Kinesthetic learners seek to apply what they learn. They may not excel at note taking or sitting through long lectures, but they’re great at connecting any concept to the real world.
Experiments and projects are their forte. Unlike the meaningless memorization of facts, these strategies are much closer to real career work, something they may have a deep desire to participate in (even if they aren’t quite ready for it yet).
If you think that you or someone you know is a kinesthetic learner, follow the steps below to boost your/their study skills.
Telltale signs of a kinesthetic learner
- Loves to relate things to the real world
- Constantly asks “So what?” and wonders: what’s the bigger picture?
- Enjoys lab experiments, field trips, and creating things
- May have difficulty sitting through long lectures
- Tends to remember specific examples and experiences
Kinesthetic learners excel in understanding concepts. Because concepts naturally apply to many things, it is very easy to find examples of them. Kinesthetic learners may also find ease in solving application problems.
While concepts seem to just make sense, definitions may not. Unfortunately, there are times when we have to memorize seemingly random facts. Vocabulary is one example of this.
Make funny stories, draw pictures, or write sentences/problems. Unlike a simple definition, these examples will help you remember facts much faster.
Let’s say you have to remember the word gargantuan
You could just write gargantuan on one side of the card and really big on the other.
But if you wanted to kick it up a notch…
Write a sentence: the giant had gargantuan hands
Draw a picture: of a giant with huge hands
Write a memorable story: There was once a giant with huge hands.*
*you may want to be a touch more creative than I was with these examples.
Study Techniques for Kinesthetic Learners
Take special note of examples: When the teacher provides examples, clearly note them down–along with specific details. The majority of a kinesthetic learner’s notes should be connections or practice problems.
What if you can’t? Some teachers don’t provide examples or they are simply not available. This may be the case for definitions of equations or vocabulary terms.
If this is the case, you’ll have to think of connections yourself. If you can’t think of any on the spot, try searching online for specific examples and fill in the gaps later.
Every concept gets an example: Provide an example for any ideas that are unclear.
If you’re learning about appositive phrases in English, look up examples (ie. The kings of the grammatical world, appositive phrases are simply wondrous.) and practice writing appositive phrases.
Practice problems: Rather than re-reading notes, do practice problems. You can use your textbook, ask your teacher, search online, or make your own.
Take practice tests (or, better yet, make your own!) If you can get your teacher to share an old test with you…great! However, if they aren’t willing, you’ll have to improvise. Test your knowledge by making quizzes/tests/study guides to study from. If you can write a test about a concept, you understand that concept.
And when you’re taking a practice test, simulate the testing environment. Give yourself a time limit and don’t use notes. Then correct your mistakes after you finish.
Watch other people: There are a ton of great videos online of people teaching concepts (Khan Academy is a great example). Watching others work through problems may be just as effective as working through them on your own.
For further learning
Visit places: Find museums or businesses that are related to a subject you’re interested in, they’re filled with examples and applications.
Talk to people: Find friends, family, or other connections who work in a field that interests you. Take them out to coffee and pick their brain.
Apply for an internship: Pretty much the ultimate application, internships are perfect for kinesthetic learners. You’ll have a little learning to do at first, but then you just do.
It’s important to remember that most people are a mix of different learning styles. Not everything mentioned above will be true of or work for all kinesthetic learners. Experiment and find what works for you.
Questions? Comments? Advice?
Do you have any advice for kinesthetic learners or questions about this article? Want me to provide further examples? Please let me know in the comments below!
Fleming, N.D. & Mills, C. “Not Another Inventory, Rather a Catalyst for Reflection.” To Improve the Academy, vol. 11, 1992, pp. 137-155.
Kumar LR, Voralu K, Pani SP, Sethuraman KR. “Predominant learning styles adopted by AIMST University students in Malaysia.” South East Asian Journal of Medical Education, vol. 3, no.1, 2009, pp. 37-46.