During my sophomore year in college, I discovered that for one of my majors I needed to take Differential Equations. Differential Equations (Diff E) was one of the introductory math classes at Rice, each of which had upwards of 150 students. Crammed into one of the biggest lecture halls at Rice, each class consisted of the professor lecturing on the board with students scrambling to take notes.

Throughout the first half of the semester, I struggled to keep up with the rest of the class. It was as if the professor was lecturing in a completely foreign language. As a result, I was extremely disappointed with the results from my first midterm. After some brainstorming, I recognized that one of the reasons that I had been struggling to keep up in this class was because the way my professor taught (lecturing without much classroom engagement) was not at all the way I learned.

My learning style is based largely on interactive visualizations of the material. Thus, for the rest of the semester, a couple of friends and I after lecture would revisit the material covered in class together using a more interactive, visual style. As the semester closed, I felt much better entering the final. By focusing on my learning style, I was able to greatly improve my grasp over the material and consequently my performance in that class.

Learning styles vary from person to person. Too often, we fail to recognize that our teacher’s style of teaching may not necessarily match our learning style. Rather than revisit the material from a different learning perspective, many of us choose to force our teacher’s teaching style onto our study and homework habits. Play to your strengths, and learn the material using YOUR learning style. You will end up learning the material better and faster.

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