Learning is the process through which our brains gain new information from various events and encounters we go through in life. Most of this knowledge is a lifelong asset, and its permanence impacts our very perception of the world. We learn every day about our world and how to survive in it. Learning is a continuous, natural, and essential process.
Even though curiosity is native to all humans, everyone learns at their own pace. And this diversity is the reason for different learning styles.
Learning Style can be defined as the way people interact with and extract information. Understanding the concept of learning styles and acknowledging their discrete types is an important factor in teaching.
One such learning style is the kinesthetic learning style. Kinesthetic learning can be defined as learning through practical application. People who prefer moving and doing over attending lectures are kinesthetic learners. Students not only just listen but get first-hand experience with the subject. This engages more than one sensory organ, making understanding and remembering easier.
Before we define the Kinesthetic Learning style, we need to discuss the VARK model first.
The VARK Model
Learning styles have been studied for ages. From Kolb to Jungian, there have been many theorists who have presented their thesis about the same. One such study was done by Neil Fleming, a teacher from New Zealand, in 1987. His notable contribution to the field is the VARK model.
VARK stands for the four learning modules it defines – Visual(V), Auditory(A), Read/Write(R), and Kinesthetic(K). This 16-point questionnaire-based analysis assorts examinees into the four aforementioned categories, thus giving ideas for teaching and learning enhancement.
As per the VARK model, there are 4 types of learners:
- Visual: Those who prefer learning using images, charts, graphs, or movies are referred to as visual learners.
- Auditory: Those who relate better to verbal discussions and debates and depend upon the voice or tone of the people they learn from. Aural learners memorize stuff through songs and music.
- Readers and Writers: Book lovers (bibliophiles) and those who are good at taking notes (amanuensis) fall in this category.
- Kinesthetic: The motion learners. These learners lean towards agile methods of learning, like game-based learning. They retain knowledge better through fun activities like puzzles, games, etc.
Out of all the above categories, the Kinesthetic style of learning is the most popular. A 1978 study by Kenneth and Rita Dunn revealed kinesthetic learners to be almost 30-40% of the candidate pool under observation.
Let us now discuss kinesthetic learning from a broader perspective.
What is Kinesthetic Learning Style?
This is a style of learning where the student utilizes the sense of their body movements. The term kinesthetic comes from kinesthesia, defined by the Oxford Dictionary as “awareness of the position and movement of the parts of the body by means of sensory organs (proprioceptors) in the muscles and joints.”
Kinesthetic learning engages the student in active tasks to impart knowledge. Instead of the age-old classroom format where teachers recite and students follow, kinesthetic learning upgrades expertise through physical activities. Writing to memorize, creating working prototypes, using flashcards to study, engaging in on-site projects, and exploring real-life examples, are all forms of kinesthetic learning.
This physical form of learning uses our cerebellum and the motor cortex present (at the back of the frontal lobe) to gain information, as these parts of our brain control our movements. That’s why demonstration intrigues kinesthetic learners. Kinesthetic learners are often confused with people having ADHD and ADD since both show hyperactivity and an aversion to mundane tasks.
Now that we have an insight into the meaning of kinesthetic learning, we shall move on to know about kinesthetic learners.
Who is a Kinesthetic Learner?
Kinesthetic learners are often referred to as tactile learners as well. They connect their learning and development with their practical utilization of the subject matter. They tend to involve themselves in the learning process rather than just memorizing stuff.
Let us have a look at certain characteristics of tactical learners that help identify their needs:
Movement is crucial: Kinesthetic learners understand and learn better on the move. It can be as simple as chewing a piece of gum. This way, they are engaging more than one of their sensory organs, thus making it easier for them to remember the concepts. So the next time they repeat the same activity, they will recollect the content word by word.
Note:It is better to choose activities that are easier to repeat even in public.
Variety of Movements: Kinesthetic learners can go for any kind of motion learning pattern. Field trips, dancing, building things, maneuvering on tools and instruments, sports, explaining through hand gestures or movements, puzzles, spelling tests, drawing and/or sketching, cooking, or trying out products are a range of motor movements preferred by kinesthetic learners.
Fidgety physical behaviors: Antsy movements come naturally to kinesthetic learners. This mobility may appear to be restlessness or disinterest to others, while the student might just be associating motions with learning. They keep shaking their knees, or they crack knuckles; they like tossing, spinning, or kicking objects like balls. They unknowingly start tapping their feet, or pen, or maybe the table, or they may choose to walk while studying or revising.
Love documentation: We know people who are always scribbling their thoughts or important lectures. Journaling is a typical preference of kinesthetic learners, as writing down notes works better than typing.
Trouble abiding by rules: Kinesthetic learners are more comfortable with active participation and creation than following the herd. Instructions become a tad tricky for tactical learners to follow as it becomes dull and repetitive for them.
Inactivity hinders learning: Sitting in the same place for extended periods is not a tactical learner’s cup of tea. An unvarying environment gives them the feeling of being stuck.
Tactile Sensation: Kinesthetic learners touch and feel things around them to learn about their surroundings. At times, these actions can be subconscious or involuntary. For example, running their hands through items in a shopping aisle. Chewing gum, and rocking in a chair, are greatly favored tactical movements by kinesthetics.
Inborn Qualities: Kinesthetic learners have innate vitality about them, due to which they respond quickly to their surroundings. As they learn better through practical examples, they have a strong knack for experimentation. They have procedural memory; this makes it easier for them to replicate the entire working process instead of just narrating through words.
Kinesthetic learners often stand out on account of their active engagement with knowledge. Unfortunately, they are usually misunderstood as slackers on account of their hostility towards conventional classroom settings.
Educators of kinesthetic learners need to understand their pupils’ needs and act accordingly. Even the guardians of such students should support them and help them discover their true potential.
