Out of all the learning theories in the world I have maybe encountered 2. And thats being particularly generous. The one that I have encountered and remembered is the VARK model. I didn’t really remember the name but for me, what was significant was the break down of how people learn and that stuck with me until now. The four learning styles are:
Visual – Learn through seeing, think in pictures and create mental pictures to retain information
Auditory – Learn through listening, think in words and learn best through group discussions/ lectures
Reading – A preference for written material in hand-outs and book ref
Kinaesthetic – learn through doing, express themselves through movement and interacting with others.
VARK uses a questionnaire to identify your strength at each of the styles and gives you a score. My own score was:
- Visual 6
- Auditory 7
- Read/Write 3
- Kinaesthetic 6
At first I noticed the lowest score being Reading, this seems appropriate, i tend to shy away from written text, articles and I find more comfort in the auditory style of learning which shows in my scores. Does this change how I teach by the way I learn? I already know it takes more effort on my part to produce written handouts and I do use a lot of templates to help get me started. Taking the test did reveal to me that I’m a teacher who leans toward group discussion and communication, and exploration through physical examples and interacting with others.
When I was a learner, the VARK model finally showed that there were other ways to learn and that the difficulties I had during my time at school may have been down to not having been given the option to explore a different way of learning. Now as a teacher and on the verge of writing and implementing a lesson plan, how does VARK impact on my work as a teacher?
Should I formally assess the students to discover their learning style according to the VARK model? Will this help identify a learner or simply but another label on the student? Could a conversation with the student reveal their preference to how they receive information, some may have learning agreements detailing this but many do not. Having analysed these questions I think the best course of action is to cover all the bases, make sure that there are no barriers to the learners journey.
Is this an applicable and successful model to follow?
To the student I work with I think it is applicable, if i look critically at which of the four we use in a Scenic Art environment:
Visual – We are a very visual department, the models and references the students work from on productions are all visual aides to guide the worker through their task. We also use video to provide guides for some tasks.
Auditory – Although lectures are in the minority of what is offered by PAD course, we often give plenty of verbal feedback during the course of every day. Group discussions are common and used to promote communication throughout the team.
Reading – The students have written hand-ins for every module that forms part of their mark and an online blog and written feedback is given on these and there performance on productions/ projects. In the department day to day we do use books as ref for projects, often these are visual books with picture accompanying the instructions.
Kinaesthetic – By nature of the subject the student has to explore and express themselves through doing, by picking up a brush, sponge or spray and freely markmaking. There are also lots of physical examples by the staff for the students to follow.
The VARK model successful in my context as it reminds the teacher that learning is accessible in many different ways and that the barriers in a learners journey may be the way the information is delivered. Because scenic art as a subject covers all of the styles, although reading is probably the lesser of the four I feel there is enough reading material for the students to look at, I feel VARK is best placed in my practice.
http://vark-learn.com/the-vark-questionnaire/ -The VARK Questionnaire | VARK, n.d.
http://vark-learn.com/introduction-to-vark/ – Introduction to VARK | VARK, n.d.