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Visual spatial learner

  1. Oct 30, 2006 #1


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    Im a visual spatial learner, a picture thinking process u can call it.....

    My brain has been wired to pick up certain information in which a picture can be created in my mind, i say a picture, but a better explanation would be to say that a short movie clip is created and runs inside my mind....

    Therefore: solutions to any problems need not have a step by step process which must be followed, rather a step 1 and a step 2...... start and finish...
    thats it, all the info inbetween cannot be written down or explained, simply because the trial and error process takes place in my mind, until the i feel the right solution has been found.

    Is there anyone who can comment not only on what i have said here but maybe someone else who is a picture thinker to add some clarity..
  2. jcsd
  3. Oct 30, 2006 #2


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    I tend to be a visual learner myself. There are advantages and dissadvantages. For one, we tend to come up with answers that we feel are right (as you said). This is a terrible way to solve problems, because it is unreliable and will produce answers that "look right to me", but aren't, and I have no way of telling wether my answer is right or not if I can't write down the steps in between.

    On the other hand, we do tend to come up with answers much more quickly, because the visual method works by "leaps" in logic. If a visual thinker can develope the discipline to trace back his answers and form a logical, step-by-step discription of the "why" of an answer, he will tend to arrive at the answer more quickly than the more "linear" type of thinker. And occassionaly, we see anwers that just could not ever be arrived at "step-by-step".

    But both types of thinking are really nacessary. Whichever one a man may have by nature, he should work hard at developing the other, so he can approach questions from a well-rounded perspective.
  4. Nov 20, 2008 #3
    hi, I am a visual spatial learner too, thinking in pictures, movies. I think mostly in 3d and people don't understand me with most time, for they can not believe I already have the sollution although they still need to go step by step. this make it in the society really unbelievable to maintain. They just don't believe me or they don't trust me, how can I know that???
  5. Nov 20, 2008 #4


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    Staff: Mentor

    Note that a couple of the "Similar Threads" listed at the bottom of this page may be of interest to you guys...
  6. Nov 20, 2008 #5


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    JDS, if you are able to "Play" motion pictures of situations in you head, you have a skill which most people only have to a much poorer extent. In any case, being able to create a picture (non-moving) is essential to most if not all of mathematics and physics and engineering. One develops a picture, labels parts of it, creates/derives expressions and equations, and then solves some particular practical or theoretical problem. The pictures are necessary for organizing the situation understandibly.

    Your description of "thinking in moving pictures" resembles that of a very famous and successful individual known to have asperger's syndrome (or autistic).
  7. Nov 20, 2008 #6
    to symbolipoint,

    thanks for your comment, but visual spatial learner has got nothing to do with autistic people.when I come inside a building, Just with 1 time I see how good or bad they made a construction, or where I can find the red thread in a film, or even how it will end. For I feel en see it in my mind. I can turn the film or anything else anyhow I want in my mind. I even create of make things better in my mind, or how it should be better instantly, for I see the whole situation just like that. but for getting or having work as profession nobody believe that, for they don't trust that, I don't have any paper to tell I can do that. although it is like that.

    I am very good with technics, advanced technics such like using light, etc. but as I don't have any certification of graduate, I didn't know I was visual spatial learner, they said I couldn't learn, so I only have high school papers. But as a matter of fact, I am more advanced on telecommunicatie, new sort ones etc. and other forms of technics aswell. and having a interesting job is very difficult, for nobody believes you.
    Many engineer don't want to work with movies or pictures although it is crucial to find weaknesses in everything you make or repair.
  8. Nov 20, 2008 #7


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    I too am a visual learner.

    When I was in school, I initially had a tough time understanding some math concepts. But once I got them, I got them so well that it was as if they became actual objects created in my brain, that I could toss up in the air, juggle, spin around, pull on and push on - just to see what they would do. I might have a formula and see its curve in my head. As I changed parameters, the curve would move in real time. Basically, it was a 4-dimensional image, viewable in time as well as 3D space. I routinely play with concepts this way, manipulating graphs with multiple dimensions.

    And I'm currently on my third prototype of a 4D table that represents the 4 parameters of the Meyers-Briggs personality test... :D
    Last edited: Nov 20, 2008
  9. Nov 21, 2008 #8
    hmm, i thought almost all engineers thought visually. or maybe i just don't grok your meaning. but if you go in a building where there are engineers, find a bulletin board. often, if you look on the back side of the items posted there, you will find some scribbles where one engineer was describing his idea to another.
  10. Nov 21, 2008 #9


