VARK Learning Style

By: Anum Sidhu, MS Clinical Psychology

VARK is a sensory model and it is an extension of the neuro-linguistic model. In the acronym VARK,

  • V stands for visual,
  • A for aural,
  • R for read/write and
  • K for kinesthetic.

According to Fleming (2006), VARK refers to category of communication preference. It deals with the way we take in and give out information. He conducted a VARK survey in order to evaluate people’s learning style preferences. While observing that different people prefer different ways of learning, he reached the following conclusions:

  • The preferred modes of learning (also called ‘modal preferences) influence behaviors of individuals.
  • Both teachers and students can provide examples of their preferred learning styles.
  •  Using one’s preferences, strategies can be developed for improving learning in that person.
  • Matching strategies for learning of a person with his learning style preferences can be highly motivating for him.
  • This matching would also lead to deeper approach to learning, consistent learning efforts and effective metacognition.
  • In order to improve one’s learning, knowledge of his learning styles and acting on them is important [1].

The VARK learning style model is modified from VAK model. The VARK inventory developed by Fleming (2006) provides scores on each of these four perceptual modes. Individuals have learning style preferences from 1 to all 4 modes. In VARK questionnaire, the individual is asked thirteen questions and he has to choose one or more of actions corresponding to learning style preferences. Ten questions have four choices and three questions have three choices [2].

It has been observed that visual learners usually like graphs, brochures, charts, highlighters, designs, pictures etc. Visual preference could have been called Graphic. Aural/Auditory learners prefer discussions, seminars, jokes, lectures, seminars, debates, conversations etc. They have preference for information that is heard or spoken. Read/write learners prefer textbooks, essays, taking notes, bibliography, manuals, web pages, readings and printed handouts. They like information displayed as words. Kinesthetic learners prefer examples, laboratories, field trips, role play, hands-on approaches, trial and error, solutions to problem, guest lectures, using their senses etc. They like learning through practice and experience. Individuals who do not have strong preference for any of above mentioned modes are called multimodal. They possess mixtures of preferences for learning styles [3].

According to Othman and Amiruddin (2010), the effectiveness of VARK model has been seen in a number of studies conducted worldwide. For instance, Piping (2005) conducted a study and proved that VARK learning style not only enhances students’ understanding but also raises learning motivation and interest among them. Prithard in 2005 observed that good learning depends on students’ learning style, and teaching materials used. Hence, the production of teaching materials needs to be heavily based on students’ learning styles.

From the results of study undertaken by Fleming in 1995, it has been discovered that the mode that is most commonly used in learning process is speech mode and this is represented as aural mode.

However, in a study conducted by Larry and Marie (2005), it was found that visual students are more prone to use text and graphic in multimedia element. Aural student prefer using text and graphic and also audio application in multimedia element. While kinesthetic students are more inclined to use text and graphic through assignments in which requires act or hands on work. That study also did a research on the tendency of students leaning style using senses on each mode [4].

References:

[1] Fleming, N., and Bauma, D. (2006). Learning styles again: VARKing up the right tree. Educational developments SEDA 7 (4), pp 4-7. Website address: http://www.johnsilverio.com/EDUI6702/Fleming_VARK_learningstyles.pdf

[2] Israa, M.A., Majid, T.M., Charles, D., Safaa, A.,  Hamzeh, Y.Y. (2008). Problem-based learning (PBL): Assessing students’ learning preferences using VARK. Nurse Education Today 28, 572–579. doi:10.1016/j.nedt.2007.09.012

[3] Hawk, T.F., and Shah, A.J. (2007). Using Learning Style Instruments to Enhance Student Learning. Wiley online library. doi: 10.1111/j.1540-4609.2007.00125.x. website address: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1540-4609.2007.00125.x/full

[4] Othman, N., and Amiruddin, M.H. (2010). Different Perspectives of Learning Styles from VARK Model. Procedia Socia and behavioral sciences, 7. Pp 652–660. doi:10.1016/j.sbspro.2010.10.088

[5] Steven K.K. Ng, Charles K.M. Chow, and David W.K. Chu. (2011). The Enhancement of Students’ Interests and Efficiency in Elementary Japanese Learning as a Second Language through Online Games with Special Reference to Their Learning Styles. Website address: http://link.springer.com/content/pdf/10.1007%2F978-3-642-22383-9_25.pdf