Visual/spatial learners are artists, architects, and great parallel parkers. They can easily see how objects relate to one another in space. They may think in pictures rather than words, which can make it difficult to write papers effectively. They tend to learn things all at once, instead of in a sequential manner. Instead of using typical methods, they prefer to come up with their own answers to problems. These students learn best by grasping relationships between ideas.
So, what are the implications for how visual learners can best approach the paper writing process?
1. Plan visually.
Most people are taught to plan their writing by creating an outline. However, visual learners may benefit from laying their ideas out in a more spatial manner. Instead of writing in a list format, why not create an idea map for your paper? Below are two documents to help visual/spatial learners plan their papers in a different way. The first is a template, the second an example of how to fill in the template.
This is a skill that most readers do naturally, but when reading high level, academic texts, it is easy to stop visualizing. Try to see the concepts or ideas in your mind. Maybe even sketch a picture of your thoughts. This can help you ground yourself and understand your reading.
3. If you are unfamiliar with a topic, gain some background knowledge by watching educational videos or looking at books with pictures.
A key component to gaining deep understanding is connecting to background knowledge. If you don’t know enough about a topic, first fill your background knowledge bucket by watching a video on YouTube or finding some other visual way to become acquainted with your topic. A great paper
shows that its writer is an expert on the topic.
Information on visual/spatial learners gathered from:
What are the multiple intelligences? Howard Gardner coined the term in 1983 to refer to the different ways that people learn. The multiple intelligences are:
Those who are linguistic learners love reading and writing. They are adept with words and may also be good at learning new languages.
Linguistic learners probably love writing papers, because it gives them a chance to express themselves in words.
This intelligence has to do with abstract thinking skills. Those who are mathematical/logical thinkers can easily connect the dots and come up with new ideas.
This intelligence also comes in handy when writing papers, because a large part of the thinking that goes into paper writing is connecting ideas to come up with a cohesive thesis.
Spatial thinkers are good at putting puzzles together. They can see how objects relate to one another. For example, spatial thinkers are great parallel parkers. (Whereas I usually think I am way closer to the other cars than I actually am!) They also tend to be artists or other professionals with a visual focus.
How does spatial intelligence relate to paper writing? In traditional paper writing, it doesn’t seem to apply. However, spatial thinkers can tailor their paper writing experience to their strengths. Instead of writing outlines, they can choose to make an idea map, where each concept connects visually to the next.
Bodily/kinesthetic learners are adept with using their bodies. Athletes and dancers have a high bodily/kinesthetic experience. They are able to focus on a physical goal and hone their bodily responses to meet that goal. They also tend to like moving their bodies when they learn, and physical learning experiences can help them internalize concepts.
Bodily/kinesthetic learners may struggle with paper writing, because it is such a sedentary activity. However, why not infuse some of the process with physical activity? Instead of sitting still while reading research articles, why not work out and read at the same time? It may be helpful to visualize paper writing skills and connect them with physical goals as well. Kicking a soccer ball into a goal, hitting a baseball, or making a slam-dunk is akin to writing a clear, focused thesis statement.
As you might guess, those with musical intelligence have a good pitch and a sense of rhythm. Musical thinkers tend to also be good with language, which can come in handy with paper writing.
I would also argue that a well-written paper has its own internal rhythm. The sentences flow well together, alternating between longer, more complex ones, and shorter, succinct ones. If you are a musical thinker, write and read your paper over with an ear for flow. Does your paper sound like a well composed piece of music, or is it more like a series of disjointed sounds? Use your musical strength to revise and enhance your paper.
Those with interpersonal intelligence relate well to others. They can understand other people and what they need to be successful. They are also empathetic and are able to motivate others. Those with this intelligence learn best by working with others and discussing their ideas.
If you are a highly interpersonal learner, get together with other students and write your papers side by side. Leave time for discussing the ideas in your paper. Many people think that they need to be secluded to write papers, and they struggle to stay focused. That is because some people need to discuss their ideas with others in order to fully understand the concepts. If that sounds like you, make paper writing into a social event. Instead of sitting down alone to write your outline, jot down ideas while discussing them with your peers.
Intrapersonal learners have a deep understanding of themselves. They tend to be very introspective and understand their strengths and weaknesses and what they need to be successful.
If you are an intrapersonal learner, use introspection to your advantage. Think about your strengths and weaknesses in regard to paper writing. In which areas do you need more help? Plan your paper writing accordingly.
Those with naturalistic intelligence feel deeply connected to nature. They are able to understand the natural patterns in the world and are great gardeners and naturalists. They love animals and other living things.
If this sounds like you, try to come up with topics about nature for your papers. If that doesn’t work, why not write your paper outside, in a park? Fill your home with growing things and see if it helps you to stay energized.
Most people are a mixture of many of the intelligences. For example, I excel at paper writing, because I am a linguistic, mathematical/logical, and intrapersonal learner. However, I could never be an artist or an athlete, because my ability to relate objects in space and to make physical goals are nil. However, I love painting abstract watercolors and doing yoga, because they are highly intrepersonal activities.
What are your strongest intelligences? Take this test to find out where your strengths lie. How can you use them to help you in the paper writing process?