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Published on January 7, 2021

How To Learn Effectively With Kinesthetic Learning Style

How To Learn Effectively With Kinesthetic Learning Style

My daughter is always on the go. She’s not one of those children who sit still for hours musing over a toy or a book. Nope. She’s much more likely to be jumping off the sofa like some kind of WWE wrestler or running back and forth, pushing herself off the walls—also like some kind of WWE wrestler. So, instead of trying to force her to sit still and learn her letters, I try to use activities for people with kinesthetic learning styles to make learning better suited for her current developmental stage.

The 4 Learning Styles

You’ve probably heard about learning styles by now. Maybe someone claimed that they were a visual learner, or a teacher dubbed you an auditory learner. Learning styles began in the 1990s when New Zealander Neil Fleming created a questionnaire to assess how people preferred to learn new information. This questionnaire is known as the VARK and is still used to determine people’s learning styles today.

There are four main learning styles according to Fleming’s VARK questionnaire:

  • Visual – Visual learners like to see new information. They prefer charts, graphs, and films over reading or hearing information—think images over sounds, movements, or written words.
  • Auditory or Aural – Auditory learners prefer to hear new information. They tend to be drawn to audiobooks and music.
  • Reading/Writing – Reading/writing learners prefer to do exactly that—read and write. They focus well when reading new information and readily process information by taking notes.
  • Kinesthetic – Kinesthetic learners are drawn to movement. They tend to be out of their seats figuring out new information spatially and physically.

Problem With Fleming’s Learning Styles

Because we’ve had nearly thirty years to study the efficacy of Fleming’s learning styles, we now know that learning styles are only a preference. Using your preferred learning style does not actually improve learning outcomes. That means if you prefer visual inputs, charts and graphs may be more comfortable for you, but using them doesn’t help you learn more.

A better way to think about learning styles is as learning preferences, but if you want to boost your learning, you should focus more on matching the learning style with the task at hand.

For example, I struggle with auditory information. When someone spells something aloud, I have a tough time processing what they’re spelling. However, I’ve had success with auditory input when I’m memorizing lines for a play or learning the lyrics of a song. Instead of saying that I’m a reading/writing learner or a visual learner, I know that my learning style depends on what it is I’m trying to learn.

What Are Kinesthetic Learning Styles?

Kinesthetic learning is embodied, active, and tactile. Instead of listening to a lecture or reading a book, the kinesthetic learning style involves moving through space. Even if you consider yourself more of a visual, auditory, or reading/writing learner, kinesthetic learning techniques can help you energize and memorize new information.

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1. Energize

Kinesthetic learning techniques are a great way to wake up and get the blood pumping, which can help you study longer. If you find yourself yawning or falling asleep, you may want to stand up and move or get creative more with your learning strategies.

2. Memorize

Kinesthetic learning techniques are also a great way to unconsciously memorize new information. Procedural memory is when your body knows how to do something without you having to think consciously about it.

Think about riding a bike. If you had to think about every complicated step involved in bike riding, you’d crash every time you even attempted it. But procedural memory allows your body to just do it.

You can use your procedural memory to expand the amount of information you learn. When you get new information “in the body,” you’re really recording it as procedural memory, and you can memorize way more unconsciously than you can consciously.

Get the Most Out of Kinesthetic Learning Styles

Let’s say I’ve convinced you to try kinesthetic learning techniques. Besides just standing up and moving through space, here’s a more specific list of ways you can get the most of kinesthetic learning styles:

1. Get Up

The first and simplest way to get kinesthetic is to stand up. That’s right—get out of your chair. Get a standing desk or take a walk while you think something over. Since a kinesthetic learning style has to do with movement, the first step is to stand up and get moving.

2. Move Through Space

The next trick for kinesthetic learning styles is to move. Walk around while you memorize, process new information, or try to solve problems.

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I like to pace when I’m on a phone call or walk the dog when I’m having some writer’s block. This helps get the blood pumping and helps keep me alert and creative.

