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What Strategies Can I Use if I'm an Intrapersonal Learner?

by Dr. Mary Dowd, studioD

Intelligence may be measured in multiple ways, according to Harvard researcher Howard Gardner, author of "Frames of Mind,” published in 1983. Gardner also believed that an individual’s unique traits correlate with a preferred learning style. For example, interpersonal learners are extroverts who enjoy learning through small group projects. By contrast, intrapersonal learners are introverts who get more accomplished on their own. Using your preferred learning style to absorb new information can make learning easier and bolster self-confidence.


As an intrapersonal learner, you may find that recording your activities and personal reflections in a log or journal will help you acquire knowledge. Journal writing has many applications. Social scientists often write daily journals when conducting research. The purpose of a research journal is to document the scientist’s observations, feelings, biases and methods, which adds authenticity and depth to the study. Keeping a journal may help you find meaning in events, issues or literary works you are studying. If you are open to publicly sharing and exchanging ideas online, you might consider publishing a Web journal.

Goal Setting

Intrapersonal learners tend to be natural planners. Having a list of tasks to be completed by a set deadline will maximize your productivity. Goals should be realistic, measurable and significant to you. Careers goals are also important because having a sense of direction increases motivation. Because you are intellectual, independent and solitary, you may find fulfillment as a writer, philosopher or small business owner.

Alone Time

If you’re like most intrapersonal learners, you enjoy spending time with friends but prefer to be alone when you need to study. A quiet, comfortable spot without noise, distractions or interruptions is ideal. You’re gifted with the ability to focus intensely on a topic, and you’re most productive when nothing interferes with your concentration. You can accomplish a lot by isolating yourself; however, it may be wise to call a friend if you're getting nowhere trying to solve a homework problem on your own, assuming your instructor allows students to discuss assignments with classmates.


A four-year study conducted by researchers at University College Cork suggests that intrapersonal learners benefit from keeping a portfolio throughout the school year. A portfolio is a collection of a student’s work that includes self-critique. Students are responsible for their own learning by reflecting on what strategies contributed to their mastery of the material. You might find it worthwhile to maintain a paper or electronic portfolio of your research papers, school projects and homework. For each item retained in the portfolio, include a self-assessment of the strengths and weaknesses of your work. Analysis of your assignments can provide insight into what you could do better next time.

Experiential Learning

Intrapersonal learners are aware of their own beliefs, values, needs and motivations, and can immerse themselves in situations. Being an intrapersonal learner makes you sensitive to how the current state of affairs relates to past events. Educational psychologists at the University of Georgia suggest that intrapersonal learners can remember a history lesson on the American civil rights movement by reflecting on their own experiences and feelings in relation to the struggles of civil rights leaders. If students reflect and then write down their thoughts, students can increase both intrapersonal and verbal/linguistic intelligence skills.

About the Author

Mary Dowd holds a doctorate in educational leadership and a master's degree in counseling and student personnel from Minnesota State University, Mankato. In her 20 years of higher education experience, she has taught classes, served as interim dean of students, and worked in many areas of student affairs, including student discipline, career advising, orientation and violence prevention.

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