BY: Ed Leighton, MRED Help Desk Analyst
People at the gym are a little baffled by my ability to hold a book and read it while working out on the elliptical machine. How is it that I can maintain a steady enough hand to read while bouncing to the rhythmic pace of the machine? And, since they are available, why not use audio books instead?
Part of the answer has to do with what I read. I don’t just read for distraction, I read to learn. Mostly I read history, but will occasionally slip in a user manual or two to brush up on products I support as a member of the Help Desk team at MRED. The other part of the answer has to do with my preferred learning style being visual. Just as my visual learning style baffles auditory learners, the reverse is true for me of them. How can they possibly absorb the material by listening to it? In my experience most of what I hear goes right out the other ear. Not always, exclusively, but if comprehension is important I know better than to rely on auditory learning alone.
After reading a manual I usually get online and begin to reinforce what I read by engaging in kinesthetic learning: hands on. I have deduced that the thousands of Help Desk calls I do not receive are from kinesthetic/tactile learners. Their preferred method of learning is doing. They don’t want to be shown what to do, or “waste time” reading about it, or be told what to do, they insist on doing it!
Following is a brief explanation of the three commonly recognized main learning styles obtained from Regis University’s web site:
- Visual = Visual learners learn through seeing. With their primary perceptual preference being visual, they can typically recall what they have read or observed. They prefer to look at illustrations, or watch others doing something, rather than listening only.
- Auditory = Auditory learners prefer to listen. They are usually able to memorize what they hear and tend to be very attentive when information is presented in this way. They search for meaning and interpretation in lectures or speeches by listening to tone of voice, pitch, speech, and other special signals. These learners need to be told what to do rather than having them read directions. (Brookhaven, 2011)
- Kinesthetic/Tactile = Kinesthetic learners need to write things down. They like to incorporate their fine motor skills. They are the learners that like to take notes as they listen, and keep their hands busy. Kinesthetic learners need to use their bodies in the learning process. They need to do, not just watch or listen, to gain understanding.
In recognition of these learning styles MRED has developed a variety of learning tools to meet each of these preferred learning styles: Hands on classes, Webinars, Videos and User Manuals. We assume the kinesthetic learners have not read this far, so if you meet them, tell them about this article.