The VARK model
In 1992 Flemming and Mills suggested four modalities that defined an individuals learning experience. VARK is an acronym created by New Zealand teacher and lecturer Neil Flemming. V stands for visual, A stands for Aural, R stands for Read(write) and K stands for Kinesthetic. Kinesthetic refers to sensory systems within your body that are used to help you learn and remember information,typically by performing an action or gaining an experience. An example of this would be burning your hand on the stove, the next time you’re around a stove you’d be more aware and alert of the possible danger of burning your hand, helping you to remember that the stove can be a dangerous area. Kinesthetic learning is primarily how your physiological make up allows you to learn important information. We will cover ways to improve each aspect of your learning based on the VARK model and also how each modality can effect your learning experience.
The Visual learner (V):
The visual type of learning is the first of the 4 types of learning styles covered by the VARK model, this will therefore implement different types of learning skills and be beneficial for children who are visual learners. Visual learning is the most common form of learning we have in the modern world today, we learn from videos, apps pictures, animated infographics and a range of other useful modern learning methods that we have available, however the VARK models definition of visual learning is not defined by pictures or videos but specifically by the visualisation of information such as maps, charts, graphs, a variety diagrams (spider, labelled) and infographics. This is the kind of learning that requires less effort from the learner compared to the other learning forms described in the VARK model however to get the most out of visual learning more concentration is required, that’s why implementing an interactive visual learning method that is engaging for learners is one of the best ways to teach a visual learner.
A visual learner learns best by visualising information rather than reading or writing it down, a colourful bar chart to show how the atmospheric temperature has risen over the last 50 years, instead of the written list or a detailed map to show what regions around the world have experienced an increase in flooding over the last 20 years, could help a visual learner to understand the impact climate change is having around the world, what areas around the world are most effected, the rate of increase in climate change, the visual learner could then make a logical decision based on a simple question, such as, is climate change getting worse or better?
A basic explanation giving the learner the understanding that a higher atmospheric temperature and more frequent flooding is a negative thing would need to be given for them to answer this question properly.
How you can use the Visual aspect of the VARK model to help your teaching
So it’s clear providing a visual learning experience to help students understand and learn information, at school, at home or online. Here’s a list of ways you can implement a visual learning experience for learners:
1. Using Charts and Graphs for visual learning
Charts and graphs are a great way to represent numerical data and help learners understand the impact of something. For example, if you know bushfires have increased by 15, from 1 to 16 over a 365 day period. A bar chart would be a much better way to show a visual learner the true impact this increase means and that although 15 is a small number, the increase is really large given that this area only had 1 bushfire a year.Charts and graphs also help visual learners understand the scale of something, if we continue from our bushfire example, if the first bushfire has an area of 100m2 and the new 16 bushfires had an area of 1000m2 each, the learner could understand that the fires are becoming more frequent and larger, so the severity of the crisis could be quickly understood by the learner.
2. Using diagrams for visual learning
Diagrams can help visual learners to understand complex information or even help non-visual learners understand information that could be hard to process in your head. A great example of this is a level 9 GCSE maths question, asking you to find the equation of a straight line crossing through a circle on a graph.
3. Using infographics for visual learning
Infographics are a great way to help learners understand information quickly, when accompanied by a body of text, infographics can be a very useful method of learning however it has limitations when trying to learn detailed or complex information.
4. Using patterns for visual learning
Patterns are an interesting way of learning however we use patterns more than you’d think, a typical example of a pattern is your normal week, you go to work, come home, sleep, wake-up and generally so the same things each week, this is a learned social pattern with small breaks given by the government or your employer during different times of the year.
A pattern we use in learning would be times tables, learning your abc, learning how to count, learning how to break down words to form or spell a larger word.More specifically for visual learning patterns there would be the implementation of objects that are placed in a certain order or coloured in a certain way to help the learner understand the information in a better way.
