Understanding How People Learn

I was one of the last people in our company to get a computer, so I was quite far behind in understanding how it all worked. So I enlisted a few teachers. Each would control the mouse while I took copious notes. After the teachers left I would sit down and use my notes to navigate this strange tech world. But I could not replicate what the teachers had done.

Then I found a teacher who let me control the mouse while the teacher conducted the lesson from a chair beside me. Finally, I figured it out.

That’s because I am a tactile learner. I need to actually perform the task in order to learn.

Having been a teacher and coach for most of my life, I knew that tactile learning could be important. But I did not realize how many people are like me. In seminars I give, I ask people how they learn, and I’ve compiled their answers. Here are the results of this informal survey of my students: 15 percent are visual learners, 5 percent are auditory learners and 80 percent are tactile learners. Conducting this survey reinforced for me the lesson that we as leaders need to figure out more creative ways of learning and teaching through hands-on experiences.

The Leadership Coach is Peter Burwash, president of Peter Burwash International, which manages tennis instruction programs worldwide. His books are available through the Media Zone. He can be reached at