The majority of massage students at Otago Polytechnic are assessed as being kinaesthetic learners on the VARK learning styles questionnaire (Fleming, 2006). Many sources consider the online learning environment ill-suited to kinaesthetic learners.

Visual and reader-writer learners seem to be more attracted to the online environment compared to aural and kinaesthetic learners (Halsne & Gatta, 2002; Drago & Wagner, 2004).

However once the students are enrolled, there are inconsistencies in the literature. Eom & Wen (2006) find that students with kinaesthetic and aural learning preferences experience less satisfaction and perceive that they had worse outcomes in online courses relative to reader/writers and visual. Drago & Wagner (2004) however find that there are no significant differences between kinaesthetic learners and the rest of the population for similar measures.

Meyer (2002) asserts that visual learners are more successful online than aural or kinaesthetic learners,
however Neuhauer (2002) finds no relationship between learning preferences and success.

What are we to make of these inconsistencies? Perhaps the differences are a result of course design.

Some online activities are likely to appeal to kinaesthetic learners more than others (Bonk & Zhang, 2006). Practical application is said to be key in the kinaesthetic learner’s educational process (Bonk & Zhang, 2006; Burd & Buchanan, 2004). Two approaches which may be of benefit to kinaesthetic students are the use of case-based learning, and alternating chunks of theoretical learning with exercises which require the students to practically apply their learning. Interactive graphical environments such as drag-and-drop interfaces, virtual reality environments, simulations and gaming interfaces are also likely to appeal to kinaesthetic learners (Summers, 2007), although the development costs involved in these types of learning environments are significantly higher than more traditional text-based instruction (Rumble, 2001).

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