Kinesthesis and Physically Active Learning

Kinesthesis during baseball

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Kinesthesis also referred to as kinesthesia, is the perception of body movements. It involves being able to detect changes in body position and movements without relying on information from the five senses. You are using your kinesthetic sense whenever you are involved in a physical activity such as walking, running, driving, dancing, swimming, and anything that requires body movement.

What Does Kinesthesis Do?

Through your sense of kinesthesis, you can tell where different parts of your body are located even if your eyes are closed or you are standing in a dark room. For example, when you are riding a bicycle, receptors in your arms and legs send information to the brain about the position and movement of your limbs.

When you think of the five major senses (vision, smell, touch, taste, and hearing), you might note that these all tend to focus on perceiving stimuli outside of the self. Kinesthesis is one type of sense that is focused on the body's internal events. Rather than using this sense to detect stimuli outside of the self, your sense of kinesthesis allows you to know where your body is positioned and to detect changes in body position. When you need to perform a complex physical action, your sense of kinesthesis allows you to know where your body is and how much further it needs to go.

Kinesthesis and Learning Styles

Kinesthesis relates to one of the three major learning styles in Fleming VAK model. According to the theories of learning styles, people learn best if the instruction is offered according to their learning preferences.

An individual with a kinesthetic learning style would learn best by doing, or actually performing an action.

Imagine, for example, that you are trying to learn how to hit a baseball with a bat. If you have a kinesthetic learning style, you might learn best by actually performing the action. Instead of just reading about how to hit a ball or watching other people perform this action, you need to actually get a bat in your hands and practice swinging the bat at a ball.

Kinesthetic learners are thought to enjoy being physically active, tend to excel at sports and often have fast reaction times. The VAK/VARK model of learning suggests that people with this learning style may prefer lessons that involve movement such as performing an experiment, working with a group or performing a skit.

While the concept of learning styles is enormously popular, particularly in the field of education, most research has found that there is little evidence supporting the idea that instructing students according to their preferred learning style has any difference on educational outcomes. However, if you are a person who prefers learning by doing, as kinesthetic learners often do, you can perhaps take advantage of this knowledge when you are trying to learn something new. Rather than bore yourself with reading instruction manuals or listening to lectures, look for ways that you can gain hands-on experience.

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