Study skills
By Gregory Mitchell - Copyright © 2003
Chapter 13 - Sight, Sound, Action...

Approximately one third of persons prefer to learn by seeing. They have a preference for the visual sense. They enjoy communicating through pictures, graphs and visual artifacts. They are particularly good at visualizing remembered or imaginary scenes. They may utilize pictures rather than sounds when spelling and remembering. They prefer to ‘map out’ instructions using a layout plan; when giving directions they will make references to what you will ‘see’ and in general they will think in visual terms.

Another third of persons enjoy communicating and learning by means of sound, including the spoken word. They have a preference for the auditory sense. Discussion and oral exercises suit them best. They tend to remember names rather than faces and may spell by recalling the patterns of sounds. They prefer to give and receive instructions verbally, with emphasis on sequence, repetition and summary.

The final third of persons prefer to engage with experience physically. They have a preference for the kinesthetic senses of feeling, touch, movement and position. In communication they make their point with their hands and bodies and become animated as they do so. They learn best through practice and experience and may feel frustrated with static learning situations using books and lectures. They will give instructions by demonstration or gestures; when giving directions they would be more inclined to take you there.

We do, to a large extent, utilize all three sensual modalities, but tend to have a particular preference for one. We do best to structure our learning to utilize all the senses, including our favored modality. Since the given materials, such as the current Mind Development course, may be predominantly written information, it falls on the student to express the information in diverse ways. In doing so, he or she will learn more in the process. 

Let us take the example of an airline pilot, to see how he learns complex series of mechanical and systems checks. Every six months his license and therefore his living, depends on his passing a test that requires him to remember all these checks in sequence and to apply them in a test situation. In this case the test situation is a simulator and amongst the many compulsory drills to be tested is a simulated engine failure during take-off. It is a situation, whether imagined or real, of high stress. 

Lives depend not only on the pilots ability to remember but also on the ability to perform the remembered tasks in the correct sequence whilst also catering for other, unanticipated, variables. He does not remember and learn to perform at this level by reading and re-reading the manual, followed by a written exam. That is not enough; he needs a multi-sensory approach.

The flight deck of a modern airliner is organized so that the systems controlling the aircraft can be managed effectively and systematically. Flight instrumentation gives feedback on all operating systems. The crew are required to talk through agreed procedures and affirm their completion: it is aural. As they engage a control or operate a switch, the pilots point to and physically touch the instrument: it is physical. In the unlikely event of a stall or being too close to terrain, a warning system operates: lights flash, a loud warning signal repeats and a recorded voice warns of the danger, plus the control column vibrates. It is a visual, auditory and kinesthetic experience.

How does a pilot learn the complex systems? Yes, there are manuals. Yes, there are updates and briefings. Yes, there are simulator courses, feedback from supervisory captains and regular tests. But ultimately it requires the individual on his or her own to learn the mass of material. He needs to make the information his own. 

Firstly, he takes the systems notes provided by the official manual and reconstructs the essential areas into his own notes. There are more maps and diagrams than written explanations. Each complex procedure is broken down into structured elements following a clear formula comprising flow charts and highlighted keywords, and the actions sequenced properly. A summary map is placed on the wall above the study desk. On the desk is placed a large layout of the controls of the airplane’s flight deck. 

To learn the drills, the pilot looks at his flow chart, says the action described there aloud, as he reaches forward and touches the control on the layout plan. It is rehearsed until there is no need for the props and prompt cards - until he can do it blind: in his mind’s eye he is able to say the action described, see the flight deck, move his hand to operate the control, and move on to the next action. The learning is being rehearsed in three different sensory modalities: visual, auditory and kinesthetic. The new knowledge is reviewed regularly both by the pilot and in formal tests in order to keep the retention high.

This is real learning: learning for application, both mental and physical. It requires involvement and initiative from the student, but the reward is a high level of skill and that makes possible the realistic accomplishment of life objectives.

The formula for effective recall:

Effective recall = MOSS...

Motivation + a clear sense of a positive Outcome + useful Strategies + the correct State

Recall requires conscious attention and directed effort. We need to intend to recall the information at the beginning of the ‘revision’ process. Ask:

A clear sense of a positive outcome
An outcome we can move toward is important. Ask:

Useful strategies
Combinations of learning methods - such as those discussed above - are most effective. Ask:

The correct state
We need to be in the correct state for study, both physically and emotionally. This requires regular breaks, a healthy diet, good sleep, a supportive learning environment and a positive state of mind. Ask:

It is said that we learn...
10% of what we read
20% of what we hear
30% of what we see
50% of what we both see and hear
70% of what is discussed with others
80% of what we experience personally
90% of what we teach to others


1. Introduction
2. Barriers to Learning
3. Setting Objectives
4. Reading Techniques
5. Key Word Noting
6. More on Note-Taking
7. Associative Networks
8. Asking Questions & Listening
9. Thinking Clearly
10. Word Definitions
11. Defeating the Decay of Memories
12. Physical Learning
13. Sight, Sound, Action...
14. The Decision to Fail
15. What's Next?


Copyright © 2004 Gregory Mitchell - Published by Trans4mind

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