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Tactile Learner Essay Assessments

Regardless of the situation, learning is ultimately the individual’s responsibility. Learning will not succeed unless the individual feels a strong sense of ownership and responsibility in the process itself. In all honesty, I have never put much thought into my particular learning style. However, since I decided to embark on a new challenge and opportunity by enrolling in graduate school, I have had to refocus my priorities amidst the everyday stresses of life and my hectic schedule. Before I began graduate school, I reassessed my particular abilities and really began to focus on what I do well and do not do well. Because of this assessment, I am now able to draw more intelligent conclusions about my particular learning style, strengths, opportunities for growth, and ways to improve upon my weaknesses.

During my undergraduate studies at Auburn University, I always studied in the morning. It was at that time of day I felt motivated, sharp, and mentally alert. When I woke up from a good night’s rest, I felt comfortable and refreshed, which enabled me to process more information. Each morning I would determine my priorities for the day and how I would effectively reduce and handle interruptions, in order to enhance my learning capacity and optimize my performance.

Finally, I tended to get more accomplished in the morning because there was a sense of peace and quiet. When I began employment and worked from 8am to 5pm, I always took any opportunity to learn new things in the morning. Now that I have begun graduate school I still try to focus most of my efforts, whether it is reading, writing, communicating, etc in the early morning hours before I begin my 8am to 5pm job. Of course, there are time constraints to consider which force me to perform some activities in the evening hours, but I still believe I process and retain more information in the morning.

Based on my undergraduate experience I basically was a hands-on learner. I tended to learn more effectively by taking notes in class and rewriting them later. This is often referred to as “tactile” or “kinesthetic” learning (Kowalski 25: 20). Even in graduate school, I highlight passages in my readings and write them down on paper. I read over the notes repetitiously in order to grasp the information. In addition to being a tactile learner, I am a bottom-up learner. I am a very detail-oriented individual who prefers to have a rock solid foundation built before I proceed to new challenges. I want to learn the basics before seeing the big picture. For example, when I learned to process health insurance claims at my place of business I had a desire to know the concrete specifics of the system and how everything flowed and fit together before I actually wanted to process a claim. I had an inherent desire to fully master all concepts of the system before moving on to claims processing.

Kathiann M. Kowalski defines learning style as “the way each person absorbs, understands, and uses new information.” She goes on to say that “learning style may be inherited…and some aspects develop over your lifetime” (25: 20). I have always learned in a manner which I believe I inherited. I am a very detail oriented individual who likes everything planned and structured. I learn best when I have an outline in front of me with everything detailed in a logical and flowing order. Also, policies and procedures play an important role in my everyday life. For example, at my company, we have developed concise policies and procedures on how to process a claim. These procedures assist me and my fellow associates as we learn the various aspects of the system and claims processing. I could not imagine learning the system without detailed procedures. I recall always learning in this fashion.

I possess pieces of each of the seven multiple intelligences. However, introspective intelligence has manifested itself more so than the others. Dr. Thomas Armstrong defines this as “the ability to understand thoughts and feelings in yourself” (Cathcart 51: 20). I have an introverted personality and have a tendency to be quite shy in group settings. Many times I do not publicly participate, but work diligently behind the scenes. I am a self-motivated individual who always contributes to the overall group effort despite my shyness. I have an innate desire for advancement and achievement, firmly believe that “knowledge is power”, and the more you know and learn the better off you will be for it.

I possess many strengths and weaknesses with regard to my particular learning style. I tend to focus on my strengths while managing my weaknesses. The key to my success is that I have identified my strengths and pursued them with vigor. I believe that I am an achiever and have the willpower, perseverance, and desire to do well. I concentrate my efforts by assessing what I do well, and I do a lot of it. Practice makes perfect. Another strength I possess is listening to myself and acting on a hunch. I believe in receiving advice and input from others; however, no one knows my learning style better than I do, so I always try to listen to myself. I am also a very motivated individual who learns very quickly. I have learned to capitalize on my rapid learning skills by realizing that when I am good at something I should mold it into my everyday learning activities. My organizational skills and special attention to detail assists me in studying and learning more effectively. Finally, I always strive for excellence. My grandfather always told me “if you can’t do something right just don’t do it at all.” A sign of a good learner is someone who desires excellence and does what is necessary to achieve optimal results.

