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What's your dominant learning style?

  1. Jan 12, 2016 #1
    OK, so there was a question about your IQ, but what I think what is equally important is your learning style.
    I wonder if there is some general tendency among physicists, compared to people of different backgrounds.
    I started thinking about this yesterday when I was trying to read a chapter about Bernoulli 's principle in a HS textbook. I couldn't understand written text at all. It just made no sense to me, unless I faintly remembered our teacher talking about it and I "saw" him and "heard" his voice explaining. If I didn't have this memory, I would not be able to get the text alone.
    Then I watched some videos on YT and suddenly it was all very easy and made complete sense (without the maths, of course).
    Also, when I went to school, I would look up videos about as many topics as possible and then I could remember much more easily. If videos were not available, I'd search for pictures or diagrams or create them myself, making colourful notes with simple drawings on sides. When I studied for a test, I would also recall the teacher's voice explaining the material.
    I wonder if students of Physics generally have the ability to understand it just from reading a textbook, without explanation or demonstration. Because I tried yesterday and I found it quite difficult (well, I haven't done any physics for 12 years, so that might be the cause as well :) )
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  3. Jan 12, 2016 #2


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    In my experience (as a student and as a professor), learning styles vary tremendously among students. Personally, I could never learn by taking notes and found it a huge waste of time and focus during lectures. Others in my classes had to take notes like crazy or they did not learn. I mainly learned by paying more attention to what was being said during lectures and following the trail of thought and by later sitting down to do problems on my own.
  4. Jan 12, 2016 #3


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    There are many learning styles (actually as many as there are learners, although they can be classified into some generalized groups). I have never heard about any particular type being dominant in some professional group.
  5. Jan 12, 2016 #4
    PF has taught me to learn things scientifically. I like visual learning approach and reading books without images will bore me sooner or later. Things may take a horribly great deal of time to be discovered and studied but after a few minutes or hours they being explained by some good educators seem like pieces of cakes. That is truly respectable!
    When I was a student in secondary and high schools, the parents of many of my classmates paid a large sum of money for their kids to take extra main courses of their next grades at home (i.e they would be taught programs of grade 9 while they were still officially in grade 7 or 8 at school). And as a matter of fact they always got good grades at exams and stood on top of their classes. When they reached colleges, things changed. It wasn't easy at all to get graded at 95-100/100 on each test, so they paid to retake the course if they weren't satisfied with the result. :biggrin: Is this a learning approach too ?
    Last edited: Jan 13, 2016
  6. Jan 13, 2016 #5
    Yes, learning styles vary. I think there are a few basic styles, and that education would benefit greatly from a study of this and then doing something to take advantage.

    I had much trouble simply remembering mathematics. I asked the other students how they did it. "Listen to the lecture and write it down." This did nothing for me. I just had to go over it over and over and over again.

    I had great difficulty memorizing arbitrary stuff, I had to visualize some geometry. This was a big drawback. I simply wasn't any good at algebra, and could not learn it no matter how hard I tried. Maybe I was too old. It was like trying to read piano music. It must be learned when young. Or maybe I would have stunk in my youth too. There is no way to know.

    Good mathematicians have no need to relate what they do to the real world. This is a big advantage for them, in the world of mathematics anyway. Maybe not so much in real life.

    I had a terrible time with those pseudovectors used for magnetic fields. It didn't make sense. Recently I learned that it indeed doesn't make sense. It's just a convenient system for calculation. That made me feel better about that.

    When learning a foreign language I have to write it down. I could not learn by sound, not at all.

    Albert Einstein allegedly largely thought kinesthetically, by feel. That is supposed to be one of the less common styles.
  7. Jan 13, 2016 #6
    Well many children learn kinesthetically, especially those under 10-12 years. It is recommended that teachers use something called Total Physical Response when teaching young learners. I find it very useful in my kindergarten class and even kids at 5th grade found it very interesting and during these activities I got a huge response from some boys who usually refused to do anything. They would not pay attention, read or write, but if I asked the class to perform pantomime, they would be the first to react and wanted to go again and again.
    It Is interesting that Einstein had similar style.
  8. Jan 13, 2016 #7
    SiliconWaffle I guess that education is still a highly valued commodity in your area. Having to learn so much in advance must be so hard for these kids.
    Do the employees look at your grades when applying for a job?
  9. Jan 13, 2016 #8
    Yes, it is.
    I don't know but sure they have big brains. :biggrin:
    It depends on the companies. Big ones like Intel, Dell etc if wanting to hire newly graduated students may probably ask for them. And most don't ask for past school records except the graduate certificates if the positions they need to fill in require the applicants to have some years of experience. Still others don't even ask about them but only check candidates's work experience in the field they want to hire. However, working for the local government or education related systems might require all the applicants to own clear school records and certificates.
  10. Jan 13, 2016 #9


