Writing to Learn Part II

Welcome to part two of Writing to Learn, in which I propose that our writing can be more powerful when we as authors approach the task as students, with curiosity.

One way to do this is to understand our own writing styles.

Obviously, the task is easiest for those of us who are read / write learners, although it has recently been pointed out to me that even those who have a gift for language might need some advice about how to approach their topic with the curiosity befitting a student. So I’ve decided to make this a three-part series that will continue on Monday.

The Writing CycleIn our last post, I gave a few suggestions for visual learners as to how they could tackle each stage of the writing process in a way that harmonizes with their own learning style. In this post, I’d like to do the same for aural and kinesthetic learners.

As I mentioned, I myself am a multi-modal learner, a fact I did not discover until late in my graduate school career, so these are strategies that I have personally used (sometimes out of desperation) and found effective.

During the brainstorming phases, it’s helpful for aural and kinesthetic learners to work with a partner or in teams. Brainstorming strategy sessions can be conducted in conference rooms with whiteboards or large easels so that a kinesthetic learner can capture an idea and play with it during the conversation.

For those of us visual and read / write learners who have attended such strategy sessions and then been frustrated at the lack of follow up, let me say that it is key that the session be recorded and transcribed so that the language of the session be available during the writing stage. This is one reason that aural and kinesthetic learners leave the brainstorming session and enter the writing phase frustrated. They know that they have generated worthy ideas, but they don’t have the language available to them.

For read / write or visual learners this isn’t a problem because during the brainstorming phase, they tend by nature to put the language on the page. Aural and kinesthetic learners on the other hand, tend to speak or move their thoughts and neglect to capture them.

It’s vital to capture that the aural and kinesthetic learners be given the opportunity to brainstorm in a way that is most effective for them. But because the writing process does end in a written document, it is also key that they capture their language so that when the writing begins, they can have the words and phrases they generated available to work with.

A kinesthetic learner benefits from improved circulation, so standing, walking, and moving during the writing process actually help this writer to become more articulate. There are programs such as Writer’s Blocks that will mimic the process some of us learned during school of putting our ideas on note cards and arranging them around our desk, but for a kinesthetic learner, it may actually be more beneficial to physically move into a conference room and conduct this exercise in a literal fashion.

An aural learner can benefit from a writing partner or a colleague with whom she can discuss the argument until it falls into place. Lacking such a resource, she needs to become comfortable with talking to herself, whether she does so by closing her office door, going for a run, or driving a long distance. I have found that the advent of Bluetooth technology makes it less likely that people will believe I have lost my marbles. But I must admit, I have rarely cared one way or the other so long as my document reads cleanly.

As I alluded to earlier, perhaps the most difficult part of the writing cycle for the aural or kinesthetic learner is the writing itself, because the finished product is a written document, and we cannot escape the fact that at some point, an aural or kinesthetic learner will have to capture the written word and wrestle it to down to the page. For these reasons, recording and transcription during the brainstorming and arranging phases are of tremendous benefit so that the aural and the kinesthetic writers have words and phrases at their disposal during the writing process.

An aural learner who is trying to write with pen and paper or by typing is probably wasting time and neglecting her own eloquence. A simple investment in a voice recorder and transcription software that would allow her to control the speed of the playback can give the aural learner the opportunity to control her draft and work in a medium that is natural to her and thereby more pleasing to the reader. As I said, the kinesthetic learner requires circulation and movement to be articulate, so dictation is also a solution for him.

Aural and kinesthetic learners need to treat the revision process very much like the brainstorming process. We all need to give ourselves time between the writing of the first draft and revision so that we can see the document with fresh eyes. An aural learner needs a vehicle whereby she can talk out the revision anywhere the logic of the argument does not cohere. A kinesthetic learner requires the ability to break the argument into its component pieces and lay them out so that he can see how they can be rearranged to make better sense of them.

Reading a Reference WorkDuring the editing phase, it’s vital that the aural learner proofread her work out loud, while the kinesthetic learner should eschew online versions of grammar handbooks and style guides in favor of their printed counterparts. The act of flipping through, referencing, and cross referencing will help not only to cement the rules and guidelines in the writer’s mind but to engage the writer in the editing process and prevent fatigue.

Remember, if you took the VARK Online Learning Styles Test and your total was more than 25, you’re a multi-modal learner, as am I. So all of the strategies that we’ve discussed for visual learners, aural and kinesthetic need to be in your toolbox, otherwise you’ll find yourself getting frustrated, easily distracted, or blocked.

On Monday, we’ll talk about the importance of approaching your document as a student, how writing to learn can improve your effectiveness and strengthen your connection with your reader. So what kind of a learner are you? And what insights did you glean from this post? Remember, you don’t have to be registered to comment.


  1. […] had intended this to be a two-part post to offer some suggestions for visual, aural, and kinesthetic learners to write in a way that is […]

  2. […] Writing to Learn – Part II – In which I offer suggestions for aural and kinesthetic learners to approach the writing process as students and thereby reach their readers more effectively, after offering similar suggestions for visual learners and before encouraging read/write learners to engage the visual, aural, and kinesthetic learners in their audience. […]

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