Unlock Your Learning Power

By Diane Ruth
Published on Jan 15th, 2011

How powerful would it be if we knew by standing on the left side of the instructor in the middle of the group we would process the lesson more efficiently, even under stress? In some ways we already know. How often have we said; “I really want to take this seminar; I need to get a good spot…” Where’s a good spot? A good spot for you may not be a good spot for me. Wouldn’t it make our next lesson a lot easier to learn if we know we learned best starting with the larger generalized idea or if we learned best starting with details to put the idea together? If you knew how you learn best you could say to your instructor “I’d like to go over the big picture before we go through the steps,” or “can we go through each step so I understand the order before we talk about the big picture.” As adults we’ve learned to work with what’s presented to us. We instinctively make determinations to process information in order to survive. With a little research, we can develop habits that ensure we learn to our fullest potential. A very useful tool is a book called “The Dominance Factor” by Carla Hannaford, Ph.D. This book discusses Dominance Profiling a method used to determine your learning strengths and weaknesses.

What is Dominance Profiling? Dominance Profiling is a way to determine what your learning style or your students learning style is in an effort to learn or teach more effectively. To better explain this idea I’ve taken this excerpt directly from the book “The Dominance Factor” by Carla Hannaford, Ph.D. “There are 32 different Dominance Profiles. You assign them by determining which of your eyes, ears, hands, feet and brain hemispheres are dominant (the ones used more frequently and more adeptly). People display all sorts of arrangements of dominance. You may, for instance, have a dominant left hand but a dominant right foot. You may have a dominant right eye but a dominant left ear. Your lateral dominance is basically innate and influences the way that your body and mind initially process information. These innate or basal dominance patterns are particularly useful for school children. But, they also illuminate the behavior of adults in stressful circumstances.”

Dr. Carla Hannaford, (Jamilla Nur), PhD, is a Neurophysiologist and educator with more than 30 years of teaching experience, including 20 years as a professor of Biology and four years as a school counselor for children with learning difficulties. Since 1988 she has been an internationally recognized educational consultant, making more than 500 presentations worldwide on the neural basis of learning and Brain Gym. She was selected as a guest educator to AHP - Soviet Project, has been recognized by Who's Who in American Education and received awards from the University of Hawaii and the American Association for the Advancement of Science for outstanding teaching of science. (Copyright BrainWaves Educational Kinesiology). In the dominance Factor she explores an area that has long intrigued scientists and educators; the linkages between the side of the body we favor for seeing, hearing, touching, and moving and the way we think, learn, work, play, and relate to others.

The Brain hemisphere starts the profile process. As Dr. Hannaford explains, “our brains are composed of two distinct hemispheres which are connected in the middle by a bundle of nerve fibers called the corpus callosum. Each hemisphere develops and processes information in a specific way. To put it in simple terms, the logic hemisphere (usually on the left side) deals with details, the parts and processes of language and linear analysis. By contrast, the gestalt – meaning whole-processing or global as compared to linear – hemisphere (usually the right side) deals with images, rhythm, emotion and intuition.” Many refer to this as left-brained and right-brained. In most humans the body is anatomically the same. There have been some cases where the organs of the body are in the opposite position. Due to these rare instances where the gestalt brain hemisphere is not always on the right and the logic hemisphere is not always on the left we’ll refer to it properly by gestalt and logic. In the Martial arts you may see the differences in the way you or your student moves. Gestalt dominant tend to moves rhythmically, spontaneous, free form or moves with emotion while Logic dominant tend to plan moves, follow step by step instruction or able to follow specific steps. The idea is to have both hemispheres working equally for ideal learning to take place. For instance the gestalt hemisphere is considered the creative side, but it takes logic functioning in art, music, dance and sports to learn the proper techniques to be highly creative. Your gestalt side with help you move extemporaneously while your logic side will analyze the specific techniques.

