Roy G. Biv for the colours of the rainbow?)
  • Make sure you can clearly hear your professor from where you're sitting


  • Make sure you change things up while you're studying: location, activity, subject
  • Use the timer on your smartphone to keep you focused – study in 45 minute increments and then switch topics or take a break
  • Doodle while you study
  • Walk around while you study
  • Make sure you're sitting up straight, have good posture and you're comfortable

Test out the learning style theory by taking the Know the Score quiz. Answer five quick questions about gambling—online or in person at Durham College/UOIT. If you get them all right, you're eligible for a $1500 scholarship award. How you retain the information in the quiz is up to you – and your learning style. ;)