Your Learning Preferences

Learning at DCU

Your Learning Preferences

Introduction: the importance of being aware of your learning preferences

Learning is something we do everyday. Each of us has different strengths and intelligences. We all perceive, take in and process information in different ways (e.g. seeing and hearing, reflecting and doing, reading and writing, reasoning logically and intuitively, steadily and in fits and starts). We each need to find a method of study that works best for us. Learning styles theory implies that the quality of an individual's learning is dependent on the extent to which learning experiences are filtered through their particular/preferred learning style(s). Learner preferences are influenced by effective past learning, by habit, and/or the learner's own strengths. Research has shown that the more we become aware of our own learning styles, the better we learn.

Before you read any further think of something you learnt recently. How did you learn it? Take some time to reflect on how you learn best. Reflect also on how you do not learn well.

In this unit you will have an opportunity to undertake a number of self-assessment exercises which will increase your awareness of how you learn best and provide you with strategies to take advantage of your learning preferences. The guidelines provided in this unit are introductory and generic (in so far as that is possible!). You need to be aware of discipline-specific conventions in this regard. It may be that there are ways of learning that are not particularly suitable in certain subject areas. All learning skills should ideally be developed within the particular parameters of your discipline(s). As you engage in the university learning experience you will progressively develop knowledge of subject-specific discourse, and through participating in it come to understand its particular conventions. In the meantime, if in doubt, check with your lecturers.

It might be an idea to keep a record of the results of these self-assessment exercises in your learning journal (see unit, 'Reflective learning: keeping a reflective learning journal'. You could also record the suggested strategies outlined therein for effective learning in your preferred style(s).

Learning objectives

At the end of this unit you will be able to:

  • Understand why awareness of your learning preferences makes you a more effective learner
  • Verify your learning preferences
  • Determine whether you are right or left brain dominant
  • Understand the theory of multiple intelligences and establish your strengths in this regard
  • Find and develop strategies to enhance your personal learning
  • Establish whether these strategies and ways of learning are appropriate to your subject area.

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