Learning Styles: The VARK Model

The VARK Model

Neil Fleming, a New Zealand educationalist, created the VARK model in 1987 as an educational preference model. This education model took into account a student’s preferred method of learning, with the goal of increasing their retention rates. The model consisted of a questionnaire that would determine the participant’s sensory modality when connected to learning new information. Based on the sensory modality, it could be determined which method of learning would create the intended outcome.

What is the VARK model?

Research concluded that there are four main sensory modalities (models of learning) in which students learn and retain information the best. VARK is an acronym, comprising the four main styles of learning. While research on this topic is typically used to determine the students main learning style, we have to understand that these four styles collectively makeup 100% of the learning environment. What that means for us as learners, is that there is not just one approach we fall into. We have the ability to learn from all of them, but they are weighted, with one showing as the strongest. More on this later.

Firstly, V is for visual learners. These are the subset of individuals who learn best when they can see the information displayed in front of them in a clear and concise way. They often learn best when given a visual aid such as a chart, graph, infographic or outline. 

Next, A is for auditory learners. This subset of individuals learn best by hearing the content being spoken to them. Examples of auditory education can be podcasts, verbal instructions, discussions, and recordings. 

Then, R is for read-write learners. Read/Write learners are a unique group because they have a two step process for information retention, while the others only have one. They need to both read the information, and then write down the information to truly internalize what they are reading. Examples of read/write educational tools consist of books (often with a highlighter or notebook handy), note taking from visual aids, and Case Studies in which they have to explain in their own words.

Lastly, K is for kinesthetic learners. You may have heard of kinesthetic learners before as tactile learners, or learners who learn based on touch. These individuals learn best when they are tasked with doing something. They often want to be shown how to do it, and then given the chance to complete the task on their own. These learners often learn best when put in role playing scenarios, situation training or with hands-on practice of a given subject.

Now that you understand the main differences between each learning style, we want to help you understand why we use the VARK Model. This will include why we find it valuable, but also how it has changed since being introduced in the late 1980’s. 

Why do we use the VARK model?

The VARK Model is truly the best educational model we have found to understand the way in which students retain information. Why we believe the VARK model is so valuable is based on who we are as a company. We believe that all students can learn, but not in the same environment or in the same way. We use the fundamental understanding of this learning model as the road map to create educational opportunities that maximize the benefit for everyone, regardless of their preferred style. 

What we have found is that by understanding the VARK model, we can predict the type of education that will work for a select population of students. When the VARK model was introduced, testing was conducted to determine that kinesthetic learning was the smallest subset of learners at the time, representing roughly 9% of students. Since then, we have seen that number skyrocket by upwards of 35% (and climbing). This new-found growth of kinesthetic learners has now firmly planted them as the main learning style. The hard part is that education has not caught up enough to fully embrace this change and provide all students the learning they need to understand and retain information. 

We use the VARK model as a framework to create educational experiences, tailoring lessons in a way that all students can benefit, versus in a traditional education setting, which primarily (not always) benefits the ‘VAR’ students more than the ‘K’ students. All of our lessons, courses and assets are designed from the top down using VARK model structures to make sure that everyone’s retention abilities are maximized throughout the entire process.

How does VARK help you?

As parents, you aren’t given a guide book on how everything works when you have children. A lot of it is trial and error. As we saw in 2020, a record number of parents overnight became homeschool teachers who maybe didn’t feel as prepared as they would have liked to teach their students. That is where the VARK model comes in.

If you can figure out what your student’s VARK learning style is, you can gear your approach to education in that direction. Let’s take it one step further. Remove education from it. If you can determine how your child retains information, knowing that if you are teaching them how to approach problems with a specific framework, and have data that validates it will help them better understand, wouldn’t you want to? The VARK model is about understanding how to create educational opportunities in a way that they will remember. Instead of getting mad that they aren’t listening, you can use this to get your point across in a way they will remember. Instead of being concerned that they aren’t “learning their lesson,” we can find ways to present the lesson to them in a way that makes sense in their brain. 

The point you should take away from this is that understanding your children’s learning style could be the first step to understanding how to effectively communicate with them. We do our part to teach valuable life skills through this approach to education, and we’ve seen the results. We are confident that the VARK model approach can help you too.

To complete the VARK model assessment, please visit: https://vark-learn.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/08/The-VARK-Questionnaire.pdf

more insights

What is Digital Access?

As we continue to evolve and adapt to the digital era, we’re excited to announce the transformation of our products into Digital Access formats. This

Read more >