A Student's Brief Overview of the Kinesthetic/Tactile Learning Style
An overview of kinesthetic/tactile learners, who prefer to take in information through movement, manipulation, and touch, easily learning dance steps and athletic maneuvers.
by Katharine Hansen, Ph.D.
Kinesthetic/tactile learners prefer to take in information through movement, manipulation, and touch. They tend to be able to operate equipment without reading instructions. They can easily learn dance steps and athletic maneuvers. About 5 percent of learners are kinesthetic/tactile.
Kinesthetic/tactile learners should try to identify classes that involve role-plays, simulations, and major projects outside class. Look for classes with hands-on activities and demonstrations (in which you get to do some of the demos). You will likely succeed in science classes that have a lab component, as well as dance, theater, and physical-education classes. You'll probably enjoy studio-art classes. You will also do well in any type of experiential learning, including internships. Try a class in American Sign Language.
- Since your natural inclination is to move around or even fidget in class, find ways to move that are not disruptive to the class, such as by doodling as you take notes or chewing gum.
- Avoid movements, such as pencil-tapping, foot-tapping, or jingling coins and keys in your pocket, that are your natural inclination but may distract classmates and your teacher.
- Try some relaxation before classes to help control your fidgetiness.
- Simply taking notes is a good way to keep moving in class.
- If a teacher asks for a volunteer to demonstrate something in front of the class, you're the ideal candidate.
- Move around while studying. Walk, run, or work out with recorded notes playing on an mp3 player.
- When not moving, study in a very relaxed position, such as lying down. You won't be comfortable sitting at a desk.
- Active reading strategies, such as highlighting and making flash cards will work well for you, with the actual physical activity involved being one of the most helpful aspects. The same goes for rewriting and typing your notes.
- Write study material on large surfaces, such as easel pads and whiteboards, in large letters. Again, the physical act of writing the material appeals to your learning style.
- Identify with historical and literary characters in your reading assignments. Immerse yourself in those characters and become involved in the readings by being the characters.
- Put yourself in the role of your instructor and imagine how you'd teach the material, what questions you'd ask, and what you'd include on exams.
- Manipulate magnetic poetry words to get ideas for writing assignments.
- Draw or create three-dimensional models to illustrate concepts to be studied.
- Use sticky-notes to take notes while reading.
- Study in short segments, taking frequent breaks.
- Keep your hands busy by playing with, for example, a squishy ball, while studying. Another way to say active while sitting still is by chewing gum (sugarless is a good idea).
- Practice new skills you've learned.
- Seek opportunities to experience real-life examples of topics you're studying about, such as in museums and historical sites.
Discover more about learning styles in our article, What's Your Learning Style -- and How Can You Make the Most of It?
Questions about some of the terminology used in this article? Get more information (definitions and links) on key academic terms by going to our College Success Glossary.
Katharine Hansen, Ph.D., is an educator, author, and blogger who provides content for EmpoweringSites.com, including MyCollegeSuccessStory.com. Katharine, who earned her PhD in organizational behavior from Union Institute & University, Cincinnati, OH, is author of Dynamic Cover Letters for New Graduates and A Foot in the Door: Networking Your Way into the Hidden Job Market (both published by Ten Speed Press), as well as Top Notch Executive Resumes (Career Press); and with Randall S. Hansen, Ph.D., Dynamic Cover Letters, Write Your Way to a Higher GPA (Ten Speed), and The Complete Idiot's Guide to Study Skills (Alpha). She curates, crafts, and delivers compelling content online, in print, on stage, and in the classroom. Visit her personal Website KatharineHansenPhD.com or reach her by e-mail at kathy(at)astoriedcareer.com. Check out Dr. Hansen on GooglePlus.