There are also many areas in my learning style that I can improve upon. Sometimes, if I do not feel that I am grasping something, I get frustrated, and tend to skip over that particular area. It may be that I try to capitalize and focus too much on what I do well that I give up on issues that do not come to me as easily. I also feel that my close attention to detail can lead to an obsessive type of learning style that can “muddy” the water at times. I begin to get minimal results despite my intense focus. There is also the issue of overconfidence. At times, I often think I have mastered a skill, and I get a little sloppy and lose focus. When learning new things, I consciously think through the steps of the process. However, I continuously, almost obsessively, think about the steps instead of mastering the skill quickly. I dwell on the smaller things instead of focusing on the bigger picture. Sometimes, learning drains all of my energy, thus making it more difficult for me to actively engage in additional learning right away. Finally, I feel that I need to become a little more of a mixture between an introvert and an extrovert. By being shy, I do not get to know other individual’s personalities, styles, habits, etc. Interacting on a more personal level with individuals will help my learning style, especially in group settings.

Formulating a strategy for improvement can be difficult, but must be done in order to achieve optimal learning results. Firstly, I will do most of my learning at my peak time, which is in the morning. Secondly, I will review the other learning styles more closely, and identify the aspects I can incorporate into my own personal style. Thirdly, I will avoid putting myself into situations where I am forced to do something I do not do well, which tends to stress and frustrate me. Fourthly, I will partner with someone that compliments my strengths. This way, we can combine our joint strengths and create a unique learning capability that could not be done with one person alone. Fifthly, I will make a conscious effort to interact more with my group members to ease my shyness. Finally, I am going to take a step back from all of the little nitpicky details that can consume me at times, take a deep breath, and look at the big picture. Also, I can possibly begin to think in pictures and draw my ideas for others, instead of talking about them.

In conclusion, I have discovered my particular learning style. I believe this is important in order to improve on areas that may inhibit my opportunities for growth. I will take it upon myself to learn the styles of other individuals as well. This will help me more effectively interact, while also increasing my learning potential because I can learn from other individuals. Knowledge truly is power, and the more I acquire, and the more I can learn from myself and other individuals, the better off I will be.

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Last UpdatedWednesday, May 15, 2013

Kinesthetic Learning: harder in college, later a gift

Kinesthetic Learners are the most active learners, and they’re remembering if they’re jumping up and down or playing sports.   —  Linda Johnson

Kinesthetic Learners may feel discouraged about their chances of success in high school and in college. In the lower grades, teachers used more hands-on methods and kinesthetic learners learned easily. But teachers in high school and college are less likely to focus on different learning styles. They lecture (good for auditory learners) and require students to read (good for verbal learners) but do very little for visual/spatial learners and, in most cases, even less for kinesthetic learners. If you are a kinesthetic learner, you will need to develop strategies that work for you.

Being a verbal learner does not mean that the person’s verbal intelligence is high. It simply means that they way he learns best is through reading.  Likewise, If you are a kinesthetic learner, it doesn’t imply that you will be an outstanding athlete or architect. It simply means that when you learn, you learn more easily through kinesthetic methods.You cold end up as a great writer, but that’s not your style of learning.

Learning Styles from birth throughout life

Babies learn from what they see (visual), what they hear (auditory, and what they feel (tactile). They also learn from from smell (olfactory) and taste (gustatory).  In other words, they learn through all their basic senses. The tactile sense is related to kinesthetic learning. The baby touches an object and feels if it is hard or soft, if it is smooth and rough, if it is smooth or rough, if it feels nice or it hurts.

The baby is the picture is feeling how hard and smooth her rattle is. She will soon chew on it to sense it in a different way. She also enjoys the other toy which is softer and fuzzy.

As babies get a little older, they begin using true kinesthetic skills. They play with simple toys that they can move . They manipulating toys, discovering what happens when they push each button or turn each knob. They learn through experimentation.

Preschool and Kindergarten teachers understand how children learn and provide a variety of materials for “hands-on” learning.  As soon as these children move on to elementary school, the focus turns to reading and listening. Now, different students will succeed. Hands-on teaching now is mainly restricted to math manipulatives, art, and sometimes science activities or the occasional project like creating a diorama.

In some middle schools where teachers have studied multiple intelligences, teachers may use a variety of teaching styles, but more and more, kinesthetic learning gets the least use because it is hard to understand how to do hands-on learning in literature or history.  In high school and college, kinesthetic learning is usually restricted to science (students doing experiments), art, home economics, shop, drama, physical education, etc.

This means that kinesthetic learners experience more success in these areas and see their future as being in some sort of hands-on job… using machines, repairing things that are broken, making things, or doing things. They might become mechanics, electricians, plumbers, cooks, and factory workers .This isn’t a bad thing. Training in all of these areas will focus less on reading and lectures, and more on practicing skills. Choosing a career where you can be successful and that will make you feel happy is a good choice.

But other students have different career goals  that require a college education and they will spend years of dealing with teaching that doesn’t mesh well with their learning styles.

