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Learning Styles: The VARK Model

4. Nov 2016

Applications, Education,

Logic is defied when we encounter moments where children don’t learn from the best of teachers and others who learn even when being taught by teachers who are considered to be doing the wrong thing. Neil Fleming and Christopher Mills used that observation as the origin to investigate what really causes differential learning. They created a questionnaire with 16 questions that tackle a person’s learning behavior. From there, they move onto the identification of learning preferences each individual has and define a learning style. If we could only understand how people learn differently, we can provide more beneficial learning experiences. Do you know how you learn?

Why are learning styles relevant?

Why should we care about learning styles and their differences if we won’t be able to fulfill everyone’s needs anyhow? The point here lies in understanding ourselves as well as others. Only then can we create diversity that may help us learn in various ways and maximize efficiency through careful evaluation. Fleming’s VARK model only investigates a small part of the bigger topic of learning styles, and will therefore be referred to as learning preferences. 

What are the learning modalities?

The VARK model identifies 4 main learning preferences used for learning information, including: Visual, Aural, Read/Write, and Kinesthetic sensory.



Prefers information in graphical form (diagrams, symbols, charts)



Selects information in spoken form (listening and speaking, lectures)



Satisfied by information displayed as words (reading and note-taking)



Prefers information through experiences (tactile and hands-on activities)

However, it is often not so simple to fit ourselves into one single box. More often than not, our learning preferences consist of a combination of the modalities, which are called multi-modalities. These again may be differentiated into two types. Type 1 is context specific, relating to a person changing his or her style according to what is being learned. Type 2 regards others who may need input and output in various preferred modes, leading to extended learning periods. Type 2 may result in deeper understanding as they take their time to acquire information through different angles.

How valid is VARK?

As any model, VARK is not free of criticism. To counteract the danger of generalization, VARK only focuses on one dimension of the compound of preferences that compose a learning style.

How can we make use of it?

Identifying learning preferences according to the VARK model is a ‘short and simple inventory‘ that focuses on practicality and understanding. It therefore provides assistance to learn more effectively. The identified goals sound quite familiar, don’t they? The idea goes hand in hand with our design of the simpleshow. Using the mysimpleshow tool, you can create opportunities for a variety of learning styles that will improve and facilitate learning and provision of various preference modalities.