How Should Teachers Treat Kinesthetic Students?
All students, regardless of their learning process, get inspired by motivation. Positive feedback pushes individuals to do better. So, if kinesthetic learners get restless in a classroom, they should not be scolded unless they are bothering their peers.
Pros of Kinesthetic learning
The kinesthetic way of studying fuels your brain. Movement helps increase blood circulation in the body and thus transport more oxygen to the brain. This helps in making the brain function faster.
When activity and involvement are connected with teaching, learning reaches new horizons. Rather than having a one-way method of teachers dictating the content to the pupils, it is better to have a back-and-forth discussion with the entire classroom.
There are many merits to this learning style. Some of them are listed below:
Enhanced Communication Skills: Asking questions unravels new information for the students giving rise to a panoramic idea of learning. The discussion makes students confident and upgrades their social skills
Easy to Understand, Easier to Learn: Having a practical experience of what they are studying will help them, in the long run, to actually put the knowledge to appropriate use. Also, being part of the experience helps students remember all aspects of it.
A boost to creativity: Partaking in activity makes the brain open to new possibilities. This helps elevate our creative thinking skills.
Upgrade in analytics: Both the critical and analytical parts of our brains are engaged in the case of tactical learning. Practically analyzing the issue solves it much faster than just sitting and thinking.
Mastering risk management: Direct engagement unravels all aspects of any event, even the negative ones. This way, students get to experience the possible outcomes of the situation and learn to handle mishaps. This also motivates students to do better and increases confidence over time.
Cultivates sportsmanship: Working alone or as a team teaches discipline and sincerity. Handling the situation on your own makes students robust and self-reliant. At the same time, working as a team makes you a team player. These values nurture the character way early in life.
Provides break from stress: Delivering lessons through activities breaks the monotony of the old-fashioned teaching ways. Unlike being cooped up in a room or a desk, movement will never be boring and stressful.
Teaching Strategies for Kinesthetic Learners
Certain teaching strategies work well for kinesthetic learners. These targeted lessons will go a long way in aiding kinesthetic learners to excel in life:
- As moving is significant for tactical learners, engaging them in activities will be better for them. Delivering knowledge through games, puzzles, or treasure hunts will make them absorb the knowledge faster and remember it for a longer period.
- Create a scenario involving the subject matter. Hands-on activities make learning fun for tactical learners. Using slime also helps a great deal in this way; multiple sensory organs get engaged at once.
- Rather than simple boring lectures with just words, using hand gestures and sign language may help concentrate more. Depicting a scenario with the help of stories and sign language goes a long way, as this will explore the subject matter way better.
- Gamification is imparting knowledge through games. This approach will include learning with a fun activity.
When people are happy, they tend to remember details more precisely. And this will also involve all sensory responses of sight, hearing, touch, smell, and in some cases, taste as well. As Benjamin Franklin said, “Games lubricate the body and the mind”.
- Practical experiments showcase the reality of events. And we understand the event better as we are also a part of it. So, designing apparatus for experiments should be highly encouraged. Realistic learning is active learning. Experiments reveal real-world tasks and their ultimate outcomes. This is why experiments are included in analytical subjects.
- Incorporating props (like a skeleton, or a globe, etc.) during illustrating a topic makes it easier to demonstrate as well as grasp.
- Dialogues, conversations, and debates about the topic enable an exchange of ideas and prospects. This is also a way of active learning, and this also builds the confidence of the students from a very young age.
- Teachers should also encourage students to encapsulate their thoughts via speech. There should be curriculums that urge students to explain topics how they want. This way, not only do they understand the topic well, but also going through it again makes sit easier to remember.
- Organized teamwork where every child is given equal opportunities is vital. And grades and small prizes for participation and performance are the keys to morale-boosting.
Additional Tips and Tricks
Tactical learners should have access to a more involved and experimental form of teaching. Educators need to pay attention to learning styles to ensure the all-round development of the students.
The Dunn and Dunn Learning style inventory stated in 1990- “The reason why so many children fail is not because of the curriculum, but the instructional approaches that are dissonant with their learning styles.“
Henceforth, there are certain measures that, when adopted, help students reach their highest potential.
Let us move on to look at some of the strategies that will help students learn better:
- Motivation through rewards rather than negative backlash for mistakes.
- The students should be given the option to choose from puzzle solving or reading out loud, group discussions, or any other kinds of games that might be enjoyed by them while also learning the topic involved.
- All students must feel included and appreciated. Any kind of major backlash or distinction should not be entertained. When an individual feels welcomed, it encourages them to do better.
- Organized body movements should be included. Dance can be a significant form of study. Each dance movement can be associated with a piece of information. When the students enjoy dancing, they will memorize the subject matter along with the dance steps.
- All the consequences of the activities should be considered and explained firsthand to avoid any chaos in the future. Also, it should be advocated that it is ok to make mistakes.
Best Suited Professions for Kinesthetic Learners
Dynamic jobs are any kinesthetic learner’s go-to choice. Professions that keep them on the move make them shine and thrive. Some of such professions are:
- Artistic Jobs
Renowned and Successful Kinesthetic Learners
There are so many famous kinesthetic learners with noteworthy achievements in various fields. Sports personalities like Michael Jordan, Lionel Messi, and Tiger Woods, actors Jim Carrey and Charlie Chaplin, stuntman Harry Houdini, and martial artist Bruce Lee are all tactical learners.
The kinesthetic model of teaching is not only supportive of tactical learners, but it is also beneficial for all students. This form of teaching makes learning fun for everyone and generates interest. When students learn through various activities, they feel happy, excited, and motivated. As a result, lessons learned are retained for a longer period of time as both the intellectual and emotional abilities of the brain are involved. This is the biggest merit of this learning style.