Non VARK model based visual learning methods
5. Using pictures for visual learning
Pictures are also a great way to visualise and remember information, pictures also help people to understand the impact something has had, which also helps us to remember that topic better, pictures are also stimulating, as they have to be analysed and the more memorable the picture is the more we remember it, I’m sure you’ve seen a picture that you’d never forget. If so, imagine how much the use of pictures can help us to learn new information and how pictures can be implemented into learning. Pictures also present as a type of truth as it’s proof what we’re learning is true in essence and this also helps us to remember it better. This also proves true in events such as fake news, when technology has been used to make a picture appear true, although the face or background of a picture has been changed.
6. Using videos for visual learning
Using videos for learning is a great way to help someone who may get bored easily or does not have the general inclination to learn, videos can be very interactive and allow learners to learn in way that was previously unavailable, not only does the internet allow anyone with knowledge of a skill to upload a video to help others learn but learning videos also come in many different forms, such as stories, explanatory videos, animations and tutorials.
The Auditory Learner(A):
Auditory learning is the second personal learning style described in the VARK model and helps us understand key learning styles of students. The auditory learner typically receives information heard or spoken better than other types of learners. Learners who appear to benefit from one to one discussion or group discussion, verbal communication, listening to the radio or a podcast, lectures or seminars, tend to fall into the learning category of an auditory learner. Some people include emails in auditory learning however we don’t because although there are some auditory aspects in emails, they are not specifically an auditory learning style and therefore will not be included in this section.
Auditory learning also requires less effort and is widely used amongst learners who have a partial or full visual impairment which would mean their ability to see would be reduced to the point where it would badly effect their learning, auditory learning is also good for learners and students who become easily distracted and can be used in conjunction with visual learning to provide a more engaging learning experience, auditory learning is very effective because just like visual learning it can evoke emotion and help us to remember things in a better way. The use of song in learning is a typical example where a lot of songs are used to help young learners remember how to count, remember their abc and times tables.
The most effective way auditory learning is implemented today would be via the use of repetition, repeating information via listening over and over again will eventually help you to remember the information, an example of this could be a song you like, listening to that song every day for 10 days would help you remember most of the songs content, if you did this with a scientific principal or process, times table or maths equation, fact or anything else, it would have a similar effect, even if it wasn’t as engaging as a song, simply because it’s being repeated so much, you’d remember the key elements of what you were listening to.
How you can use the Auditory aspect of the VARK model to help your teaching
So it’s clear providing an auditory learning experience to help students understand and learn information, at school, at home or online. Here’s a list of ways you can implement an auditory learning experience for learners:
1. Using Song for auditory learning
As previously mentioned, playing a song is a great way to help someone learn new information, it can be put on repeat so the repetition of the song will help increase the amount that is learnt. The more stimulating and engaging the song is the more likely the leaner is to learn the key information you want them to remember from that song.
2. Using Podcasts for auditory learning
Podcast can be useful for the discussion element most podcast usual contain and the fact they are more like having a discussion that being lectured, podcast can also be put on repeat just like a song can and is a great way to learn new information that needs to be explained.
3. Using the Radio for auditory learning
The radio is great as it can offer an alternative view point to topics you may have only had one view point on, the discussion element of radio talk shows can help those who learn best by discussion and communication remember the information that’s being relayed. There’s various auditory stimulus in the radio that means a person may hear several voices, each voice creates a different stimulus to the auditory leaner and help them to remember the information or become more engaged with what’s being said.
4. Using discussion for auditory learning
Having a one to one or group discussion can help an auditory leaner gain a basic understanding of new information, this is particularly useful when trying to understand complex information that wouldn’t necessarily be interpret this upon first glance.
The Reading/writing learner (R):
Reading and writing is one of the most common and learning methods used widely around the world today, it’s a very traditional method of learning and it requires the highest level of concentration out of all the learning methods.
The reading and writing learning methods require a high amount of participation from the learner as the learner has to do the following:
– Read the new information- Understand the key points of the new information and the overall point this information is making- Write down the key points and the summarise the information- Write down the key points several times until you can write it down without having to look back at the information.The process of reading and writing focuses on repetition and understanding, you may need to read the information several times before you can understand the information and remember the key points.
