Remember with Senses

One boy and two girls in class.Use all your Senses to Learn and Remember

  • Some of us remember what we’ve seen, especially if it was shocking or important to us
  • Others remember what they have heard, a strange voice, a scream, someone crying.
  • Still others remember what they have done. Once they have put a model together, they can do it again easily.

The three students in the picture learn in different ways. Lauren is a visual learner, Maggie, sitting in back is an auditory learner. Brian is a kinesthetic learner. When they study together they share their ways of remembering information and this helps all three of them.

Which way do you remember best? What you See, What you Hear, or What you Do?  They are generally called VISUAL, AUDITORY and KINESTHETIC Memory.

Uses your Senses in a Lecture

All three kind of learners will listen to what the teacher says, try to understand it and remember it.

Visual Learners will concentrate most on watching the teacher. They notice the teachers facial expression and gestures. From these, they gets a sense of what the teacher considers most important. They take notes and later organize them into an outline or a concept map, both visual.  These students are happiest when the teacher uses visuals such as pictures, large charts, graphs or even does a demonstration.

Auditory Learners could remember nearly as much with their eyes shut. The concentrate on listening. They notice when the teacher’s voice is louder or softer, when the teacher speeds up and slows down, and they never miss that special tone of voice that means, “Listen carefully. This is very important.” They find it hard to concentrate when a teacher speaks in a monotone, with little or no expression. They feel themselves getting most excited when the teacher sounds excited.

Kinesthetic Learners have a hard time in lectures. They, like the visual learners, notice the teacher’s gestures. They pay better attention when the teacher uses behavior that indicate the information is important. They might step closer to the students. They might bang on the desk. They might hold their hands up in a certain way.

Use your memory as you read

Reading does not make learning any easier for any of these learners. Some people get the idea that reading is associated with visual learning. This isn’t true unless the book is filled with pictures, charts, and diagrams.

Visual Learners spend more time on pictures, charts, diagrams and graphs. As they read they might try to VISUALIZE the information. When they finish reading, they are likely to use an outline or concept map or some of the visual ways of organizing information. When they read a novel, they are often most aware of te description of a scene and have clear mental images of each character. To remember information on a test, they might try to picture those visuals mentally.

Auditory Learners might read the book out loud. In a novel, they might imagine hearing voices of the characters. They can read a few sentences and know which character is speaking because they are most sensitive to such differences. They might imagine listening to a poem being read. In a test they might hear the voices of the teacher or of the characters.

Kinesthetic Learners need to work hard to understand a book. They might begin, when reading about a battle, taking toy soldiers and setting them up to match the scene in the book. Now the Kinesthetic Learner can begin to understand what is happening. Eventually, they learn to imagine the little soldiers or doll house figures moving from place to place and understand what is going on.

Study and Remember with your Senses

Visual Learners can create their own visuals for each chapter. They might be small and simple. They might be large, detailed and colorful with added pictures.  In order to study and remember this material, they should take a blank sheet of paper and re-create the visuals. This works well or most students but is especially important for Visual Learners. On a test, they might simply picture these visuals in their mind or draw a simple version of the visual in the margin.

Auditory Learners can take their list of main ideas and record themselves summarizing the information or reading words and definitions. They could then listen to this while exercising or doing the laundry or whatever. You might also write a good summary of the information and then every few days try to explain the information out loud. Check the written summary to see if you got anything wrong. Another excellent method is to find a place where nobody will see or hear you and pretend you are the teacher giving the lecture. It might be a 15 minute lecture rather than a one-hour lecture. Speak loudly, make it clear to your imaginary listeners which information is most important. Imagine these listeners asking questions. Then answer those questions. When you take a test, you might seem to hear your own voice.

Kinesthetic Learners can take some material and act it out. If you are studying the geological time periods you could actually create a large chart going from the floor to the ceiling. Write the name of the period and add drawing or cut out pictures of the important fossils for each layer. If you have a good imagination, you could imagine the chart or a huge cliff and do the same thing. If you are studying biology, make cell models from paper, from little things about the room (paper clips for mitochondria) or even from food. It’s fun and makes it easier to remember. If you are studying history, you might create a giant timeline, maybe down a sidewalk with each crack representing a century. Then using your notes, walk through the timeline telling yourself what happened at the various points along the timeline. You could of course, using a simple sheet of paper and using your pen or finger to imagine walking down the timeline.

Learn vocabulary with your senses

There are many suggestions under the page on rote memory and mnemonics that will be useful. Here, I will use only one example. When my son was in high school, we worked together to think of crazy but interesting ways to remember some of the words. One week, his vocabulary list included the word, “Stentorian.” Neither of us had ever heard the word. (Strange that after we learned the meaning, we heard the word every month or two.) We began by using our auditory sense. What did it sound like. We decided that Sten sounded vaguely like Stand. Tori sounded like a Tory (British Soldier). And then the last syllable sounded like an Inn. Putting them together we had a “Standing Tory in the Inn. The meaning of Stentorian is “speaking in a loud voice.” So our Tory was standing and speaking in a loud voice trying to explain why the people in the Inn should fight against the revolution. Using your visual sense, you could picture this little man standing on a table and speaking loudly. And for the kinesthetic learner? Such fun. He can stand on a table or chair and speak loudly. “I am a Tory, standing here in the Inn.” Stentorian – speaking in a LOUD VOICE.”

Use all of your senses.

Even if you are have one strong sense, try to use all of your senses. This will store the information in different parts of your brain. You will remember it more completely and you will remember it longer.


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