Linda A. Rivers

April 2005


A Learning Style


            Imagine being in a classroom feeling as though, you are completely lost.  The professor is at the chalkboard just writing away and for some reason you are not retaining the information. The professor asks, “Does anyone not understand?” but you are afraid to raise your hand. You walk away feeling defeated and totally lost.

            Neil Fleming, an education consultant with Lincoln International University in New Zealand, also is the creator and one of the co-authors who developed the VARK.  Mr. Fleming has been teaching for forty years, facilitating active workshops on a variety of topics traveling to North America and Europe in the spring and fall.  VARK means Visual, Aural, Read/Write and Kinesthetic, profile preferences of how individuals take in and put out information in a learning context.  For instance, Visual learners require pictures, videos, posters and slides.  Aural learners.  Read/Write learners may need to rewrite information received or reread it whereas the Kinesthetic learner may need hand on training or real-life examples. This is technically not a learning style; although it could be considered a style important to people giving them a chance to maybe change the way they learn.  For instance, if you’re aware of the particular way you learn, it could help you absorb more information or quite possibly change the way you study.  Note, VARK is not a permanent profile; it can change as the individual changes.  For instance, you tend to be able to absorb information and retain it this could be considered Read/Write, whereas you might fall in the category of Kinesthetic, needing hand-on training. In taking the VARK questionnaire, my profile preference determined that I was a Multimodal with learning strength in the Read/Write and Kinesthetic.  This was very helpful in determining how I input and output information given to me.  For instance, my math class has been a great challenge this semester to the point I was thinking of dropping out, because I was not getting what was being taught.  Multimodal learning, allows me to be flexible in the way that I learn; often times I may need to rewrite information or practice it several times.  As a Read/Write learner, I may have to organize things into a statement.  Kinesthetic learning, helps me to understand often times I need hands-on approaches and trial and error, instead of just reading or writing the information.

            VARK helped me understand that hands on and maybe trial and error are my style of learning which the Kinesthetic.  For example, being a nurse and learning a variety of things through reading becomes boring at times, actually being able to do the task enables me to retain the information better.  For instance, in taking patients blood pressure, just reading the numbers will not tell me exactly what to look for.  Applying the cuff to the patients arm and visually seeing the reading will allow me to understand. Kinesthetic study strategies showed me steps on how to become a better student, by making things into a learnable package. VARK states, in nursing, where students are more likely to exhibit Kinesthetic preferences.  Graphic designers and computer systems students are stronger on Visual.  Also, note that these preferences are not fixed and unchanging.  Some learners maintain their profile in the short term (say, a year) your profile may change a little.

            VARK is a questionnaire that provides users with a profile of their preferences.  These preferences are about the ways that they want to take-in and give-out information whilst learning. Each profile can allow you to be aware of your style of learning, to maintain informational requirements as a student.