The learning process is incredibly complex and made up of many factors. We all have preferred ways of doing things. Evaluating what that is can help us influence our learning. As good as a course or training material is, the one unknown is the person taking that course or using that material. Lets consider what determines the kind of learners we are.

Look at these two questions.

What are your strongest memories?

What can you remember most strongly about those memories?

The answers that you give to these questions may give you an idea of the way you remember information.

So what memory type are you?

There are three basic memory types . Visual, aural and kinaesthetic, which includes senses like taste or smell. We tend to be a mix of memory styles but the one which most strongly influences how you remember things is what we are looking at here. I have a predominantly visual memory and I can vividly describe scenes from my past. Diagrams, pictures and other images help to reinforce the learning process for me. Others remember sounds, tastes, smells or other sensations.

What kind of learning do you like?

At its simplest level there are two ways of looking at it, instructor-dependent and instructor-independent, learning with a physical instructor or learning without one. Learners, who are more independent, are more likely to be comfortable learning on their own and can usually exploit online resources better. A more dependent learner favours the classroom and believes that they can learn best from an instructor.

What motivates you to learn?

There are also two ways of describing motivation; intrinsic or internal motivation – a strong internal desire to learn and extrinsic or external motivation where there is an outside pressure to learn. Often our motivation is a combination of both. There is external pressure to learn because of a job, study or something else. Internal motivation is what pushes us in that learning or study. People with strong internal motivation tend to learn better as they often have a clear answer to the next question.

Why are you learning?

Like anything else we do in life there should be a purpose. To sign up for a course or training programme without purpose is almost like setting ourselves up to fail.

Even “just for fun” is a reason. Just because an organisation provides free courses there still needs to be a reason beyond the excuse of a day off work.

Working out the type of learner you are and whether or not you will benefit from different types of training or study is not an easy thing to do. But at the very least, by asking questions about it, we may benefit a little more from it.