3. Make It Tactile

Another way to make learning kinesthetic is to make it tactile. Incorporate objects that you can move around. Use index cards hung around the room to develop a plot or an essay. Make a model of the solar system instead of just reading about it. Create a physical flashcard deck to memorize new things instead of learning them on the computer or from a book.

The more you can cut, paste, shape, bend, fold, and manipulate, the better.

4. Place Things Places

One way that I tried to accommodate my daughter’s current kinesthetic learning style is by placing letters around the room. I then asked her to stand in the middle of the room and run to a certain letter. This approach was successful for a few reasons.

First, by making learning a game—or “gamifying”—I was making it fun and competitive, which kept my daughter engaged for longer.[1]

Second, by making letter-learning active, I was able to keep my daughter’s energy up, which kept the blood and oxygen pumping to her brain. This stimulates learning.

Finally, by placing letters around the room, my daughter was associating letters spatially. This helps make learning more concrete and less abstract. The A is in the kitchen, and the B is in the dining room, instead of just being letters on a page. This helps give her another way to distinguish the letters. Just make sure to switch it up, so you’re not always associating one concept with one place.

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This concept is also a great way to learn a new language. Put Post-It notes with your target language vocabulary all over the house. Put the word “mirror” on your mirror and the word “window” on your window.

This helps you learn throughout the day, but it also helps you associate the new word with the concept itself. When you look in the mirror, you are learning the new word for mirror. That’s context. It’s much easier to learn with context than by reading the new vocabulary word over and over.

I’ve also used this technique when I taught the areas of the stage. I drew a large grid on the floor and would yell out a stage direction—stage left or stage right or downstage center—then the class would have to run to that square on the grid as fast as they could. Because stage directions are already spatial, this kind of kinesthetic learning matches the learning task.

This technique could be effective for learning planets or geography. Get creative and place things places to make learning an embodied, spatial experience.

5. Combine Movements With Ideas

Another way to make learning kinesthetic is to combine movements with ideas. Trying to learn historical dates? Combine them with specific movements—mime rowing when you say 1492, Mime a guillotine when you yell 1789, or a falling wall for 1989. You get the idea.

By combining a movement with a concept, fact, or idea, you are increasing the likelihood that you’ll initiate your procedural memory and store that new knowledge in long-term memory.

6. Walking While You Work

You can also walk while you work. I’ve seen people work while on a treadmill and walk with a friend as they map out the structure for a new project. Walking is a great way to get unstuck. If you’re getting tired or bored or frustrated, get up, get out, and take a walk as you continue to learn, process, and create.

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7. Exercise While You Learn

I’m also a big fan of exercising while you learn. In grad school, I would carve out time at the gym almost every day. This wasn’t a way to avoid my schoolwork. It was actually a time when learning came more easily.

Something about running on the treadmill or stepping on that elliptical machine distracted me enough to lower my stress and anxiety. I always found learning much less effortful when I was incorporating exercise. So, get to the gym and pump some iron while you memorize, quiz yourself, and study yourself smart.

Final Thoughts

You may not consider yourself a kinesthetic learner. I know I don’t. But that doesn’t mean kinesthetic learning techniques can’t help you learn better.

Moving through space and manipulating objects are great ways to get more parts of your brain involved in the learning process. So, get out of that desk chair and get moving to make kinesthetic learning work for you.

More About Learning Styles

Featured photo credit: Tyler Nix via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] Play Your Way Sane: How to be more Playful: Gamify your Life

More by this author

Clay Drinko

Clay Drinko is an educator and the author of PLAY YOUR WAY SANE (January 2021 Simon & Schuster)

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Published on March 29, 2021

How To Apply the Stages Of Learning (With Free Worksheet)

How To Apply the Stages Of Learning (With Free Worksheet)

Are you keen to learn new things but find it hard to do so?

Perhaps you lack the confidence to begin learning something new or you’re unsure how to improve your existing skills.

Let me state this upfront: Most people find it difficult to learn, so you shouldn’t feel bad if you’re one of these people.

And the good news is, in the next few minutes I’ll introduce you to the stages of learning. This knowledge will help you break through your learning challenges and turn you into a super-learner.

Let’s dive straight in…

What Are the Stages Of Learning?

