Using Your Preferences to Enhance Your Learning


There are various styles of learning skills. Learning that has been tailored to fit your style can greatly improve your knowledge. But it is not just these learning styles that help you learn. Everyday living, from working to playing all affect how you learn. Even your structure and direction preferences, your work environment, and if you like to work alone or with others can assist you in learning.



The acronym SHAPE stands for factors that affect your learning.

S stands for styles. Those styles include activist, pragmatist, reflector, and theorist.
H stands for habits. Some habits are very helpful in learning, while others may hinder it. If you have bad habits, you will need to work on retraining yourself to remove them from your life.
A stands for attitude. Just like with everything, your attitude, including your beliefs and mindset, will affect your learning.
P stands for preferences. This includes your environment and how you like to learn. Examples include bright lighting, cold, small groups, quiet rooms, etc.
E stands for experience. Your past experiences can affect how you learn if you have had a really bad or good experience.


Recognizing Your Preferences

It can be very easy to recognize what your preferences are. Once you know, you will be able to have a better learning experience.

There are four factors that you must consider.



In this case, structure is how organized you like things to be in your work area. Those who are very structured like to make lists, use tags or bookmarks for things they found helpful, and keep the area tidy. A routine is a must.

Unstructured individuals will find things to look at that day that interest them. They are not as neat and will make mental notes in their heads versus writing it down.


Drive and Direction

With drive and direction, you decide whether you want someone else to direct you with the task or if you like to take over the task and do it your own way.

Individuals that like having someone direct them want clear directions. They want structure and may ask for ideas on how to begin.

Those who want to drive the project themselves will have ideas on how to start. They like to find information by themselves, and will not need to be lectured about any of the projects.

Let’s take this situation into consideration. Jen’s manager Ryan liked to tell her what to do. She knew what she needed to do because there was always an outlined routine. Jen just did not like being told what to do. She preferred to think things through herself. She even asked Ryan to stop and he still would not.

A month later, Ryan needed to take a leave of absence, so Jen was able to work as she pleased. Jen then had a new manager to fill in, so she took it upon herself to explain that she liked being able to do things herself. Her new manager was happy to oblige.

Two years later, Jen was a manager. She always took the time to find out how those under her liked to work and respected their decisions when she delegated what needed to be done.


Working With Others

Some people love working with others, while some prefer to work by themselves. There is nothing wrong with either preference.

If you like to work with others, but are required to work with someone that prefers to work alone, remember to give them their space first. They will want to look things over and become familiar with them before taking the plunge into the project. You will also want to consider that since you like to talk about the project first before looking anything up, they will most likely be irritated by that.



The environment in which you study can affect how you learn. There are two types of stimulus that your environment could fall under.

Individuals who like high stimulus levels generally like background music and bright lights. Such places may be coffee shops or juice bars. They can work on various things at the same time, and move around a lot.

Individuals that like low stimulus levels will be distracted by things that high stimulus level individuals like. They like to dim the light and work in a quiet area.

It is crucial to keep in mind that preferences can change. One person may also like things from each category, such as dim lighting and working with music.