Understanding how you learn will help you make the most of your time and resources as you study. Visual learners are those who learn best by seeing. They more easily absorb information when it is something they can read or view, rather than hear. Visual learners want to see the "big picture" and can often grasp difficult information quickly if it is presented in a graph, chart, or outline form. Note-taking strategies that maximize your visual learning tendencies will enhance your ability to retain the information you are studying.
Since visual learners learn best by seeing, it is important to think about where you are spatially in the classroom. Being able to see the lecture, as well as hear it, will enhance your ability to remember what was said when you are reviewing your notes. Charts, illustrations and other graphic material that you view during class will greatly enhance your memory of the subject matter, so make sure you are where you can see any of the visual material that is being presented in class. If possible, avoid sitting where you would be visually distracted, such as near windows or open doorways.
Using color in your notes will greatly improve your ability to retain the information. Use several different colors, and decide ahead of time what each color denotes. Dates, names, places or key words are more easily remembered by a visual learner when they are color coded. Using color-coded flashcards for vocabulary words or other short pieces of information is also helpful. Circling, underlining and using your own symbols or abbreviations on a consistent basis will help you retain the information and make it easier to visualize your notes when taking a test.
Illustration and Visualization
Drawing or sketching simple illustrations as you take notes will help you remember the main ideas of the class. Alternatively, you can add small illustrations as annotations to your notes as you review them after your class. Think of visual cues and associations to help you remember your notes. Writing out or illustrating the steps in a sequence is valuable, as is writing or illustrating in the margins of a textbook. After taking notes, close your eyes to get a picture or image of the information so that you can recall it later. Viewing images, graphics or demonstrations online will also enhance your understanding and memory of your subject matter.
Organization is particularly important to a visual learner. While in class, copy what is on the board or screen in a way that makes sense to you. After class, always take time to review and organize your notes. Making an outline or bullet list of your notes or a particular text is invaluable, but if the material does not lend itself to an outline, try creating a chart, concept map, diagram, story board or timeline with key words or symbols. You can access many printable graphic organizers online if you don't want to create your own. Once you have created a visual representation of your notes, close your eyes and practice visualizing the layout of the page and the information contained in each section.
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