Skip to Main Content

Library Services

Learning at university

Learn how you learn

Understanding common patterns in how we learn, as well as developing an awareness of the aims, methods and approaches used within university teaching and learning, will aid you in being more efficient and effective in your own course learning and independent study.

What is learning (at university)?

Learning about the process of learning is empowering as a student as it provides essential insights and strategies better enabling you to excel academically. It can aid in developing effective study techniques, time management skills, and problem-solving abilities and in doing so enhance your overall assessment and academic performance. By understanding how you are being taught and how you learn best you can begin tailoring your approach to your module learning and the related independent study you undertake. The self-awareness gained not only facilitates success within university but can also prepare you for future challenges in a increasingly complex and evolving job markets where the ability to engage in continuous learning and adapt your learning approaches is a valuable asset for career development.

Why is it important to you?

Learning a little about a few key theories of learning sooner rather than later in your academic studies can be a shrewd and tactical investment of time and energies. It will aid in developing a self-aware approach to your abilities as an academic learner coupled with a greater insight regarding your own learning preferences - the approaches to learning and independent study that work best for you and as an aspect of that, your strengths to build upon and weaknesses to address.

The primary aim is to more effectively align your learning with your wider course objectives with a view to achieving them as with your own aims and ambitions. This does not mean spending significant time studying theoretical models of learning and teaching in great depth at the expense of other key priorities. By acquiring a basic practical 'working' awareness of the central ideas covered in this guide (many of which overlap and influence one another), you can quickly learn to recognise the common principles of learning being applied in the learning and assessment processes you encounter on your course.

Benefits of learning about learning include:

  • Effective and efficient learning: Learning about these theories equips students with a deeper understanding of how people acquire knowledge. This knowledge allows them to develop more effective study strategies tailored to their individual learning preferences and course materials.
  • Improved academic practice: Understanding key learning theories provides students with a toolkit of learning strategies. For example, constructivism emphasizes active learning through problem-solving and critical thinking, which can be applied to coursework.
  • Flexibility in learning: Familiarity with different theories enables students to adapt their learning methods to suit various subjects, tutors, and learning environments. Flexibility and adaptability are important abilities for academic success in diverse courses and is a valued professional skill.
  • Metacognitive awareness: Learning theories encourage metacognition, the ability to think about and regulate one's own learning processes. This helps students become more self-aware, leading to better self-regulation and self-directed learning.
  • Effective communication: Knowledge of learning theories can improve students' abilities to communicate complex ideas and concepts clearly, both in written assignments and oral presentations. This skill is valuable in coursework and future careers.
  • Problem-solving capabilities: Learning theories often emphasize critical thinking and problem-solving. These skills are not only essential for academic success but also for addressing real-world challenges in various professions.
  • Time management: Understanding learning theories can help students manage their time more efficiently. Creating structured study schedules that align with preferred learning styles and course requirements can aid in devloping confidence and effectiveness in class and during independent study.
  • Reducing academic stress: Effective learning strategies reduce the potential for academic stress and worry. When students know how to approach their studies effectively, they are more likely to perform well in assessments, leading to increased confidence and lower stress levels.
  • Ethical and inclusive learning: Learning about learning theories highlights the way in which diversity and ethical considerations inform contemporary learning design. This knowledge promotes a greater awareness of diverse perspectives as well as appropriate ethical behaviour in academic pursuits and supports students to make informed decisions within future professional careers.
  • Interdisciplinary insights: Many learning theories draw from multiple disciplines, allowing students to make connections between various areas of study. This interdisciplinary perspective enriches understanding of complex subject areas, highlights the interdependent nature of academic knowledge and encourages creative thinking.
  • Lifelong learning: Understanding learning theories encourages a lifelong learning mindset. Such an approach to learning is a key asset in ever-evolving job markets where continuous learning and ability to adapt and be flexible in learning approaches are a key element of on-going professional development and career success.
  • Professional skillsets: For students considering careers in health, social work, education, psychology or related fields, knowledge of learning theories is particularly valuable. It provides a foundation for understanding aspects of human behaviour and decision making as well as creating effective teaching and training materials.

Self-regulated learning

Guides and worksheets

Learning styles - A succinct guide to different styles or approaches to learning, have a read to see which of them are familiar to you.

Reflective learning


Notemaking For an overview of the different techniques involved in making notes, see our helpful guide.

These external links are provided with respect to the quality of general information and advice they provide about this particular academic practice subject area.

A small disclaimer: be aware that the resources linked to on this page are created and authored by institutions and individuals outside of Cardiff Met and that specific information and advice given, particularly with regards to the policies, services, provision and practices of other universities does not refer to those of Cardiff Met. We highly recommend visiting the Cardiff Metropolitan University Academic Handbook to clarify relevant policies, processes and procedures that apply to students of Cardiff Met should you need to.

Self-regulated learning / Independent study

Independent learning - The Skills Pod

Bloom's taxonomy


Kolb's experiential learning cycle

Weaving Kolb's Learning Styles and Experiential Learning Cycle into Your Classroom - In the Classroom with Stan Skrabut
Science Stuff: Kolb's Experiential Learning Cycle - Teach Languages Online with Lindsay Does Languages

Active learning / experiential learning