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Learning strategies

Learning strategies

Table of Contents

The learning process naturally looks different from one person to the next. The best learning processes will create a unique mixture of educational materials and formats to fit each learner. So, what are learning strategies, and how can they fit the unique needs of various learners? 

By examining different learning styles and improving your understanding of a variety of learning strategies, you can create more effective learning pathways for your learners by providing them with the content they need. 

Keep reading to learn more about: 

  • What are learning strategies?
  • Different types of learning strategies
  • How to adapt learning processes for different employees
  • The role of a learning management system in improving learning

What are learning strategies?

A learning strategy is a tool used to help individuals understand the content they need to absorb, whether it’s in an academic setting, workplace training, or virtual experience for personal development. While learning styles incorporate how specific individuals learn best, learning strategies are the tools used to execute those styles.

The three basic learning styles are auditory, visual, and kinesthetic (or active) learning. Incorporating these styles into learning strategies makes it easier for learners to accomplish their goals.

Types of learning strategies

Now that you have a basic idea of what are learning strategies, you can see that effective learning strategies vary by individual. For example, someone who prefers active learning may not benefit as much from listening to a lecture unless they actively take notes and engage with the content.


Taking notes is a valuable strategy that can help learners absorb more of the content presented to them, regardless of how it is presented. With in-person classes, learners often engage in note-taking to help with the absorption of content. However, online courses may have a lower level of engagement especially if learners can work ahead on other learning activities or get distracted by other apps or tabs on their computer. Providing note-taking prompts for learners can be a useful tool to optimize engagement in a virtual learning experience and cut out distractions.


When learners summarize the content presented to them, they break it down into simpler concepts that make sense to them. By breaking the content down and summarizing it, learners get a better idea of precisely what has been stated, how it relates to them, and how they will remember it best. Reading over a summary is also a great way for instructors to check learner comprehension.


Rote memorization is often an effective way for learners to absorb important content. To help with memorization, instructors can present content in simple formats that are easy to review. Using mnemonic devices like acronyms or chunking information into groups are useful techniques for memorization. 


Retrieval or recall is one of the most common tools used for studying. During retrieval practice, the learner focuses on bringing forward, or retrieving, content that was previously presented during a lecture or reading. Many tests and quizzes focus on retrieving key information rather than elaborating on the content presented. Flashcards can help learners practice retrieval and can aid in memorization.


Elaboration takes retrieval one step further to not only understand and remember a concept but to also apply it. Through elaboration, students can test their understanding of a concept and evaluate how it applies to other concepts they have looked at in the past. This can come in the form of long-form questions, short-answer questions, essay questions, hands-on practice, or workbook activities. This is a great method for the learner to take what they have learned and apply it to real-world scenarios. 

Concept mapping

Concept mapping is a highly effective way to examine many content areas more deeply. This visual form of organization puts together content in the form of charts, tables, and graphic organizers. Concept mapping helps tie together related concepts and create a deeper sense of connection between complicated concepts, like Venn diagrams or flowcharts. By encouraging students to use concept mapping, instructors provide them with a visual representation of the concept, a deeper understanding of the content, and a tool they can refer back to later.

Dual coding

Many students learn better through a combination of words and images than they do through words alone. Presenting content in a dual format, like a graphic organizer alongside other text or instructions, can make it much easier for students to absorb key information. Learners with disabilities may also find it easier to work through content that is presented in a dual form.

Spaced repetition

Many learners, especially those who have not had the opportunity to develop effective study skills, try to cram down as much information as possible within a short period of time. But spaced repetition, during which students review concepts over time, is a much more effective strategy for absorbing and retaining information, especially regarding long-term memory retention. By spacing out learning experiences, studying, and application of a concept, learners find they are much better positioned to pull that information forward when needed.

Incorporating learning strategies into instruction

So, what are learning strategies like in actual learning environments? Effective leaders and learning and development (L&D) professionals find that teaching employees how to learn is a big part of the battle. Instructors who incorporate various student learning strategies into their overall instruction experience better learning outcomes. Here are steps for incorporating various learning strategies into your corporate training or workplace development programs: 

1. Teach learning skills

Effective instructors do not just teach content. They also teach learning skills. Some learners may have never familiarized themselves with concepts like spaced repetition, graphic organizers, or mnemonics. As a result, they may be struggling to learn and absorb the material presented to them. 

Teach vital learning skills and provide learners with the tools they need to apply them. Employees have enough on their plates with their current workloads. Workplace training and educational experiences should have built-in materials and strategies to help the learner retain, understand, and apply the information. Create the mnemonics for them. Outline a spaced repetition strategy in the course. Provide tips for how to practice a concept in the real world. This type of guidance not only helps to achieve better learning outcomes but also fosters a culture of  lifelong learners who are more likely to pursue future opportunities to educate themselves in their fields.

2. Check your learning management system

Effective learning management software incorporates a variety of learning styles and strategies. Whether employees are engaged in independent learning, group learning, virtual learning, or in-person learning, they need a platform that encourages them to utilize a variety of tools as they develop a deeper understanding of new concepts or information. Check your learning management system (LMS) to ensure it offers the option to learn in a variety of ways that will work for your learners. This may include:

  • Providing a library of content for learners to access as needed
  • Offering customized course suggestions and learning paths
  • Tracking learner progress and engagement for instructional refinement
  • Using interactive capabilities, like polls, questions, workbook activities, or discussion boards

3. Create a positive learning environment

A crucial aspect of creating a positive learning environment is making learners feel comfortable with asking questions or sharing their thoughts. Actively listen to learners and create a safe space for ideas to be shared.

Part of encouraging the use of different cognitive strategies is creating a learning environment where learners feel confident about using the strategies that work best for them. Some, for example, will engage in active note-taking any time they are presented with new information. While others might prefer to organize that information into a more visual format. Some learners prefer to work and review independently. Others enjoy brainstorming with others or practicing in small groups. By creating a learning environment in which all styles of learning are welcome, you encourage students to utilize all the tools at their disposal.

4. Encourage students to take ownership of their own learning

Many students struggle with actively engaging in the learning process. They may passively absorb content presented to them without choosing to take their learning to the next level.

Encourage students to engage in problem-solving, self-monitoring, and self-regulated learning. Invite them to troubleshoot potential problems as they actively engage with the content. Gamification is a good way to create incentives and healthy competition among learners as well. 

Also, explain to learners up front why the content is important and what it can do for them. Remind them of this sporadically throughout the learning experience so the content’s relevance stays front of mind for the learner. 

As employees take greater overall ownership of the learning process, they are better able to increase their learning outcomes and improve their sense of connection to the content, which can lead to better learning retention.

5. Try different teaching strategies when needed

As an instructor, it’s easy to fall into a rut. You may have specific strategies that you know work for you or that perhaps proved effective in the past. However, every learner is different which means every learning experience must also be different. 

By incorporating different instructional strategies into your regular teaching, you’re better able to reach diverse groups of students. Don’t be afraid to change it up. The better you get to know your learners, the better you can adapt your instructional methods to their specific needs. Also, be prepared to make adjustments to the learning experience in real time by assessing and observing how learners are doing. 

What are learning strategies missing? Choose an LMS that fits your needs

A solid understanding of what are learning strategies is critical for designing effective instructional modules that reach your audience. At Docebo, we offer an LMS designed to incorporate various learning management styles and provide users with the support they need for optimized engagement and better learning outcomes. 

Contact us today to learn more about our system and how it can improve learning and development in your organization. Also, visit our glossary to check out other learning-related terms and how you can integrate them into your learning processes.