Or do you prefer to start at the beginning and learn in a systematic way, taking courses in a logical sequence, according to a very specific plan?
Understanding how you learn best helps you choose the right learning methods and takes the frustration out of studying. From Peak Learning: How to Create Your Own Lifelong Education Program for Personal Enlightenment and Professional Success by Ron Gross, a favorite About Continuing Education contributor, we bring you an exercise developed by David Lewis and James Greene of the Mind Potential Study Group in London, printed with permission.
Are You a Grouper or a Stringer?Check the phrase in each pair that corresponds more closely to your preferred approach to learning. There are no right or wrong ways to complete the statements; they're designed simply to distinguish your preferences.
- When studying one unfamiliar subject, you:
a. prefer to gather information from diverse topic areas.
b. prefer to focus on one topic.
- You would rather:
a. know a little about a great many subjects
b. become an expert on just one subject
- When studying from a textbook, you:
a. skip ahead and read chapters of special interest out of sequence
b. work systematically from one chapter to the next, not moving on until you have understood earlier material
- When asking people for information about some subject of interest, you:
a. tend to ask broad questions that call for rather general answers
b. tend to ask narrow questions that demand specific answers
- When browsing in a library or bookstore, you:
a. roam around looking at books on many different subjects
b. stay more or less in one place, looking at books on just a couple of subjects
- You are best at remembering:
a. general principles
b. specific facts
- When performing some tasks, you:
a. like to have background information not strictly related to the work
b. prefer to concentrate only on strictly relevant information
- You think that educators should:
a. give students exposure to a wide range of subjects in college
b. ensure that students mainly acquire in-depth knowledge related to their specialties
- When on vacation, you would rather:
a. spend a short amount of time in several places
b. stay in one place the whole time and get to know it well
- When learning something, you would rather:
a. follow general guidelines
b. work with a detailed plan of action
Do you agree that, in addition to specialized knowledge, a person should know some math, art, physics, literature, psychology, politics, languages, biology, history, and medicine? If you think people should study four or more of these subjects, score an "a" on this question.
Now total all of your a and b answers.
If you scored six or more a's on the test, you are a grouper. If you scored six or more b's, you're a stringer. If your a's and b's were close to equal, you find both approaches congenial and can choose the one that best fits the subject at hand.
The higher your total of either a's or b's, the more specialized your learning style is.
If you're a grouper, you'll find specific learning strategies here: Grouper Strategies for Learning
If you're a stringer, you'll find specific learning strategies here: Stringer Strategies for Learning