It never hurts to have a variety of learning styles in your career development toolkit
Your ability to learn new information and skills will be the single most important factor in determining whether you can achieve your career goals. No matter how well you do in school, or which skills you develop, you will need to continue to learn new information if you want to advance in your chosen career. But what can you do when you find yourself struggling to pay attention during lectures, seminars, or other training at work? Well, we have just the answer you need to supercharge your ongoing education.
In this post, we'll examine the benefits of kinesthetic learning and examine how it could be the tool you need to reorient or supplement your existing learning style. We'll also offer some helpful tips that you can use to start applying these learning techniques to advance your career.
What is kinesthetic learning style?
It is important to understand your personal learning style if you want to develop learning habits that can last a lifetime. Fortunately, there are several different ways that people experience and process new information. Some people are visual learners. Others need to hear information. There are even people who learn best through social interaction or strict logical associations.
Kinesthetic learners do best when they have the opportunity to take a more hands-on approach. These tactile learners process new information easier when they can physically perform the tasks they need to learn. Through repetition of tasks over time, they develop and refine the skills they need to get any job done. More importantly, their minds draw connections between their physical actions and the tasks they're assigned to complete.
Chances are that you have used this style of learning at one time or another in the past. For example, typing skills are not something that you can learn by listening to a lecture or hearing instructions. Instead, the development of those keyboard abilities requires hours of physical repetition that develops muscle memory and a mental connection to the process of typing.
It's also important to recognize that most people learn different things in different ways. While you might be primarily geared toward visual or auditory learning, there will also be times when a kinesthetic approach to learning can be the most effective way to process and apply new knowledge.
How can kinesthetic learning benefit you?
If you're someone who always needs to be hands-on to retain information, then the benefits of this type of learning style are obvious. However, if you've traditionally relied on visual or auditory clues to learn new information, then you might not see the immediate value that kinesthetic learning can provide. Rest assured, there are many benefits that you can enjoy when you use this style of learning in your career:
Enhanced muscle memory
Because kinesthetic learning relies on repetitive physical activity, your ability to develop muscle memory will improve by leaps and bounds. As it does, your overall ability to process and retain new information will increase over time. Many kinesthetic learners eventually find that they prefer that hands-on approach and use it every chance they get.
Increased engagement in your work
There's a reason that most science classes include hands-on experimentation as part of the educational process. That tactile interaction with ideas and tasks creates stronger engagement with the subject matter, motivates students to focus more on the concepts they are applying, and creates a more memorable experience. When you use these techniques at work, you will likely enjoy similar benefits.
Stronger retention of information
Learning by doing can be one of the best ways to absorb many different types of information. While most people may need to hear or see a particular type of training three or more times to truly retain the information, the process of physically engaging in that training task can enable retention to occur much faster.
Whenever you learn new information or skills, it's important to develop confidence in your capabilities if you want to succeed. This type of hands-on learning can be a great way to not only learn tasks and skills, but to build that self-confidence as you do so. Most importantly, tactile learning is something that you can do at a pace that's comfortable for you.
If your workplace is suitable for using kinesthetic learning in a group dynamic, then you'll also find that this style of learning can facilitate improvements in teamwork too. By working with others in a hands-on way, your team can develop a greater appreciation of each member's working habits and capabilities.
The development of stronger problem-solving skills
Kinesthetic learning requires you to use critical thinking skills as you work through each part of a given task. As a result, you can strengthen those thinking skills and improve your ability to solve problems. When you practice these techniques consistently, your thought processes will become more oriented toward gathering and applying information on your own.
Tips for applying kinesthetic learning principles in your workplace
Of course, you'll also need to know how to apply these learning techniques and principles if you want to receive any of their benefits. It's important to recognize that many workplaces may not be set up to accommodate this type of tactile engagement process. In many companies, training and new information may be delivered via presentation or information-filled memorandums, with little opportunity for hands-on interaction.
That doesn't mean, however, that you cannot still benefit from a kinesthetic approach to learning. Even if you can't always engage in hands-on learning, you can still try to incorporate physical activity into your work and learning processes. For example:
Try to do more of your work standing up
Ask your company if you can have a standing desk that allows you to remain more physically active while you do your work. If that's not possible, then make an effort to get on your feet more throughout the day. Whenever you have a meeting at your workstation or in your office, make a point of getting out of your chair during the conversation. You can also stand up and even walk around as you're on the phone, to ensure that you get the physical activity that you need for improved focus and memory.
Use physical props and tools to assist with information retention
You don't always need to be actively engaged in a task to use physical motion to aid memory retention. You can also take notes as people are speaking, create graphs and charts that help you to visualize data that you receive, or even craft flashcards with information that you need to learn. In addition, whiteboards, flowcharts, and other visual tools can be great for sparking your creative thinking and problem-solving skills.
Add exercise and other physical movements into your workday
Whatever you do, make sure that you avoid settling into a sedentary work style. If you have a preferred exercise regimen, work it into your schedule before or after your work hours or during your break. Try to schedule meetings outside of your office, so that you have an excuse to walk throughout the day. In short, incorporate as much physical movement into your schedule as you possibly can.
Remember to practice new tasks
Make sure that you set aside time to practice any new tasks that get added to your workload. The same principle applies to new information that you need to learn. Don't just read something and assume that you'll absorb every relevant detail. Instead, review and practice everything until you're confident that you can apply that new information in productive ways.
Volunteer for demonstrations
Take every opportunity to participate in any training demonstrations. That will help to ensure that you get the hands-on experience you need, while simultaneously raising your profile within the organization. Hey, you may as well maximize the benefits every chance you get!
Develop kinesthetic habits that can help to increase your focus
Even small physical movements can provide the focus-enhancing benefits you need. Try to develop at least one regular physical habit that you can engage in whenever you need to focus on retaining information. For example, you could get in the habit of squeezing a stress ball or bouncing a tennis ball on the floor as you take in new information.
Actively take notes
One great habit that you can work to develop is a holdover from your days in school - the once dreaded ritual of taking notes. Note taking can be a fantastic way to use kinesthetic learning techniques, as the act of using your hands to record information while you're hearing it can provide that tactile interaction that a kinesthetic learner needs for maximum focus and retention.
Focus on immersion
One of the main reasons why a kinesthetic approach to learning can be so beneficial is that the very act of hands-on learning is an immersive experience. Whenever you need to learn something new at work, make sure that you find a way to completely immerse yourself in the information acquisition process. Put your whole body and mind into the learning effort, to ensure that you have the best chance of retaining the information you need.
Learn to identify the learning style that works best in each situation
Finally, it's vital to understand that there is no single correct way of learning anything. More importantly, most people do not rely on a singular approach to learning, but instead use different learning methods for different scenarios. For example, if you wanted to learn to play the guitar, you would benefit from seeing the written notes and chords, hearing the tones that you play, and the tactile sensation of your fingers on the strings.
In a similar manner, there will be times when the visual approach to learning new things at work will be all that you need to succeed. In other instances, hearing that information will be sufficient. Adding kinesthetic techniques to your learning repertoire will ensure that you're always prepared with the tools you need to retain and use new information and skills.
As you move forward along your career path, there will be a host of learning opportunities that you'll need to take advantage of to reach your goals. Incorporating kinesthetic learning into your educational process can help to provide you with one more effective way to make sure that you develop the skills you need to achieve greater career success.
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