Help! I need study tips and I'm a kinesthetic learner

Nurses Nurse Beth

Updated:   Published

Specializes in Tele, ICU, Staff Development.

Hi Nurse Beth,

I was just wondering, I'm currently an aged care Nurse, I'm currently studying my Batchelor of Nursing. I have been having trouble retaining all the information, so I completed a VAK assessment I got 9 As 3-Bs and 18-Cs I was wondering if you had any tips for a Kinesthetic learner to retain information.
Kind Regards

Dear Kinesthetic Learner,

It is said that most nurses are kinesthetic learners as we have a reputation for being able to "MacGyver" anything and make it work. BioMed techs shake their heads at us and have inside jokes about how we nurses can break/fix anything.

Learning Styles

The VAK (visual, auditory, kinesthetic) assessment is a fun test to determine your learning style, but it has not been validated in the literature. You may have a learning style that you enjoy more than others, but there is no evidence to support that using the model improves outcomes.

In reality, we all learn differently at different times and in different circumstances.

What I can tell you as an experienced Nursing Professional Development Specialist is that adult learners do learn what is relevant to them. It's the "what's in it for me?" principle. So I have a very easy time teaching nurses the newest Alaris IV pump, for example, but it's far more challenging to teach capnography monitoring to nurses who are not likely to use capnography in their areas.

Likewise, courses of study in your Bachelor's program may not seem to have direct relevance to your nursing practice. But your motivation to earn your Bachelor's degree can help you just like it did back when you were studying for your nursing degree. Think back. What helped you then? Did you take notes? Study in a study group?


When you are presented with a large amount of information, you must prioritize the most important points. Take it a step further and anticipate what you'll be tested on. Often the instructor will emphasize key points, so it's important to "read" your instructors. Pay close attention to the instructions and comments your instructors make on the discussion boards if you are in an online program.

Become the teacher. Ask yourself "If I were the instructor, what would I expect the learner to retain?" Be specific.

A yellow highlighter used sparingly is indispensable to me when reading a text or an article. It focuses my brain, forces me to identify key information, and channels my kinesthetic energy.

Critical Thinking

Higher education makes you a better critical thinker. Reading is not studying. When you are learning about the nursing theorists, for example, make yourself summarize in just 1-2 sentences what each one postulated. Do it. It's a great exercise that will improve your critical thinking.

Take it to the next step by comparing and contrasting the theorists.

Finally, internalize what you learn by examining your own beliefs, and how they affect your nursing practice. Do you agree with Callista Roy or Dorothea Orem ? If not, why not?


To retain information, boost your learning. The majority of what you learn is quickly forgotten. Boost your memory at planned intervals, such as 24 hrs, 72 hrs and 2 weeks. During your initial studying, again, become the teacher. Formulate a couple of key questions and put them aside. Later, take out the questions and quiz yourself briefly on what you learned.

Focusing on even just 1-2 points awakens your surrounding memory to the other facts learned at the same time. This helps transfer learning from your short-term memory to your long-term memory.

Short, intense study times can be more effective than longer ones. Study something and then go for a walk, or clean your kitchen. During the off-activity, your brain will continue to work in the background, even while you're asleep.

I hope this helps you, and best wishes!

Nurse Beth

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