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Last Updated on March 31, 2020

5 Characteristics of a Kinesthetic Learner

5 Characteristics of a Kinesthetic Learner

Learning has always been a part of human nature. As toddlers, we all learn to crawl, walk, and talk. We then attend schools and colleges to develop new skills. It will not be wrong to say that we all are avid learners.

Learning, in itself, is a beneficial activity. The better a person is at learning new skills or concepts, the more successful they can be in a particular field. Many experts have tried to understand the mechanism behind how our brain learns new things. They have developed various models of learning styles, among which the VARK model[1] is quite popular.

VARK stands for visual, auditory, reading/writing, and kinesthetic. According to this theory, we learn things either by watching, listening, reading/writing or by doing. Out of these learning styles, in this article, we will discuss kinesthetic learning.

What is Kinesthetic Learning?

Kinesthetic learning, in simple terms, is learning by doing.[2] So a kinesthetic learner is a type of learner who learns best by actively participating in the learning process.

Such learners need to be engaged in some activity in order to learn effectively. The activity can be physical or mental. For example, if a kinesthetic learner wants to learn English vocabulary, they may do so by playing crosswords instead of picking up a dictionary.

Whether you are a kinesthetic learner or not, you can definitely relate to the process of kinesthetic learning.

Remember as a child, when you learned to play a sport by actually playing it? Be it football, cricket, or basketball, you can’t learn to play them by reading a book or by looking at other people playing.

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You must play the game to learn it properly. This is nothing but a type of kinesthetic learning.

Characteristics of a Kinesthetic Learner

Kinesthetic learners, as the name suggests, are people who learn best when they perform some relevant actions.[3] As such, a classroom lecture may not be the best setting for them. They prefer to learn through activity, so sitting still and listening to others will be difficult for them.

Subjects that are heavily focused on theoretical aspects may not be the best choice for kinesthetic learners. They will do much better in fields that require muscle movement and practice. For example, a kinesthetic learner will more likely succeed as a painter or musician, than as a theoretical physicist.

Here’re 5 characteristics of a knesthetic learner:

1. They Never Get Bored of Learning

The process of learning is always enjoyable for kinesthetic learners because they are personally involved in it. Sitting in a classroom, hearing the professor’s lectures, or watching a documentary is what we call “passive learning.” We call it so because it doesn’t require active participation from the learner. They only need to focus on their sense of vision or hearing.

But kinesthetic learners are active learners. They turn the learning process into an activity, like a fun game or hands-on experience. That is why they never get bored with their style of learning. In fact, every learning process is an opportunity for them to try new activities.

2. They Learn Skills Better Than Concepts

Facts and concepts can be learned by reading and listening. But skills cannot be acquired without practice. That is why kinesthetic learners are more suited for skill-based activities rather than concept-based subjects.

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It does not imply that such people are always bad at conceptual subjects like science or math. It just means that learning skills will be easier for them than grasping a concept. The process of practicing and improving skills resonates better with their style of learning.

However, they can still learn conceptual topics as well, as long as they find a way to create some sort of activity regarding the concepts.

3. They Are Unlikely to Forget What They Have Learned

Kinesthetic learners usually don’t forget what they have learned. Our brain can store information as well as memories. Memories are easier to remember and recall as compared to information. We can clearly remember memories from years ago, but we easily forget what we had heard in the news a month ago.

So it means that actions (things we do/did) are easier to remember than sensory information (things we see/hear/read). Since kinesthetic learners learn through actions, they won’t forget what they have learned any time soon.

4. They Are Better at Innovating Than Implementing

People can be divided into two categories – those who innovate and those who implement. The innovators are people who give birth to new concepts, discoveries, and inventions. The implementers are those who make use of the existing concepts, ideas, theories, and information.

Kinesthetic learners are curious by nature. And because of their preference for learning through action, they love to experiment. As such, they show more interest in gaining new information and experience. They may enjoy working in areas of research or engineering.

5. They make learning fun for those around them.

Kinesthetic learners really enjoy learning in groups. In fact, it boosts their learning process when there are more people involved. There are more opportunities for engaging in interesting learning activities when more than one person is involved.

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The main focus of kinesthetic learners is to be physically and mentally invested in the learning process. And when they are in a group, they will want to include everyone in the process. So, people enjoy learning with kinesthetic learners even if they themselves aren’t one.

