When it comes to getting an education, we all have different ways of learning, or learning styles. Determining your personal learning style involves examining the physical and cognitive methods you use to process, retain and relay new information. Most education experts group learning styles into three types: visual learners, auditory learners and tactile learners.

For example, visual learners learn best when they can see the material being taught and have it mapped out or outlined using visual guides, such as a PowerPoint presentation. Similarly, auditory learners get the most benefit from hearing new material being discussed and explained, as with lectures. Tactile learners understand best when they can experience new material through hands-on labs and demonstrations. Frequently, your own learning style will combine elements from more than one of these types, but in most cases, one of them will be dominant.

Knowing your learning style can be extremely valuable for enhancing your home study experience. Research has shown students who know their own learning styles and use that knowledge to facilitate their studies often earn higher grades. By understanding the ways in which you learn best, you can not only choose home study courses that best fit your learning style, but you can also tailor your study habits to suit your learning styles, thereby capitalizing on your strengths and minimizing your weaknesses.

This is the final article in a three-part series discussing the various types of learning styles and offering tips for customize your study methods to fit with each particular style. In this article, we’ll look at tactile learners.

Learning Type: Tactile Learners

Tactile learners, sometimes called kinesthetic learners, respond best to material they can experience for themselves through hands-on activities. They gain much of their knowledge through the sense of touch and feeling. Tactile learners benefit from hand-on experiments, labs, field trips, physical interaction and live demonstrations. A tactile learner generally does well in science classes with lab components, excels at subjects requiring mechanical skills, likes to build models and enjoys classes in drama and dance.

If you’re a tactile learner, try to incorporate the following study habits to facilitate the learning process:

  • Schedule studying sessions in short blocks of time, with frequent breaks in between.
  • Incorporate physical activity, such as role-playing, into your studies.
  • Choose courses with plenty of hands-on work and labs.
  • Use active memory games to enhance memorization and comprehension.
  • Visit places, such as a local massage studio, where you can see a subject you’re learning being demonstrated firsthand.
  • Frequently practice the massage skills you’re learning on friends, family and colleagues.
  • Take classes that feature hands-on exams in addition to written tests.
  • Use objects, such as flashcards or visual props, to aid in studying.
  • Record lectures on tape and play them back while you’re exercising.
  • When reading, write down important passages and concepts in your own words.
  • Organize all of your notes and study materials to create a detailed, homemade study guide when preparing for an exam.

Chris Towery is the former associate editor of MASSAGE Magazine and is currently a full-time freelance journalist. He has written hundreds of articles for more than 20 different magazines, newspapers and custom publishers. Much of his recent writing has been for the complementary and alternative health-care industry. To contact Towery, e-mail cmreuben@yahoo.com.