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10 Best Study Tips for Hands-On Learners

These are the best study tips for hands-on learners that you'll find.


Everyone has their own, distinct style. This is as true about personal fashion sense as it is about our approaches to socialization, and it is definitely something that applies to learning. Human beings are not always able to learn in every way provided, and experts point out that there are auditory learners, visual learners, and tactile learners. If your learning style is tactile, this guide to study tips for hands-on learners will increase your learning and study strategies inventory while also being of tremendous benefit to you.

What is a tactile learner?

Do you dread sitting in a classroom or even settling down on the sofa to watch or listen to a lecture? Does any listing of facts, figures, statistics, or information turn into a blur in your mind? If so, it means you are one of the world's many kinesthetic learners. As one expert explained, "[that] type of learning style comprehends information best through hands-on studying and doing things."

So, sitting through two hours of lecturing about law or watching a PowerPoint on specific modalities in therapy will not do much for you. Yet, you may find yourself in just such a situation, and these study tips for hands-on learners is here to help.

Start in the classroom.

One of the best study tips we can provide for you to use during lecture periods or when stuck sitting still for long periods of time is to structure your notes. Again, as that kinesthetic learning expert said, "Building a structure for your notes will help your mind comprehend the information and recognize patterns easily."

Just what does that mean? Try using color-coded note cards in order to create highly visual flow charts. Just transferring class notes to these cards can start to help you organize and retain information, and the act of writing (or re-writing) notes is also good for memorization. When you look for patterns in information, that too boosts your ability to retain what you have learned in a more functional manner.

Never go all or nothing.

Another one of the important study tips for hands-on learners is to simply accept that hours of sitting still really does not work for you. Because of that, build study breaks into your study strategies. As an example, just turn the timer on in your phone, and every 30-40 minutes give yourself 5-15 minutes to move around, get your circulation going, or just clear your head. Taking breaks is a consistently strong recommendation for how to effectively study, and can make a huge difference in the potency of your study sessions.

Don't sit still.

Image courtesy NeonBrand via Unsplash

It is entirely acceptable to multi-task and use some sort of activity as you study. Again, that expert explained that, "Kinesthetic learners tend to retain information best when they are doing activities." If you can tape lectures or lessons and then listen to them as you walk, jog, run, or cycle, it can improve your grades, retention, and performance. Additionally, doing this at the gym can be a good approach, as repetitive movement is also great for helping you memorize information; and it doesn't have to be audible learning at such times, since you can easily use flashcards or even a tablet with notes while on a cycle or elliptical!

Keep your hands moving.

Another effective study tip for hands-on learners is to keep their hands or fingers moving while they study. This can mean writing out the items or information being reviewed, or even typing their notes to reinforce every bit of information through the movement of the fingers and the sense of touch against the keyboard. There's a reason the fidget spinner was invented!

Chew gum.

Oddly enough, a seemingly unusual, innovative study tip for hands-on learners is to try chewing gum during their study or learning activities. This slight action is a distraction from the desire to move about, and the repetition of the movement of the jaw can also help in the same way that movement of the hands or limbs supports learning, too.

Don't sit in silence.

Though many people advise kinesthetic learners to get away from distractions and work in silence, that might be opposite of what they need. Another of the strongest study tips for hands-on learners is to use mnemonic devices, such as listening to music while studying. If you can create a connection (either by word or image) to the music, it can actually dramatically boost recall during testing, or just in practical application of the information. This is a popular student hack every college student should know.

Get help from friends and family.

Don't forget the value of a friend or family member when attempting to master information. For example, we mentioned flashcards briefly and should return to them again. Visuals like flashcards (whether printed, on a computer screen, or a mobile device) are excellent for the hands-on learners. It is best if you take the time to create the cards yourself and write out the information. Then, make sure that you do not use an automatic system with the cards, but have a friend or family flip the card for you. Or, if you don't have anyone around, require yourself to actually cue each card to be flipped (whether by tapping a screen, clicking a mouse, or flipping a real card yourself).

Get your other senses involved.

Image courtesy Lonely Planet via Unsplash


We also suggest that anyone in need of study tips for hands-on learners consider the more creative options. For instance, as you use the tips above, try to find a way to use an olfactory cue (smell). Why? Studies have repeatedly shown that students test better when they study while a specific scent is generated, and then generated again as they take an exam on the material. Chew a strong cinnamon gum, wear a specific perfume or cologne, or use a scented marker while working and then rely on those scents to help you when being tested or when using that information.

Stand up.

Stand rather than sit at your study area as this improves health and gets your body engaged. You may want to consider a standing desk or workstation to help you study.

Get creative.

Finally, consider rendering lessons as artwork or visual displays. The act of mapping out or actual sketching lessons is one of the lesser known, but equally effective, study tips for hands-on learners that yields impressive outcomes.

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