There are 3 stages of learning in total, and each stage can be broken down as follows:

Stage 1: Cognitive Learning

In this first stage, known as cognitive learning, the learner observes and listens and makes connections based on knowledge they’ve already gained, either consciously or subconsciously.

Cognitive learning engages students in the learning process, getting them to use their brain to make new connections from knowledge already stored in their mind. This helps them develop problem-solving skills and improve comprehension.

Knowledge in this stage can be acquired through any of the following methods:

Implicit Learning

This takes place when the learner is unaware of the fact that they’re actually learning. It’s devoid of specific instructions, but instead, relies on visual and verbal cues — which usually take place in a social setting.

To give you an example of this, think of a child learning to speak. Typically, they learn the building blocks of their language (or languages) in a social setting without being formally taught by a teacher.

This organic form of learning leads to knowledge that is successfully retained over many years, regardless of any psychological changes the learner experiences.

Implicit learning is effective for skill reproduction and is also independent of IQ and age.

Explicit Learning

This takes place when a person actively seeks out opportunities to learn. Although — like implicit learning — this relies on visual and verbal cues, it doesn’t have to involve a teacher.

Take riding a bike for example.

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Someone wanting to acquire this skill might attempt to learn on their own by mimicking the actions of existing riders. These are visual cues. However, they may also ask someone for guidance on getting started. These are verbal cues.

Explicit learning is a great way to train the brain to learn new concepts and to solve problems.

Collaborative Learning

This type of learning is most commonly used in educational institutes. It involves collaboration between the tutor, the learner, and other students.

I’m sure you’re familiar with the process:

The tutor imparts knowledge and helps the learners to make sense of it. This usually involves the learners being asked to discuss the newly acquired information and to connect it to knowledge they’ve already gained.

Collaborative learning improves learners’ creative thinking, verbal communication and leadership skills. It also helps boost learners’ self-esteem, as well as exposing them to different points of view.

Cooperative Learning

In cooperative learning, students have to interact with each other and the tutor.

The structure is such that learners must follow their tutor’s instructions. The tutor will then observe and assess the learners to make sure they are learning the aim for skills and knowledge.

This style of learning works best when practical knowledge is being shared. For example, sports fields and music rooms are both excellent cooperative learning settings, as they allow tutors to give hands-on demonstrations as well as being able to watch their students try out their new skills.

Cooperative learning helps students increase their retention power, build relationships and boost their self-confidence. In addition, it offers opportunities for social support and helps improve attitude and tolerance towards authority and those who are seen as different to others.

Observational Learning

This style of learning involves the acquisition of knowledge through observation and imitation of others.

Many people are drawn towards this style. That’s because it makes learning an enjoyable activity, encourages social interactions and enhances memory.

Want to learn more about observational learning? Then check out our article: How to Use Observational Learning to Learn Effectively

Meaningful Learning

This type of learning is the opposite of rote learning. It occurs when a concept has been understood fully and is being applied in practice.

For instance, think of a chemistry student who learns from his tutor that mixing certain chemicals can result in an explosive reaction. Once the student knows this, it will prevent them from mixing those chemicals in the lab.

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Meaningful learning requires the linking of new information to previously acquired knowledge. It is constructive and encourages learning through different techniques.

Stage 2: Associative Learning

This style of learning is where the brain is conditioned to learn or modify responses — taking into consideration stimuli offered. It occurs when old and new information is linked to each other, with ideas and experience reinforcing each other.

Associative learning emphasizes acquiring knowledge from the environment and reinforces optimal behavior.

Let’s look now at the different forms of conditioning of associative learning:

Classical Conditioning

Classical conditioning is where the brain is trained to associate a certain desired consequence to an action.

For example, at work, it could be a cash bonus if an employee meets their targets. In the home, it could be extra screen time for kids if they finish their homework.

Classical conditioning can help to modify undesirable characteristics in the learner and can also be used to help overcome phobias.

Operant Conditioning

This type of conditioning follows the idea that certain actions will result when there is a punishment or reward at the end.

Just think of how school usually operates…

We’re rewarded with a certificate and qualification when we pass a course; but if we turn up late for lessons we may well be punished by being sent to detention!