Struggles Kinesthetic Learners Face (And How to Tackle Them)

The main problem faced by kinesthetic learners is that they don’t fit well into the formal education style. Kids need to adapt themselves to classroom learning. Even adults have to sit through office meetings, where issues are discussed orally or visually. A kinesthetic learner may struggle in such scenarios.

Another challenge for such learners is choosing the right subjects and career paths. As mentioned above, they should pick areas that involve the right mix of actions and learning such as sports, music, research, or engineering.

However, just because a person is a kinesthetic learner doesn’t mean they can just avoid formal education altogether. If teachers or parents are aware that the child is a kinesthetic learner, it is their responsibility to help the child. For example, teachers can conduct some activities in the classroom from time to time. It’s even better if the activity is related to the subjects that are taught.

How can kinesthetic learners get over these challenges?

More Practice, Fewer Theories

Adult kinesthetic must choose a field of study that is based more on practice, and less on theories.

During the lectures, even if they feel bored or don’t understand what is being taught, they can make small notes about the important topics that were discussed. Later on, they can figure out creative ways to understand the topics in their notes. They can even ask the professors for assistance to find practical ways of learning what was discussed in lectures.

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Make Learning Fun

Apart from the classroom scenario, kinesthetic learners also face troubles when learning by themselves. Unlike other learners, they can’t just sit and open a book and start going through it. They must incorporate some fun techniques into their learning time to make it an active and fun process.

If you’re a kinesthetic learner and want to learn more effectively, make your own flashcards. That way, you can turn the learning process into an enjoyable game. It will help you remember your notes faster as well.

Practice or Enact What You’ve Learned Right Away

Another technique is that after every few minutes of studying the contents of a book or learning something new, spend the next few minutes practicing or enacting what you have learned. Basically, it’s like alternating between reading, and doing some activity related to what you’ve read.

For example, you may have learned some new Spanish vocabularies or phrases for a few minutes, and then do a role play oral practice with yourself and record yourself speaking these vocabularies or phrases. Alternating the style of learning in this way will be very effective in learning concepts as well as memorizing facts.

Bottom Line

Like every style of learning, kinesthetic learning has its pros and cons. It’s up to the learner to make the best use of their positive traits while overcoming their shortcomings.

In the end, what matters most is that you shouldn’t worry about what you cannot do, and fully focus on what you do best. And most importantly, you should never stop exploring the world around you. For kinesthetic learners, the best learning resource is your surrounding itself!

More About Effective Learning

Featured photo credit: Kat Stokes via unsplash.com

Reference

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Leon Ho

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Published on January 19, 2021

What Is Learning by Doing And Why Is It Effective?

What Is Learning by Doing And Why Is It Effective?

The list of teaching techniques is ever-expanding as there are multiple ways for us to gain knowledge. As a result, there are multiple techniques out there that leverage those particular skills. One such technique I want to share with you is learning by doing.

This technique has been around for a long time, and it’s a surprisingly effective one thanks to the various perks that come with it. Also called experiential learning, I’ll be sharing with you my knowledge on the subject, what it is deep down, and why it’s such an effective learning tool.

What Is Learning by Doing?

Learning by doing is the simple idea that we are capable of learning more about something when we perform the action.

For example, say you’re looking to play a musical instrument and were wondering how all of them sound and mix. In most other techniques, you’d be playing the instrument all by yourself in a studio. Learning by doing instead gives you a basic understanding of how to play the instrument and puts you up on a stage to play an improvised piece with other musicians.

Another way to think about this is by taking a more active approach to something as opposed to you passively learning about it. The argument is that active engagement provides deeper learning and that it’s okay if you make mistakes as you learn from those as well. This mentality brought forth a new name for this technique: experiential learning.

What Are Its Benefits?

Experimental learning has been around for eons now. It was Aristotle who wrote that “for the things we have to learn before we can do them, we learn by doing them.”

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Over the years, that way of thinking changed and developed and for a time was lost once computers were integrated into schools. It’s only been in recent years where schools have adopted this technique again. It’s clear why teachers are encouraging this as it offers five big benefits.

1. It’s More Engaging and More Memorable

The first benefit is that it’s more engaging and memorable. Since this requires action on your part, you’re not going to be able to weaken your performance. This is big since, traditionally, you’d learn from lectures, books, or articles, and learners could easily read—or not read—the text and walk away with no knowledge at all from it.

