How your Learning Style Affects How you Remember

How the 8 learning styles can help you recollect your memories

By Dan
August 17, 2020

Most people subscribe to the idea of three learning styles: visual, auditory, and kinesthetic. However, according to the Theory of Multiple Intelligences, people can learn in eight distinct ways. Discovering your unique learning style can explain not only WHAT you remember but HOW you remember them. Our techniques at My Stories Matter will help you with recollecting past memories.

How Multiple Intelligences Help Us Retain the Things We Learn

Howard Gardner’s theory of multiple intelligences states that intelligence doesn’t have a “one-size-fits-all” definition. Instead, there are multiple intelligences—linguistic, logical-mathematical, spatial, bodily-kinesthetic, musical, interpersonal, intrapersonal, and naturalist. These 8 types of intelligence can be naturally applied to learning styles. It makes sense that someone who is strong in a particular facet of intelligence would benefit from learning through that lens.

To illustrate how this theory of multiple intelligences applies to learning styles, imagine that you are trying to learn how taxes work. To grasp this concept, you can read articles (linguistic), look at formulas for calculating tax percentages (logical-mathematical), look at a diagram of the taxation process (spatial), conduct a simulation (bodily-kinesthetic), think about the distribution of your own earnings (intrapersonal), or talk about distributions of earnings with your friends and family (interpersonal). A musical learner would benefit by listening to a song about taxation (Johnny Cash’s “After Taxes” comes to mind). People may be predisposed to one type of learning over another, but all are equally important. 

Discovering Your Memory Style

So, this theory shows that there are many different ways to learn things—not just one. But can these principles be applied to memory? Howard Gardner, founder of the previously mentioned theory of multiple intelligences and a professor of developmental studies at Harvard, believes they can.

Gardner proposes that memory is not a single, unitary concept. Instead, he suggests that people can have different strengths in memory, just how they have different strengths in intelligence. This also affects the way we recollect memories as we age.

Typically, when we say that someone has a good memory, we are referring to linguistic memory—how well a person can remember facts and figures, and how well they can remember what they previously read or studied. However, there is currently no measure of how well someone remembers things such as “visual patterns, musical patterns, bodily movements, or the way that he or other persons felt at a recent social event." Although these are equally important components of memory, there is little research on how such memories can be retrieved and stored.

Furthermore, Gardner suggests that these separate skills—such as remembering faces, movements, or songs—may each have a distinct memory-recording process. This would mean that someone’s sensory memory is processed and encoded using a different pathway than other forms of memory, such as information that involves facts or numbers. 

Essentially, this would mean that someone’s memory of how to do their favorite dance move would be located in a different part of the brain than their memory of their high school dance partner's name.

In fact, it has already been proven that some people have stronger semantic memory (recalling facts but little detail), while others have stronger episodic memory (recalling lots of details, but little facts). These differences in memory recollection may be a result of memory styles.

A Unique Way to Prompt Your Memories

So, if there are different memory styles just as there are different learning styles, certain factors must prompt a person’s memory recollection better than others. For this reason, My Stories Matter uses a variety of memory “cues” to help users recall the past.

If you are a musical learner, hearing a song from your childhood would likely prompt an impactful memory. If you’re a visual learner, a popular movie from your formative years may remind you of what you were doing during that time period. And if you’re a linguistic learner, reading news articles from the past would remind you of what other kinds of information you were reading back then. 

Moreover, My Stories Matter is perfect for recollecting memories of both interpersonal and intrapersonal styles of memory. The interpersonal learner will be inspired by reading and interacting with the stories created by friends and family, while the intrapersonal learner will benefit from the self-reflection inherent in memoir-style content

For those who learn and remember by working with others, MyStoriesMatter enables users to invite those who shared an experience with them to collaborate. By jointly recording a shared memory, nostalgia can be turned into a social experience.

Although research is still being conducted on this topic, being aware of the multiple intelligences and their connection to memory styles can help one with recollecting memories that may have been long forgotten. Memories aren’t lost—what’s lost are the necessary cues to remember them

As said by Endel Tulving, esteemed neuroscientist and author of the Oxford Handbook of Memory, “When we forget something we once knew, it does not necessarily mean that the memory trace has been lost—it may only be inaccessible.” Identifying your memory style can help you seek out the content that will most effectively prompt such unreachable memories, opening up a new window to your past.

Ready to use our memory cues for free? Sign up to My Stories Matter today!

To learn more about prompting memories and increasing memory retention, check out the following articles: