“Learning” is often thought about as a school-related task. Writing papers, studying for tests and listening to lectures all require you to learn something. But learning goes far beyond the classroom — it’s an integral part of our daily lives.
How you learn is a different matter. Do you prefer writing things down? Do you work through problems by talking aloud? Is it easier to learn a new skill by demonstration? Or is it better for someone to give you instructions? The answers to these questions and more all relate to the four VARK learning modalities. VARK is an acronym that stands for Visual, Aural/Auditory, Read/Write and Kinesthetic. Each of these four modalities represent the four most common methods of learning.
Curious to see which modality you fall into? Listed below are descriptions for each modality and common effective learning traits to help pinpoint where your learning style lands.
V for Visual
Visual learners prefer to see information rather than to read or to listen. They work best when given information that’s illustrated in graphs, charts and diagrams. Maslow’s hierarchy of needs is an excellent example of visually displayed information: the pyramid structure displays the ascension of needs from universal to emotional, and it conveys that the upward movement is dependent upon meeting each need in order.
Another important visual learning aspect is body language. Visual learners tend to “read” other people by their body language. This can be immensely helpful the next time you need to have an important discussion at work — try to have it in person versus on the phone or over email to fully utilise your learning skills.
A is for Aural/Auditory
Aural learners are at their best when hearing information. Things like group discussions, brainstorming out loud and verbal directions are all examples of preferred, aural learning methods. When it comes to problem solving, auditory-inclined learners tend to talk things through out loud (versus collating their thoughts through writing).
If you’re an aural learner, it could be helpful to let your work colleagues know that you prefer in person discussions instead of talking via an instant messaging system. Using communication methods that complement your learning style can make your work life much more productive.
R is for Read/Write
You’ve probably taken notes at some point in your life. But if reading wasn’t your learning style of choice, all that note-taking may have felt like drudgery!
Reading/writing learners much prefer using text to understand their tasks at hand. That’s why things like note-taking, making lists, jotting down meeting minutes and any other activity that documents something in writing work best for them. If you’re a reader/writer kind of learner, text — like online articles, newspapers, books — and documentation are key to putting your best learning foot forward.
K is for Kinesthetic
Kinesthetic learners are eager for hands-on experiences. If you’re someone who prefers to try something out for yourself instead of reading about it or listening to instructions, you probably fall under the kinesthetic modality.
Part of the “hands-on” learning approach has to do with tangibility: “The key is the reality or concrete nature of the example. If it can be grasped, held, tasted, or felt it will probably be included.”1 It’s all about the process of physically engaging with the task at hand, like learning to cut a pomegranate or budgeting via the envelope method. The next time you find yourself learning something new, figure out how you can make it tangible — it will make the process more effective for your kinesthetic learning style.
Remember, the VARK model is just that: a model. That means you don’t necessarily have to fit one specific learning modality. Maybe you like taking notes but also find verbal instructions helpful. Or perhaps you like trying things out for yourself but learn equally as well from visually displayed information. That would make you a multimodal learner!
Whatever your learning modality may be, the important takeaway is understanding the methods by which you learn best, and implementing them into your day-to-day life.
1n.a. (n.d.). The VARK modalities. Retrieved 08 December 2018, from http://vark-learn.com/introduction-to-vark/the-vark-modalities/
2Judeh, N. (13 September 2017). Do you know what kind of learner you are? Retrieved 08 December 2018, from https://www.poundstopocket.co.uk/pound-place/kind-learner-you-are/
3Nakano, C. (29 April 2016). The four different types of learners, and what they mean to your presentations. Retrieved 08 December 2018, from https://blog.prezi.com/the-four-different-types-of-learners-and-what-they-mean-to-your-presentations-infographic/
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