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    Since this thread has resurfaced, I've moved it to the educator forum. While it's not directly a topic for educators, discussion of learning styles is of interest to educators, so this seems the most appropriate place for it.
  11. Nov 24, 2008 #10
    I'm not exactly in this camp. For me, the biggest challenge in learning something new is to chase away the intuitive discomfort. To do this I have to formulate the material VERY precisely so the picture that comes to my mind is completely free of ambiguity. I am intuitive enough but I am suspicious of intuition and when I can't formulate things explicitly and precisely it makes me uneasy. I can say something "feels right" but I'm not going to continue until I find exactly why it's right. I don't think it's a good way of learning things because an enormous amount of time is spent filtering out the intuition or uncovering the tacit assumptions made that most people don't even realize are made since they are so embedded into their intuition and once that done I try to figure out why intuition was in agreement (or disagreement) with how things actually are. To me, figuring out the processes that leads me to learn something is as important as the learning itself. If I try to be dismissive of this I stay with a feeling of discomfort.

    One advantage though is that makes finding subtle differences between different situations and explaining them fully a more familiar exercise. I don't know what's the matter with me, to tell the truth, maybe it's too much lack of confidence into my intuitive side.
  12. Nov 24, 2008 #11


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    Is it just me or have you been incommunicado for a loooong time until very recently?
  13. Nov 24, 2008 #12
    Who are you referring to, Dave?
  14. Nov 24, 2008 #13
    too many people think they are visual learners. i personally don't even think such a thing exists.

    mostly everything you do is easier to understand with a picture. thats why all your textbooks contain diagrams. if i tried to describe to you what a racoon is, no matter how poetic my words may be, you would still come out with a very poor intuitive graps of what a raccoon looks like. but if i showed you a picture, you'd understand instantly.

    what you are describing with an intuitive grasp of answers is not new either. its called intuition. and it isn't always right. what it does is draw analogies from previous experiences and pieces them together as logically as possible. for instance, your intuition would tell you that a bowling ball and a penny would not hit the ground at the same time - where in fact they do.

    if you cannot describe the process that got you there i am afraid this is a very important skill you need to develop. one must learn to express his ideas on paper to succeed just about anywhere. it also makes for good science. i also think you just play too many video games.
  15. Nov 24, 2008 #14


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  16. Nov 24, 2008 #15


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    You should talk to more people before coming to such a conclusion. See below.

    That works for visual concepts, sure. But what about more abstract concepts? How many movies can you name that were better than the book? No picture can describe with such beautiful detail the things I have read in books.

    The problem with visual input is that it does not provide interpretation. The viewer is free to roam about the picture and come to all sorts of incorrect conclusions. Believe me, as an artist, I know.

    Ask ten people to describe ewhat they see in a paintin in a gallery. You will get ten different answers, that's ten interpretations.

    But a writer can transmit to you almost exactly what he wants you to get. Stephen King said in his book "On Writing": It is the closest thing we have to telepathy.

    I will introduce you to my son and wife. They are both auditory learners. They learn best by hearing things, such as spoken instructions. Visual learning does not stimulate them in the right ways to retain the information.

    They cannot make heads or tails of a map, but read the directions to them...

    The three types of learning are:
    visual, auditory and kinesthetic.

    I know I am not auditory or kinesthetic because neither of those stimulate retention of knowledge in me.
    Last edited: Nov 24, 2008
  17. Nov 24, 2008 #16
    ??? Explain.
  18. Nov 24, 2008 #17
    you really think so? i'm sure you're more one than others, but if you really want to learn something, then read it, speak it, hear it, write it, and do it.
  19. Dec 6, 2008 #18
    I'm glad to see this discussion. I don't think I'd be overly exaggerating if I claimed I was a purely visual learner. lol

    If I can't "see" something, I can't do it.

    Unfortunately, I was "turned away" from math and physics in primary school because of this. As a child, I loved science and drawing....so I wanted to become an Engineer (I had no idea what that was...someone told me they were scientists that drew things).

    After doing fantastic in Geometry and loving every minute of it, I had a teacher in Algebra that had a major distaste for anything even remotely "visual" in mathematics. I was so turned off that I avoided math completely and earned a degree in kinesiology.

    Years later, I slowly began to rekindle my childhood love of hard science, still convinced that I had no hope in pursuing it professionally.

    Luckily, I got frustrated enough with my complete lack of mathematical understanding and taught myself calculus....which I found wonderful!

    I soon learned that, while I may be "poorly equipped" for arithmetic, I seemed to be "made for" analysis.

    To any educators reading, please hear my plight....
    I understand the necessity of pure mathematical logic. I understand the need for formality and rigor in mathematics, but I hope those teaching that formality can understand the frustration of a visual learner.

    I finally decided to return to school for a second degree last year. Because of my previous degree, I was able to "sneak past" some mathematical pre-requisites and avoid Calc I while taking Calc II and Calc III in the same semester.

    I informed both of my professors of my situation (hoping they wouldn't raise a stink about my lack of pre-requisites) and received very different responses.

