There's a couple of reasons why it's important to know the ways we process and retain information as accounting professionals, i.e., our different learning styles.
One is that a Robert Half survey shows avid learners could have an edge in attaining career advancement. Another is that job training is critical for people in accounting and finance who want to stay on top of new regulations and practices.
So how do you learn? Here are three different learning styles, as well as the most effective professional training methods for each cognitive learning style.
1. Auditory learners
Auditory learners take in information through listening and speaking. To fully comprehend certain details, these learners prefer to hear instructions and, sometimes, verbally repeat them.
Ideal training: You work best when someone simply explains verbally how to do something. When you ask questions, you further solidify the subject matter in your mind. You may find it helpful to look for recordings of training collateral — such as CPA exam study guides in audio formats. If that’s not an option, record yourself as you read the material aloud — listening to the recording later can help you absorb the information. You can also invest in text-to-speech software that allows you to listen to notes, important emails and memos.
2. Visual learners
These accounting and finance professionals best absorb information when they see the material being presented. They also often associate certain subjects, ideas and tasks with images.
Ideal training: Charts and graphs are your forte, and fortunately for you, a finance job is loaded with visuals. If you’re studying written material, you may find it helpful to actually copy words straight from the text, organizing them as you go. Seeing the information laid out in a structured format can help you retain it. Take notes in meetings, and use symbols — even doodles — to link concepts and ideas together.
3. Tactile learners
Tactile, or kinesthetic, learners are “doers.” They can read or listen to information all day long, but for it to really sink in they prefer firsthand experience with practical applications. They take the term “hands-on” literally.
Ideal training: To fully understand what you’re doing, you need to see exactly how everything works in real time as you take part in the process. So your best bet is to dive into a new undertaking while an experienced manager or coworker supervises or assists. You won’t learn much when you watch someone navigate a database, so ask your trainer to instead give you instructions as you attempt to do it yourself. When it comes to studying for accounting certifications, you’ll increase your chances of excelling by taking practice tests.
If you’ve never identified your own learning style or considered the impact of lifelong learning on your accounting career, take some time to think about how you’ve successfully retained information in the past. Or go online and search for a learning-style assessment. Knowing how you most effectively learn things is crucial in terms of optimizing your professional development and, with proper application, could even help you make that next big career move.