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    Sophia, high five to " I faintly remembered our teacher talking about it and I "saw" him and "heard" his voice explaining." Enhancing this photographical and imaging memory power and you score well in exams =) Thats my style
  11. Jan 13, 2016 #10
    Fortunately, I have no exams to pass. Just trying to resurrect my childhood passion for science that was somehow lost in puberty :-)
  12. Jan 13, 2016 #11
    The past is still always on my mind but quantum physics hasn't been able to be of help to turn back time. :oldcry:
  13. Jan 13, 2016 #12
    No, but they look at the prestige of the institution from which you got a credential. You have to have good grades to be admitted to such an institution as a student. Then good grades there to get into the next institution in the chain. Once your education is done -- which could be in your 30's -- then grades don't matter any more. Some employers are even prejudiced against A students.
  14. Jan 13, 2016 #13


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    Well not being blessed with a photographic memory, note taking was essential

    it's not really about the learning as such, it's about having examples etc to reference later on
    for me, not everything sinks in first time around and so serious revision was always called for

    and even in my working life, note taking on training courses is essential if I want to be able "remember/recall" all that was taught

  15. Jan 13, 2016 #14


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    This is pretty much how I learn too, as long as the lecturer uses lots of diagrams and graphs. A lecture of mostly words doesn't do it for me.

    I found taking copious notes to be distracting - I simply had to pay attention to what the prof said. But as the classes got more complicated, I found it harder to retain new information for long. I have to reinforce what I just learned very soon after learning it, by working problems.
  16. Jan 13, 2016 #15


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    I'm like you I never took notes and never studied aside from a quick glimpse through the material. People couldn't get how that worked for me. It's different for everyone.
  17. Jan 14, 2016 #16


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    I definitely do not have photographic memory.

    I just learned worse that way. If I needed examples, they were in the textbooks too. For me that worked better than looking at my own scribbles, written at a crazy pace to keep up with the lecture.
  18. Jan 14, 2016 #17
    I agree, those students may need a voice recorder instead. I met some who did so during college days.
    Or perhaps they only need to put down what seem most important and understandable to them.
  19. Jan 14, 2016 #18


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    I am not saying they were wrong in taking notes like that. The entire point was that people learn differently. If it works for them, fine. It just would not work for me.
  20. Jan 14, 2016 #19
    But I think taking notes like that is almost an incorrect approach in learning in lecture halls. I don't think they will understand the lectures more than those who know what to and not to note down. Did they actually reread the syllabus or check out what today's lecture was all about before entering the room ? I don't think these people did. I mean they may be listening to the professor carefully but they actually don't or can't hear him. Consider how many lectures they will take within a week and their ability to grasp a large volume of knowledge (a whole book chapter for each or several previous experiment steps and analytical results) have been summarized in a few hours then they can sum up their notes ? I wouldn't want to spend a lot of time during weekend rereading, restructuring or reordering them all later while discovering so many gaps between items remain as myths.
  21. Jan 16, 2016 #20
    I do best with mnemonics. A simple formula that implies a larger amount of information. This can be used a number of different ways. At one job (I hated Ophthalmic) I would write OTSS all over the place. It drove the doc's crazy trying to figure out what it meant. We had some nice doctor's and several idiots who thought they were kings.

    So it was and still is "Only The Stupid Stay", so much for the Neumann Eye Institute :)
  22. Jan 17, 2016 #21
    I tried a voice recorder. It didn't help.

    The only thing that ever worked for me was a deep understanding of the material. If I couldn't get that -- which eventually I couldn't -- I was sunk.
  23. Jan 17, 2016 #22
    Share with us your experience as to how to manage your study then please ?
    <Edit: added the magic word :-p>
    Last edited: Jan 17, 2016
  24. Jan 17, 2016 #23


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    Sophia, you may be interested in : https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/SQ3R as a general method that can be implemented in different ways, depending on you style, though I think it is more for material from a text. You first survey , the you ask some questions, then you do a deeper reading, review and then recite the material, to yourself or to others. I notice that explaining the material forces me to organize it in a way that I am more likely to remember.
  25. Jan 17, 2016 #24

    I couldn't get a PhD in math, so I quit. I worked hard but got feeble results. I never did find a method. Except linear algebra. I got great results in linear algebra doing minimal work. No method there either. I just did it.

    So when people say there is no such thing as talent, only hard work, I turn a deaf ear. What a load that is.
  26. Jan 17, 2016 #25
    Except a bitter past, at least you didn't get any string attachments or life burdens on your work. :biggrin:
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