When you are forced into a situation where you have to do what you need to learn, it’s easier to remember those things. Every action provides personalized learning experiences, and it’s where motivation is built. That motivation connects to what is learned and felt. It teaches that learning is relevant and meaningful.

Beyond that, this experience allows the opportunity for learners to go through the learning cycle that involves extended effort, mistakes, and reflection, followed by refinement of strategies.

2. It Is More Personal

Stemming from the reason mentioned above, learning by doing offers a personal experience. Referring back to the cycle of effort, mistakes, reflection, and refinement, this cycle is only possible through personal emotions—the motivation and realization of knowledge of a particular topic tying into your values and ideals.

This connection is powerful and thus, offers a richer experience than reading from a book or articles such as this one. That personal connection is more important as it encourages exploration and curiosity from learners.

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If you’ve always wanted to bake a cake or cook a unique dish, you could read up on it or watch a video. Or you could get the ingredients and start going through it all yourself. Even if you make mistakes now, you have a better grasp of what to do for the next time you try it out. You’re also more invested in that since that’s food that you made with the intention of you having it.

3. It Is Community-Connected

Learning by doing involves the world at large rather than sitting alone in your room or a library stuck in a book. Since the whole city is your classroom technically, you’re able to leverage all kinds of things. You’re able to gather local assets and partners and connect local issues to larger global themes.

This leans more into the personal aspect that this technique encourages. You are part of a community, and this form of learning allows you to interact more and make a connection with it—not necessarily with the residents but certainly the environment around it.

4. It’s More Integrated Into People’s Lives

This form of learning is deeply integrated into our lives as well. Deep learning occurs best when learners can apply what they’ve learned in a classroom setting to answer questions around them that they care about.

Even though there is a lot of information out there, people are still always asking “what’s in it for me?” Even when it comes to learning, people will be more interested if they know that what they are learning is vital to their very way of life in some fashion. It’s forgettable if they’re unable to tie knowledge in with personal aspects of their lives. Thus, experiential learning makes the application of knowledge simpler.

5. It Builds Success Skills

The final benefit of learning by doing is that it builds up your skills for success. Learning by doing encourages you to step out of your comfort zone, discover something new, and try things out for the first time. You’re bound to make a mistake or two, but this technique doesn’t shame you for it.

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As a result, learning by doing can build your initiative for new things as well as persistence towards growth and development in a field. This could also lead to team management and collaboration skill growth. These are all vital things in personal growth as we move towards the future.

How to Get Started

While all these perks are helpful for you, how are you going to start? Well, there are several different approaches that you can take with this. Here are some of them that come to mind.

1. Low-Stakes Quizzes

In classroom settings, one way to introduce this technique is to have many low-stakes quizzes. These quizzes aren’t based on assessing one’s performance. Instead, these quizzes are designed to have learners engage with the content and to generate the learned information themselves.

Research shows that this method is an effective learning technique.[1] It allows students to improve their understanding and recall and promotes the “transfer” of knowledge to other settings.

2. Type of Mental Doing

Another approach is one that Psychologist Rich Mayer put together. According to him, learning is a generative activity.[2] His knowledge and the research done in his lab at Santa Barbara have repeatedly shown that we gain expertise by doing an action, but the action is based on what we already know.

For example, say you want to learn more about the Soviet dictator Stalin. All you need to do is link what you do know—that Stalin was a dictator—and link it to what you want to learn and retain. Stalin grew up in Georgia, killed millions of people, centralized power in Russia, and assisted in the victory of World War 2. This technique even applies to the most simple of memory tasks as our brain learns and relearns.

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3. Other Mental Activities

The final method I’ll share with you is taking the literal approach—getting out there and getting your hands dirty so to speak. But how you go about that is up to you. You could try reading an article and then going out and applying it immediately—like you could with this article. Or maybe you could find further engagement through puzzles or making a game out of the activity that you’re doing.

For example, if you wanted to learn about animal behavior patterns, you can read about them, go out to watch animals, and see if they perform the specific behaviors that you read about.

Final Thoughts

Learning by doing encourages active engagement with available materials and forces you to work harder to remember the material. It’s an effective technique because it helps ingrain knowledge into your memory. After all, you have a deeper personal connection to that knowledge, and you’ll be more motivated to use it in the future.

With that in mind, I encourage you to take what you’ve learned from reading this article and apply that in the real world. It’s only going to benefit you as you grow.

Featured photo credit: Van Tay Media via unsplash.com

Reference

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