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Apr 14, 2015 · Leave a Reply

Understanding how you learn key to cancer care

By Sheryl M Ness, MA, RN, Manager, Cancer Education Program @smness

Have you ever thought about what makes a difference for you when learning something new?

Think back to when you first learned you had cancer. Did you find yourself taking lots of notes and reading as much as possible about your cancer type? Or perhaps you found that visual images worked better, so you searched for videos on the topic.

What works for one person may not work for another. We all have preferences. It's a bit like our personalities.

One of the first assessments we make as educators when we work with patients and their families at Mayo Clinic is how a person learns best.

Educators will frequently ask how you like to learn new things. Information can be delivered in many formats, such as reading a brochure or booklet, watching a video, one-to-one discussion or attending a group class.

If you've never thought about your learning style, here are a few key points to help you discover your preferences.

  • Visual — prefer to learn with images, maps, diagrams and graphs to understand new information.
  • Auditory — learn best by listening and discussing the new information.
  • Read and write — prefer to learn through reading written materials and note taking.
  • Kinesthetic — learn by using hands-on, tactile (touch) information, such as models.

Most people learn best through a combination of styles. However, you may have a strong preference for one over another. For example, I love to read, so my preference is to read about a new topic, study it and explore examples of what others have experienced.

I also find it helpful to take notes and keep a journal. This tells me that I learn best with a combination of a read/write style and kinesthetic styles.

It's important for you to reflect on what works best so that you can communicate it to your healthcare team. Don't be afraid to speak up and tell them.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on the topic of learning styles. What works best for you and why?

Read more on the Living with Cancer blog

Tags: Living With Cancer, learning, Cancer, diagnosis, Doctor, Healthcare, team, learning style, Education, patient

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