The Tactile-Kinesthetic Learner

A small minority of students, about 5 percent, are classified as tactile-kinesthetic. However, "[r]esearch has shown that 75% of students who drop out are tactile-kinesthetic learners". In general, these learners prefer a hands-on approach. Some researchers use the terms separately, tactile referring to fine-motor skills and kinesthetic referring to gross-motor skills, but we will not use that distinction here.

Because tactile-kinesthetics favor a 'hands-on' approach, they enjoy physical activities and building things. These learners benefit from situations that provide objects and variables that can be manipulated as they can easily obtain data from their surroundings. They are the people who typically skip reading the directions and just try and figure out what to do as they go.

Tactile-kinesthetics often have short attention spans so it is helpful to "avoid study marathons; instead, study for multiple short periods with breaks in between". Also, frequently pacing around the room helps them to learn because they need the movement. Tactile-kinesthetic learners "need to be doing as they learn. They need physical interaction and therefore benefit from lab activities, experiments, and role-playing. Videos and multimedia would assist [them as well]".

These kinds of activities are far removed from what is typically done in a classroom where students typically are in rows of desks seeing and hearing the teacher, a strategy that works for 95% of students, but not the 5% that are tactile-kinesthetics and it is often speculated, the most disruptive in a classroom.

Works Cited

Envision the Difference (ITTE 2003 Paper)

©2003 Adam M. Wittenstein 1   2 Page Created: 4/26/03