Learning Styles and Strategies

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LEARNING STYLES AND STRATEGIES
Richard M. Felder
Hoechst Celanese Professor of Chemical Engineering
North Carolina State University

Barbara A. Soloman
Coordinator of Advising, First Year College
North Carolina State University
ACTIVE AND REFLECTIVE LEARNERS
* Active learners tend to retain and understand information best by doing something active with it--discussing or applying it or explaining it to others. Reflective learners prefer to think about it quietly first. * "Let's try it out and see how it works" is an active learner's phrase; "Let's think it through first" is the reflective learner's response. * Active learners tend to like group work more than reflective learners, who prefer working alone. * Sitting through lectures without getting to do anything physical but take notes is hard for both learning types, but particularly hard for active learners. Everybody is active sometimes and reflective sometimes. Your preference for one category or the other may be strong, moderate, or mild. A balance of the two is desirable. If you always act before reflecting you can jump into things prematurely and get into trouble, while if you spend too much time reflecting you may never get anything done. How can active learners help themselves?

If you are an active learner in a class that allows little or no class time for discussion or problem-solving activities, you should try to compensate for these lacks when you study. Study in a group in which the members take turns explaining different topics to each other. Work with others to guess what you will be asked on the next test and figure out how you will answer. You will always retain information better if you find ways to do something with it. How can reflective learners help themselves?

If you are a reflective learner in a class that allows little or no class time for thinking about new information, you should try to compensate for this lack when you study. Don't simply read or memorize the material; stop periodically to review what you have read and to think of possible questions or applications. You might find it helpful to write short summaries of readings or class notes in your own words. Doing so may take extra time but will enable you to retain the material more effectively.

SENSING AND INTUITIVE LEARNERS
* Sensing learners tend to like learning facts; intuitive learners often prefer discovering possibilities and relationships. * Sensors often like solving problems by well-established methods and dislike complications and surprises; intuitors like innovation and dislike repetition. Sensors are more likely than intuitors to resent being tested on material that has not been explicitly covered in class. * Sensors tend to be patient with details and good at memorizing facts and doing hands-on (laboratory) work; intuitors may be better at grasping new concepts and are often more comfortable than sensors with abstractions and mathematical formulations. * Sensors tend to be more practical and careful than intuitors; intuitors tend to work faster and to be more innovative than sensors. * Sensors don't like courses that have no apparent connection to the real world; intuitors don't like "plug-and-chug" courses that involve a lot of memorization and routine calculations. Everybody is sensing sometimes and intuitive sometimes. Your preference for one or the other may be strong, moderate, or mild. To be effective as a learner and problem solver, you need to be able to function both ways. If you overemphasize intuition, you may miss important details or make careless mistakes in calculations or hands-on work; if you overemphasize sensing, you may rely too much on memorization and familiar methods and not concentrate enough on understanding and innovative thinking. How can sensing learners help themselves?

Sensors remember and understand information best if they can see how it connects to the real world. If you are in a class...
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