How many of us have experienced the following; “I’m really worried about my kid failing this school year, they say he has a learning disability. ”Really? Maybe he just needs to move his seat or have the lesson taught more visually. Knowing his “Dominance Profile” would help him learn new information and handle classroom stress more efficiently. Dr. Hannaford talks about this in her book, “I feel the incongruous match between instructional methods and student learning profiles may be one of the many factors contributing to the increase in learning disabilities such as ADD, ADHD, Dyslexia and Emotional Handicaps in schools today.” In her books she gives an example of a 10 year old boy placed in special education classes for three years. She did an assessment on him and determined he’s Profile L (the 32 Profiles are labeled from A to PP). She explains to the father “that his son is the kind of learner who processed information with internal imagery, needing the whole picture and emotion to understand a concept, and who needed to move to anchor information. Profile L learners have great potential for creative and intuitive thinking, but they may have trouble communicating their thoughts and feelings when under stress.” She encouraged his father by sharing her belief that Albert Einstein was a Profile L leaner because he didn’t talk competently until the age of seven and often referred to his internal image-laden inspirations that sparked his groundbreaking insights. Through Dr. Hannaford’s research she determined 89% of the Special Education group were Gestalt dominant (primarily kinesthetic learners), compared to only 22% of the Gifted and Talented group. This is may be why many Special Education students do well in a Martial Arts Environment.

Exploring the profiles helps us see the value in this information. As illustrated above Profile L is the kind of learner who processed information with internal imagery. This profile consists of: Right Brain (Gestalt), Right Eye, Right Ear, Right Hand and Right Foot. This learner’s receptive and expressive modalities are limited under stress because all the learning components are dominant on the right side. “During stress this person is unable to access most auditory and visual information and has difficulty moving gracefully and communicating. This kind of learner becomes overwhelmed by the whole picture, unable to see the details, and must have quiet time alone to process information internally. Because they have difficulty verbalizing, seeing or hearing under stress, they often get labeled learning disabled.” Knowing this information makes you aware of your personal needs. If you are profile L you can take the lesson and work on it in a corner by yourself to process it fully. As an instructor you could recognize student’s with this profile need to work independently for a few minutes to fully understand the lesson. Then you can bring them back to the class for questions.
Another application for this information is preparing for a fight. As a competitor you may get tapes on your opponent for the purposes of studying their strengths and weaknesses. You can easily determine if she’s right hand or left foot dominant. Wouldn’t it be useful to know her limitations under stress? She may need to move with limited stimulus while processing internally. By throwing multiple punches and keeping her still in the corner you would limit her ability to think. If her profile tells you she has difficulty seeing the forest through the trees your combinations would alter to include kicks and different kinds of punches to give her too many variables to pick up. You could strategize accordingly for your most effective defense. Or you may realize you’ve trained a fighting strategy that gives her the advantage.

My husband and I did a dominance profile assessment at our school on three of our beginner students 2 months into their training. It helped us line them up appropriately. Since one student was very right eye dominant we put her on the left in the first spot. One student was very left eye dominant so we put him on the far right. The other student was more neutral so we put him in the middle. This group happens to be siblings and the oldest; tallest is actually lined up last due to his dominance profile. Once we made the switch it made a big difference with their understanding of the material.

As we interact with the world we learn to adapt to our environments and work with our challenges. It may be hard to determine someone’s Dominance Profile because they’ve adapted to the environments they lived in all their lives. For example: 80% of the population is not auditory learners yet that is the predominant way most of us were taught in school. The majority of us had to learn in a less desirable environment so we could survive and move to the next grade. It is important not to Label learners. Understanding the Dominance Profile for a student is not about labeling them; but finding the best way to get your lesson across to them.
This information indicates ways individuals are prone to respond and should be used to help not hinder people. I encourage you to consult this book for more complete information.

Filed under Philosophy and Opinion

Author Bio :: Diane Ruth

Diane started training in the Martial Arts in 1997 and received her Black Belt certification in 2003. For fifteen years Mrs. Ruth has trained in Ed Parker's Kenpo Karate exclusively. She is a professional instructor teaching both children and adults. Mrs. Ruth is a partner in M&D's Modern Martial Arts Club. M&D's Modern Martial Arts Club which is affiliated with The MALC and Kenpo2000. Diane's primary focus is developing a complete teaching strategy which incorporates Principle Based teaching.

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