Why reading and writing is used so much as the primary way to learn
Professionals who we need to do important everyday tasks need to read and write to understand their task and write reports, this could include doctors and engineers for example. You wouldn’t want them to read something wrong and risk lives, so in professions such as this you can understand reading and writing is a very important task. For the everyday function of things such as running a shop, business, football club or just about anything, the skill of reading and writing is required and people that are very good at reading information, understanding what the information is trying to say and being able to remember it or comment on it, in a clear and professional way, get paid a lot of money in their job. It’s no wonder why people use reading and writing as the standard method of learning for many students.
Reading and writing is also one of the cheapest ways to learn as it doesn’t require anything but a pen, paper and book. It doesn’t have any long term complications such as eye damage from starring at a screen all day from watching videos or other visual learning forms.
Word documents, lists, reports, manuals, recipes, essays, dictionaries and the internet are all ways a person who likes to read and write can learn very quickly and they each offer a unique learning method.
The Kinesthetic leaner (K): Kinesthetic
The Kinesthetic learner typically learns by taking part in a physical activity, this type of learning covers how experience and practice can help leaners remember new information. This type of learning experience can be real or simulated, many pilots undergo simulator training before flying a plane, although they aren’t flying a real plane, the simulation of flying a plane helps them to remember the new information.
A kinesthetic learner will benefit more from doing rather than watching someone demonstrate something and will be able to make an error, understand where they went wrong and do it again to get it right. (writing a maths equation, driving a car)Although the VARK model is a widely used model to describe different types of learning styles, with new research and understanding many educators and learners now understand there are several key learning styles visual learning, aural learning. Verbal learning, physical learning, logical learning, social learning and solitary learning, many of these learning styles overlap or have similarities to the VARK learning model discussed in previous section.
The different learning styles below and how you can implement each one: What are the different types of learning styles?
Visual learning (Spatial learning)The use of picture, images, chart and spatial learning to understand and learn new information, this learning style requires less concentration than traditional learning styles.
Visual learning is common amongst younger learners and useful for helping engage learners who may be less interested in learning.
Pros of visual learning
Visual learning is more engaging than traditional learning methods- Useful for students with photographic memory or learners who don’t have a strong understanding of English or their national language.- Can help people with different languages understand the same information.- Visual learning is useful for giving someone a basic level of understanding on a topic.- Visual learning is useful for understanding the scale and impact of something.- Visual learning is useful for helping students understand how an element has changed over time.- Visual learning can be used to help students with learning difficulties, who may not be able to understand numerical information easily.- Pictures can be places in areas when the child is not learning such as a bedroom, increasing the frequency of their visual learning experience.
Cons of visual learning
– You may miss out key parts of information- It gives a general overview and isn’t that detailed.- It can be miss interpreted without proper understanding.- Content requires more resources and effort from the teacher.- Needs to be given in conjunction with another learning from such as auditory learning.
Examples of how you can use visual learning to teach your child
Using visual learning to teach your child maths- Pictures of times tables and numbers- Pictures of equations- Pictures of fractions- Pictures of memorable maths symbols, +, X, /, –
Using visual learning to help your child with English
Pictures of keywords like connectives, and, but, also, because- Pictures of Nouns, verbs, adverbs- Pictures of short sentences- Pictures memorable word.
The use of music and song to understand and learn new information, this learning style requires almost no voluntary concentration and you can learn by repetition alone. Visual learning is common amongst younger learners and useful for helping engage learners who may be less interested in learning.
What Are The 7 Different Types of Learning Styles?
Visual(Spacial)Aural (Auditory-Musical)Verbal (Linguistic)Physical (Kinesthetic)Logical (Mathematical)Social (InterpersonalSolitary (Intrapersonal)
Are future posts will cover these learning forms and how to implement them:
Aural (Auditory-Musical) …Verbal (Linguistic) …Physical (Kinesthetic) …Logical (Mathematical) …Social (Interpersonal) …Solitary (Intrapersonal)