    My Calc III professor was very intrigued and INCREDIBLY helpful. He seemed to take a great interest in someone taking Calc III as their first ever math course (I've still never had Trig, College Algebra, pre-calc or Calc I) and understood my "visual" learning.

    He helped me work through my embarrassing algebra mistakes when he could see I understood the concepts "visually."

    My Calc II professor took a different approach and made it a point to emphasize each area my lack of "formality" affected.

    I love anything involving convergence and divergence, especially series. From day one, I could "see" whether a series converged or diverged almost immediately...after which I would hope and pray I could work out the "mathematics" well enough to receive credit.

    I ended up doing fairly well in both classes, getting an A (with top class scores on the mid term and finals) in Calc III and an b+ in Calc II.

    The B+ was filled with MANY correct answers that were not given full...if any credit.

    Sorry for the long post....but I talk with so many people that have been "turned off" from math, convinced it isn't for them, before ever getting a chance to see how "beautiful" it can be.

    As a point of emphasis, that b+ grade includes an examination with every answer correct, but marked down to a 67% because of lack of rigor and explanation with my correct answers.
  20. Dec 7, 2008 #19


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    There are actually more learning styles than that, those are just three often talked about. Actually, the one this thread is discussing, of visual spatial is not the same as visual even. A visual learner is someone who learns well just from reading a textbook, for example, or watching something demonstrated. A visual spatial learner is more able to manipulate objects in their mind, and can do well on tasks that involve envisioning three-dimensional structures.

    Also, people frequently lump together kinesthetic and tactile learners, which is also not correct. A tactile learner is someone who needs to manipulate things with their hands to learn well. These can be people who do well in laboratory courses, but can also be someone who just learns best when pacing the floor, standing at a white board jotting down diagrams, etc. The kinesthetic learner, on the other hand, is really using more of the whole learning context. They're the ones who might perform best if they study in the room where their exams are held, because the contextual environment of that classroom aids them in recall. Or, if learning a new language, may be best using it in context...go to the park and teach them phrases about seeing dogs in parks, hearing children laugh, etc. Seeing a picture of a dog in a park might not be as effective, nor would just learning to translate a sentence on a piece of paper.

    And, reading through the discussion here and people providing all their various advice on how to learn, highlights the problems that happen in the classroom. If someone is an auditory learner, it is very hard for them, when they begin to lecture, to understand how someone who is a tactile learner is acquiring knowledge, and can neglect students with learning styles different from their own. There is some evidence in the literature I've been recently reading that students with particular learning styles tend to gravitate toward specific majors and professions. This may NOT necessarily mean that those professions require those learning styles, but that the bias of the educators in those fields who also were selected by their instructors' biases could be self-perpetuating this selection for learning styles.

    So, for example, when Proton Soup is suggesting that to learn something well, one should read, write, speak, hear and do it...he may very well be a kinesthetic learner, needing the sum total of all those experiences to fully learn a subject.

    I am very much a tactile learner. Unless I'm using my hands in some way while reading, it doesn't "stick." For example, if I'm reading a journal article, I'll do odd things like hold up a hand with a closed fist..."Okay, here's the hypothesis." And then as I read through the presented evidence, I'm ticking off with my fingers each major piece of evidence. It may sound strange, and wasn't something I really recognized I was even doing until really starting to learn about learning styles. I might have to read something several times to get all the key points. If I'm sitting through talks and lectures, it might as well go in one ear and out the other...though doodling helps while listening. But, put something in my hands and explain to me how to do something while I'm doing it, and you'll never need to explain it again...it just clicks instantly. I'm the same way with directions. Tell me directions, and I may or may not remember them all. Drive me somewhere, and I'll remember most of the turns, but probably would still get lost. Put me behind the wheel and tell me when to turn right or left, and I will always be able to find my way...and no problem at that point of mentally reversing the directions to get back home either.

    One other thing that's worth noting is that there are people who do not just have one predominant learning style. There are some who can learn equally well from reading and listening, and are both visual and auditory learners. Often, people have one dominant learning style that is preferred, but have a secondary style that works for them too, so can be somewhat adaptive to different teaching styles.
  21. Dec 8, 2008 #20
    looks like moonbear is wearing her thinking cap


    and something else i wanted to mention about my statement moonbear referred to. at least when it comes to taking exams, one of the types of memory you should exercise is http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Declarative_memory" [Broken]. and this is much of what i'm getting at in the list i posted, practicing different forms of active recall, alongside the other, to test your knowledge.

    and actually, moonbear, i'm wondering if your ticking off points with your fingers is not a type of (mostly) internalized active recall.

    on a more personal note, i have a very difficult time following speech. which is odd because i can play back music in my head on a whim. i think maybe i have a speech subprocessing problem.
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