VAK Learning (Visual, Auditory, Kinesthetic)

VAK Learning (Visual, Auditory, Kinesthetic)

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Term2.png VAK Learning (Visual, Auditory, Kinesthetic)
VAK is a popular pedagogical approach centred on the uses of three main sensory receivers: Visual, Audio, Kinesthetic (movement) to determine the dominant learning style of an individual. It was originally devised in the 1920s to assist teaching children with dyslexia. Subsequently, this has been more widely applied and its relevance established.[1]

The human brain has evolved to operate and develop in a multisensory environment and we are programmed to process multisensory signals. Inputs, that are multisensory, provide different hooks for retrieving information allowing faster learning and improved recall. According to VAK theory, one or two of our sensory receivers are dominant, suggesting that learners have a natural preference for the way they learn. As such, there is an argument for matching teaching with learning styles to enhance the learning process, enabling trainers to address the needs of learners in a more efficient way. Yet, one style of learning may not always be the same for some tasks. Moreover, as the theory has evolved research has come to support the application of a range of activities during instruction to that of a single learning style: the learner may prefer one style of learning for one task, and a combination for a different task. The core value of the VAK learning theory is the enabling of people to think in terms of different representational systems. By combining different teaching methods and thinking about the different ways in which we process information, trainers can start to develop a multisensory learning environment. Rather than tailoring instructional techniques to each individual, a combination of simultaneous stimuli will enable a learning group to improve their retrieval, storage and interpretation of information.


Contents

Learning Styles

Following is a brief description of different learning styles:
Learning Style Brief Description
Visual There is an argument for two different types of visual learner:
  • Visual-linguistic
    • Learners like to learn by writing things down in their own words
  • Visual-Spatial
    • Learners understand better with the use of mind maps, symbolic representations, and drawings to depict views on reality and history
    • Learners tend to remember faces and places by using their imagination, seldom getting lost in new surroundings
Auditory
  • Learners engage better during lecture discussion
  • Learners respond to story-telling
  • Learners often talk to themselves, and read out loud
  • Learners may find it helpful to: tape lectures and listen later; listen to a podcast of a recorded lecture/programme; have discussions with other learners; tutor other students to reinforce learning; participate in group discussions
Kinesthetic
  • Learners learn best by doing things such as taking a walk while they are studying information
  • Learners do well in a hands-on environment
  • Learners underline or highlight texts with different colours
  • Learners respond to photographic images, movies, videos, and YouTube clips
  • Learners enjoy role-play scenarios


Toolkit.png Activities and Tools to support VAK Learning

VAK Learning for different learners

Note to instructors: You have the opportunity to try out all kinds of activities to reach the preferred learning styles of all learners

Visual learners

  • Provide lots of written materials, and give exercises that require writing and note taking
  • Use visuals and graphics to present and organize information (charts, graphs, post-it notes, posters, flash-cards, diagrams, illustrations, pictures, coloured pens and paper, mind-maps, spidergrams)
  • Write key words on flip chart paper and ask learners to write responses
  • Invite visual learners to be group recorders

Auditory learners

  • Best way to teach an auditory learner is to say it; state the information
  • Ask learners to describe specific information
  • Provide discussion periods for learners
  • Encourage questions and foster small group participation
  • Use auditory activities (brainstorming, buzz groups, debriefing, reading out loud, oral revisions, stories, anecdotes, jokes, rhymes, jingles, rap, poems, songs)
  • Audio streaming is an option in web-based environments

Kinesthetic learners

  • Plan activities that make learners move (group work, role-plays, field trips)
  • Initiate activities that make learners use their hands (move and organize post-its, highlight text, make models, transfer text from one medium to an other)
  • Encourage underlining and highlighting key words and taking notes
  • Put theory into practice
  • Provide real-life simulation situations
  • Use lots of examples, case studies, and ways of application
  • Build-in planned physical breaks[2]


Model of VAK Learning

Job Aid

Pdf.png Activities and Tools to Support VAK Learning


Link icon.png Web Resources
Link Content
Teaching Strategies: Learning Styles (Video, 5 mins) Tips for teachers on how to engage learners with different learning styles.
Self-assessment VARK: An online questionnaire allowing learners to identify their preferred learning style(s).

References

  1. [City and Guilds, Centre for Skills Development “Understanding the VAK model and its application” by Nick Grist (2009) http://www.skillsdevelopment.org.uk/knowledge_portal/e-zine/autumn_2009/the_vak_model.aspx..
  2. Learning Skills & Development Agency: Learning Styles & their application for effective learning http://www.itslifejimbutnotasweknowit.org.uk/files/LearningStyles.pdf (12 August 2011), http://www.skillsdevelopment.org.uk/emailnews/autumn2009/article/article-understanding.html (12 August 2011), http://www.brainboxx.co.uk/a3_aspects/pages/VAK.htm (12 August 2011), http://www.nwlink.com/~donclark/hrd/styles/vakt.html (12 August 2011)