Nine ways Kinesthetic Learners can survive in a non-kinesthetic world (college education)

1. Nearly everyone has one or several dominant learning styles and several other secondary learning styles. Kinesthetic learners can strengthen and use all of their secondary learning styles. The best learning actually takes place when you used multiple learning styles.

2. Kinesthetic learners may have difficulty focusing on an hour-long lecture. Some students focus better when taking notes (writing is a kind of hands-on learning.) Others find it helpful to doodle or draw images from the lecture. Be sure that you use doodling in order to focus on the lecture, not to take your mind off the lecture. You might use visual-spatial learning and create a concept map or other chart of the lecture.  Some find it helpful to take notes with multicolored pens or pencils. An alternate version of this involves making a copy of your notes after the lecture and marking it up with colored pens or pencils. You could also use color on a concept map.

3. Kinesthetic learners have found other helpful strategies to use while listening. Some chew gum (in a way that doesn’t bother other students). Some tap their foot. And several people report that using a stress ball (one that is hard to squeeze) helps them release pent-up energy and helps them focus on the lecture. You might also try tensing your muscles and relaxing them.

4. Kinesthetic learners also find it hard to concentrate while reading. There is no reason to read an entire chapter in one sitting. Preview the chapter and divide it into four or five or more shorter sections. You might be able to concentrate long enough to read a section. If not, divide sections into two or three smaller parts. It is a complete waste of time to keep reading if you have lost concentration.

5. The people who suggest the squeeze balls claim that these also help in reading. Others suggest getting exercise as you read. Are you able to read while on a treadmill or while lifting weights?

6. Some people suggest that you underline or highlight main ideas and important details while reading. You might try this to see if it really helps you learn the ideas. My experience is that most students underline or highlight to avoid thinking about the material. They end up with their book all marked up but haven’t learned anything.

7. Alternate reading and action. Read one or several paragraphs. You might take reading notes of the main ideas. Then take 5-10 minutes to walk, run, jump rope or whatever appeals to you. WHILE YOU WALK or whatever you are doing, go back over what you read. What were the main ideas? What information or definitions were important? Can you remember a new term and use it in a sentence? What questions do you have. What questions might your teacher ask on this material? And then you are ready to return to reading.  You will probably find that with some reading topics, you can go longer before an activity break. With complex material, you might need an activity break more often.

8. Some people recommend using flashcards to practice vocabulary words or facts. I’m not convinced that handling cards is really a hand-on experience. I do think, however, that if you can turn this into a game, you might find it successful. You might, for example, each time you get five or ten right answers in a row, give yourself a star on a chart. Then, after you accumulate ten stars, reward yourself.

9. Kinesthetic learners often learn by building a model or creating a chart of diagram. You might use the various visual processing strategies helpful. You might find it even more helpful if you use poster boards and create huge charts, concept maps or diagrams. Experiment and see if adding bright colors or little drawings make your chart more helpful.

What Kinesthetic Learners shouldn’t do

First, you should not tell yourself that just because you don’t learn the same ways other students learn that you aren’t as smart as they are. The truth is that in addition to being as smart as they are in learning in academic classes, you might be even smarter. You had to work much harder to get good grades in high school and to pass the SAT or whatever test you took.

In addition to your intelligence in the usual areas, you probably excel in some areas of kinesthetic and maybe other types of intelligence. While they might be able to read and listen with less effort, you can learn better in other areas. I had several kinesthetic learners in a physics class. While they understood the material and the labs, they had problems with the math and essay tests. I gave them extra credit for building and demonstrating devices related to the topic. I had to confess that I would have had difficulty doing what they were doing. Our intelligences and learning styles were very different. They appreciated the extra points and fair grades. I appreciate new equipment that I could use in future classes.

Secondly, you may think that because it is more difficult for you to learn like other students learn that this be will a handicap when you are looking for a job. Not true. You wouldn’t want an office job. You’d do well in a more technical hands-on area. But this doesn’t limit you to being a carpenter, electrician or auto mechanic.

You might do laboratory research – perhaps to find a cure for cancer.

You might learn enough about computers to create new software or computer games or even to work on the next levels of technology.

The man in the picture is helping to develop a new ultra-sound device that will be used in hospitals. He is a kinesthetic learner who found it fairly easy to learn the skills he needed for this kind of work.

You might become an athlete or coach. You might become a dancer or musician, an actor or director.

You might even become a doctor. Medical school would be difficult but you might make an excellent surgeon. This requires hands-on skills.

Those of us who find reading and listening to be our stronger skills would find ourselves at a disadvantage in many of those areas. We might envy your talents. You could then be very grateful that you are a kinesthetic learner. It is a gift you can use.

If you haven’t read this already, you might also read Kinesthetic Memory