If this concept sparks your interest, then be sure to read our article: Positive Motivation vs Negative Motivation: Which One Is Better?

Extinctive Conditioning

This is when the brain is trained to not expect a previously expected response when certain conditions aren’t met.

A rock band dropping a song from their live set due to it failing to enthuse their audience is a good example of this style of conditioning.

Extinctive conditioning can also be used to modify existing behavior that may be undesirable.

Discriminative Conditioning

This is where the brain is trained to reliably expect a certain outcome to a stimulus.

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A simple example of this would be training a dog to remain still at the command “wait”.

Moving on from associative learning, we come to the third and final stage of learning — the stage that gives a learner the most freedom.

Stage 3: Autonomous Learning

This is the stage of learning where learners gain knowledge through independent efforts and develop an ability to inquire and evaluate away from the influence of tutors and peers.

Learners at this final stage have enough knowledge and power to control their learning.

Typically, they look for sources that will help them make decisions based on their own understanding of the matter. In addition, learners at this stage take responsibility for setting their own targets and goals.

Autonomous learning causes learners to learn through their own will and passion. These learners have the freedom to create their own learning plan and strategies to achieve their aims. They’re also aware of their learning style and can self-evaluate.

Why Should You Care?

When you understand and apply the stages of learning you can expect to see many benefits, including:

  • Improving your memory
  • Boosting your confidence
  • Speeding up your learning time

It goes without saying that you’ll also be able to expand your knowledge and outlook, as well as being able to teach others, if that’s what you’re drawn to do.

So, if you’re ready to learn how to apply the stages of learning — then let’s jump in!

3 Steps to Applying the Stages Of Learning (Free Worksheet)

You don’t need to be super smart to become a fast learner. It’s actually a skill that anyone can learn. You just need to understand and apply the different stages of learning. Once you understand this process, you’ll be able to learn want you want — within the time you want.

Before I show you how to apply the 3 stages of learning, I recommend you download our free learning worksheet – you can grab it here: Learn Faster With the Stages of Learning (Worksheet) as I’m going to walk through the guide with you:

Step 1: Name the ONE skill/knowledge that you’re taking up

Think for a moment about the ONE skill/knowledge that you’re trying to take up.

Once you know what it is, jot it down.

As an example to help get you started, let’s pretend that you want to learn how to drive.

Step 2: Break it down into sub-skills

When you’re trying to take up a new skill or knowledge, there’s definitely more than one thing that you’ll need to learn.

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Continuing the driving example, you’ll need to learn and understand the rules of the road and the practicalities of driving. These will include starting and stopping a car, clutch control, gear changes, braking and reversing — to name but a few.

And of course you’ll need to reach a certain level of driving proficiency to enable you to pass your country’s driving test.

So…

Please spend a few moments thinking about the sub-skills of what you want to learn, and then jot them down.

Step 3: Assess your personal inventory

In this final step, you should look inward and assess your own abilities.

This is essential to help you understand your current skills, and to see what you lack and what you can strengthen. You can also use this step to throw out limiting thoughts such as constantly comparing yourself to others.

Coming back to the driving example, you might spend some time assessing your current knowledge of road safety (you may already be a cyclist who knows the rules of the road) and your confidence levels.

To make this step easy and accurate, we’ve produced a free worksheet that will enable you to come up with concrete actions that you can take to bridge the gap between your current stage of learning and your target one.

Download the worksheet now: Learn Faster With the Stages of Learning (Worksheet)

Bottom Line

Understanding and applying the stages of learning is sure to boost your confidence and speed up your learning. What previously took you months to learn; you’ll now find you can learn in just a few weeks.

With your mastery of learning, a whole new world of knowledge and skills will be opened up to you.

You’ll be able to learn a musical instrument or a new language. And if you’re already studying at college, you’ll be able to streamline your learning and get the possible grades.

Life belongs to the learners, so take control of your life and your learning by downloading our free worksheet right now: Learn Faster With the Stages of Learning (Worksheet)

Happy learning!

Featured photo credit: Le Wagon via unsplash.com

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