Learning Effectively: An Introduction

As your time in college begins, you probably have a lot of questions relating to how to do well in school—How do people manage to get everything done? What’s the best way to remember everything you have to read? What happens if you need to miss a class? Focusing on concerns like these and figuring out how to become better organized and manage your time are critical, but an even more basic issue for everyone beginning college is understanding your own personal learning style.  All of us learn better and more effectively in certain ways and under particular circumstances, and knowing these key facts about yourself is key to efficient and successful learning.

When most people are asked about the best way they think they learn, some may mention the need to be in a quiet environment; others may report that they need to take notes about what they read. Factors like these are also important for students who are blind or visually impaired, but another consideration is fundamental for them, namely, the extent to which they can use their vision and how they tend to do so.

The degree of a student’s vision loss and the way in which the student uses, or does not use, his or her vision—or other senses like hearing or touch—to read and to learn are such crucial factors that an analysis called a Learning Media Assessment (LMA) must be conducted for elementary and secondary students who are visually impaired and who receive special education services in this country. The purpose of an LMA is to determine a child’s most effective medium for reading—braille or print, for example—and his or her most effective sense for learning—vision, hearing, or touch. This information is the very foundation for the materials and techniques used for the child’s instruction in school.

If you don’t know the results of any LMA that may have been performed before you arrived in college, you may want to contact your high school teacher of students with visual impairments, your school, or your school district. (If that’s not feasible, the following article “Finding Your Own Learning Style” can help.) Armed with this knowledge, you’re on the way to finding efficient ways to read and study, to applying the assistive technology and devices that are most helpful and supportive to you, and to realizing your goal—college success!


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