Choosing the Best Note-taking Method for your Learning Style or Preferences
Written By Smart Guides For Learning | April 2023
As a student in any field, you may have heard about learning styles. Knowing your learning style and understanding how you learn best may be helpful to maximize learning from the learning materials given to you. Your learning style or preferences can also help you in taking notes and knowing what note-taking method works best for you.
Here are some note-taking methods that may work well for the four learning styles which are visual, auditory, kinesthetic, and read/write.
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Visual learners are adept at visualizing objects and ideas, skilled at recognizing patterns, have keen eyes for detail, and have good spatial sense. They learn best through visual cues, such as pictures, graphs, diagrams, and flowcharts. These visualizations help visual learners to organize and retain information more effectively.
For visual learners, the use of visual aids will always come top of their mind. If you are a visual learner, you should create diagrams, pictures, and charts help to illustrate complex ideas and organize information. This will allow you to see the relationships between different concepts and can help with memory recall.
Mind maps and charts organize the information in a linear, step-by-step fashion. When you use concept mapping, start with the main topic and branch out to the sub-topics until you end with the definitions. Only use outlines or bullet points when you connect ideas with related ideas. Creating flowcharts can help you see the progression of ideas and concepts. Highlighting and color-coding key information is useful to visualize the context of the information. When you want to understand a lengthy topic, watch videos with engaging graphics.
Auditory learners are skilled at recognizing patterns in sound and have good sense of rhythm. They learn best through auditory cues, such as spoken lectures, podcasts, and music. Auditory learners process information best when it is presented in an audible format, rather than in reading a textbook. They focus on the discussion, record lectures, and then transcribing the notes later to solidify their understanding. Auditory learners prefer to learn through auditory cues, such as spoken lectures, music, and conversations.
If you are an auditory learner, you should maximize the use of spoken explanations and instructions by listening to audio recordings of lectures and presentations. Read the information out loud as if you are teaching yourself. You can also create a song or rap to remember key information. If you are comfortable with adding music to study time, you can listen to instrumental music while studying.
Participate in a debate or discussion with a group than studying individually. By participating in a discussion, you engage with the material with your group and understand concepts by the having exchange of ideas with your group. You can use the Q/E/C method or the Question/Evidence/Conclusion. You may write the main question, discuss the evidence with your group, and conclude according to the ideas and thoughts from the discussion.
Kinesthetic learners have strong sense of body awareness and enjoy learning while doing physical activities. They learn best through hands-on experiences and are often skilled at using their hands to manipulate objects.
Kinesthetic learners learn best when they physically interact with the material and learn through trial and error. If you are a kinesthetic learner, you may prefer to write your notes by hand and use physical objects to represent ideas. They learn through hands-on activities, experiments, and simulations. Instead of just reading or listening to information, kinesthetic learners engage in active participation in the learning process that improves their processing of the information. Create flashcards to help you remember key concepts and help you recall the information. You can use mnemonic devices or create acronyms to remember information. Organize your cards according to the main topic or concept by writing the main topic on the front side and the key idea or concept on the back side. You may now review your cards while exercising, walking to school, or doing errands.
Take short breaks frequently to stretch or engage in physical activity between study sessions since kinesthetic learners may struggle with sitting still for long periods of time. Recite your notes while walking to help you remember information. You can also participate in interactive learning experiences like a role-playing exercise or simulation. The Sentence Method can help in taking quick and simple observations or analysis as you engage in hands-on activities. You can check and compile your notes afterwards.
Read/write learners are skilled at taking detailed notes and enjoy reading textbooks the most. They prefer to learn through reading and writing activities. They process information best when it is presented in written form, rather than through auditory or physical cues. They learn through written material, such as textbooks, articles, and study guides.
Read/write learners may prefer to participate in a written discussion or debate rather than an oral discussion. If you are a read/write learner, you may prefer to work independently and may struggle with group discussions or activities that involve physical movement. Use writing materials to take notes and create outlines. After reading the textbook, summarize the information in your own words. You can use the Cornell note-taking method. Write your main notes from the lecture on the right side while take note of the key ideas or questions on the left side. Summarize the information from the main notes at the bottom of the page. Review these notes regularly. Re-read your learning materials to reinforce understanding.
Each student learns differently however, there may be students who can learn more effectively with a combination of two or three of these learning styles. You can be both auditory and read/write. You learn best by listening to the lectures of your professor and summarizing your notes. You can be both visual and read/write. You learn best by creating diagrams and flashcards for key ideas and concepts. You can be both visual, auditory, and kinesthetic. You learn best by listening to video lecture recordings while performing the experiment. Moreover, there are students who learn effectively with all of the learning styles. It is up to you to maximize the use all of these note-taking methods to suit your learning needs.
The best note-taking method for you will depend on your individual learning style or preferences. Learning styles should always help the learner to discover effective learning strategies to learn the topics and concepts. Although understanding how you learn best as a learner is important, learning styles should not be the sole basis of how a student should prepare for exams. In the end, learning styles are the study preferences of a learner. You can try other learning styles that will help you absorb and remember more information efficiently.