By Kelly Roell
Visual Learning is one of the three different learning styles made famous by Neil D. Fleming in his VAK model of learning. He states that people who are visual learners need to see new information in order to truly learn it, hence the need for study tips for visual learners.
People who have this trait are often very spatially aware and respond to things like color, tone, brightness, contrast, and other visual info when they read, study, and learn. Some also have photographic memories in various degrees and can not only visualize information after reading it or seeing it but can recreate it.
Most people utilize this learning method at least partly throughout their lives, especially since traditional school is geared toward those visual learners, but some people would classify themselves as predominantly visual learners where others would not. If you’re one of them, you may find these things helpful when studying for a test, quiz, midterm, or final exam.
Since sight is key, visual learners need materials in front of them to help get the information fully committed to memory. Capitalize on this learning style with simple tips.
Assign colors to common themes in your notes, textbook, and handouts. For instance, if you’re studying vocabulary words for a test, highlight all of the nouns in yellow, all of the verbs in blue and all of the adjectives in pink. You’ll associate that particular color with the part of speech, which will help you remember it on the test.
In a history textbook, highlight all the major actions of a particular general, for instance, in one color and all the consequences of his actions in another. When researching for an essay, color code the info you find by topic.
Organize Your Notes
Because you’re so visual, disorganized notes will be largely unsettling to you. Put all of your handouts in one place in your notebook or binder. Design clear, neat tabs or another type of system to keep things straight. Rewrite your notes. Use outlines to keep things succinct and clear. Not only will you be looking at the ideas from the lecture again, which capitalizes on your visual learning, but you can also add new information or edit as you move along. This will help you learn the material.
Study the Graphics
This is a fabulous study tip for those of you who can absorb new information with your eyes. Use the charts and graphics in your textbook for your chapter test to your advantage. It is much easier to learn the periodic table of the elements on the chart than it is to learn a list of the elements. Bonus? Charts that are color-coded!
Draw Pictures or Figures
Even if you are not the most creative person, get out your pencil and draw pictures, figures, and diagrams to accompany the information you are trying to learn. The phrase, “A picture is worth a thousand words” definitely applies to you. Your brain will store a set of drawings of the five biggest cities in Canada in your head much longer than it will a list of those cities. Help yourself out when the textbook doesn’t and create your own visuals.
Watch Documentaries or Videos
Don’t be afraid to step outside of your classroom in order to glean knowledge about whatever it is you are studying as long as you use a reliable source and not some hack on YouTube. Getting a well-rounded, big picture of your topic can really expand your knowledge! And when you are this type of learner, it helps to secure that knowledge through media like documentaries or videos rather than just through textbooks.
Draw Concept Maps
A concept map is a method of visually brainstorming, where you get all of the ideas from your head onto paper and draw connections where you see fit. You’ll start with a central idea — “weather,” for example. That will go in the center of your sheet of paper. Then, from the weather, you’ll branch off into main categories. Add things like precipitation, climate, air, clouds, and so on. From each of those categories, you’ll branch off further.
Clouds could be divided further down into cumulus, stratus, cirrus, and so on. Precipitation could be divided down into rain, sleet, snow, etc. If you look at the topic you are learning from this angle, it’s easy to spot gaps in your knowledge base. If, for instance, you’re studying weather and you realize you have no idea how climate can affect weather or what to put under that category, perhaps you missed something in class.