The classrooms of today are highly diverse, encompassing students of varied learning styles who approach the learning content in a manner most suited to their needs. For educators, the comprehension of these distinguished learning styles has remained an area of great interest. VARK is one such tool that was perfected by Neil Fleming and Collen Mills in 1992 and is used to decide the preferences of sensory modalities in processing information. An acronym, VARK stands for visual, auditory, reading/writing, and kinesthetic (Espinoza-Poves, Miranda-Vílchez, & Chafloque-Céspedes, 2019). This paper aims to identify the preferred learning style of the author and draw a comparison between the current and preferred learning strategies. The paper further explores the impact of learning style awareness on teaching and learning along with its implication in health promotion.
Identified Learning Style
The VARK scores revealed the values of different modalities as visual: 8, aural: 5, read/write: 7, and kinesthetic: 5. The preferred learning style identified for me by this questionnaire is Multimodality which attributes learning to the process of making meaning not only through language transmission rather through varied modes such as gestures, images, movement, music, and sounds (Kaminski, 2019). According to VARK, the individuals with multimodal learning style have multiple preferences which are quite varied. My results indicate that although the learning style is multimodal, however, there is a stronger preference for visual and reading/writing modalities. Due to this bimodal disposition, my preferred learning style designates optimal learning through visual cues such as drawing things, organizing information in charts, graphs, and diagrams, using color codes to create layouts and designs, and engaging with presenters who use gestures along with descriptive language. My preferred learning style also specifies reading/ writing modality that encompasses the use of lists and ordering content into categories, arranging words into hierarchies, associating meaning to headings and titles, correcting errors, and preferring clarity of text (VARK Learn Limited, 2021).
Comparison of Current and Identified Learning Strategies
An evaluation of my ideal learning approaches and the acknowledged strategies is quite similar. The strategies currently employed by me while taking in information are the use of visuals such as pictures, posters, presentation slides, and books with diagrammatical representations. To retain information, I have always found the use of flowcharts most helpful and preferred organizing content in a visually appealing manner through the use of highlighters, different colors, underling important text while reading and translating data tables into graphs. All these strategies match those identified through VARK. Although the reading/ writing modality identifies reading of books that are dense with text, my current preference differs, and the use of lists, bullets, numbered paragraphs, headings and titles, are the most helpful strategies for learning. Another strategy most often used to retain information is writing verbatim notes (VARK Learn Limited, 2021).
Impact of Learning Styles on Teaching and Learning
Individuals learn through varied means and comprehension of these diverse learning styles is imperative to create a conducive learning relationship between the learners and the teacher. Acceptability of individual differences instills flexibility in teachers’ methodology intending to accommodate the learning needs of all students. It is imperative that teachers not only have an awareness of their learners’ learning styles but also have an insight into their own dominant preferred strategies of learning. The likelihood of a self-aware teacher adopting a student-centered methodology is much more than an unaware educator. Determination of the learning styles makes it easier for an educator to build, alter and develop a more effective curriculum. Furthermore, it motivates learners to participate in such programs and encourages them to expand their professional knowledge. A teacher can, therefore, ensure effective learning by knowing the learning styles of the students. Preferred learning styles influence learning and academic achievement by explaining the process through which students make meaning and find solutions to problems (İlçin, Tomruk, Yeşilyaprak, Karadibak, & Savcı, 2018). The impact of students’ awareness of their learning style can enrich and improve their learning experiences; they also learn to appreciate the diverse ways in which they learn. However, teachers must provide learning experiences that do not bound students rather enable them to use mixed methodology for optimal academic achievement. A combination of awareness and guidance can aid students in enhancing their learning outcomes (Bhagat, Vyas, & Singh, 2015; Muluk, Habiburrahim, & Rech, 2020).
Health Promotion and Learning Styles
The understanding of learning styles in health promotion can lead to the attainment of desired outcomes as self-aware individuals can create rich learning experiences and engage consciously with their peers and content. Since medical sciences and health promotion requires the retention of vast knowledge, therefore gaining an understanding of the preferred learning style and employing best-suited strategies can result in improved outcomes as compared to traditional methods. Since mindfulness of learning styles enables teachers to modify strategies, it further influences the learning behavior of students (Bokhari & Zafar, 2019). The dominant learning style may ultimately influence the study behavior. This concept is well reflected in an example of some students’ preferring individual study while others thriving in a competitive environment (Asci, Kulac, Sezik, Cankara, & Cicek, 2016).
Accommodation of diverse learning styles merits teacher’s success. In health promotion, various strategies can be implemented to accommodate the learners while ensuring optimal learning and retention. Creating student-centered classrooms that utilize appropriate visual cues in the form of diagrams, presentations, charts, and graphs and providing the learners with an opportunity to engage with the content through listening and discussion can ensure engagement. In health promotion especially, the importance of learning by doing is quite central. Creating opportunities where learners can apply what they have learned through audio-visuals and reading can provide a holistic learning experience thereby increasing the outcomes achieved.
Asci, H., Kulac, E., Sezik, M., Cankara, F. N., & Cicek, E. (2016). The effect of learning styles and study behavior on success of preclinical students in pharmacology. Indian Journal of Pharmacology, 48(1), 15-20.
Bhagat, A., Vyas, R., & Singh, T. (2015). Students awareness of learning styles and their perceptions to a mixed method approach for learning. International Journal of Applied and Basic Medical Research, 5(1), 58-65.
Bokhari, N. M., & Zafar, M. (2019). Learning styles and approaches among medical education participants. Journal of Education and Health Promotion, 8(181).
Espinoza-Poves, J. L., Miranda-Vílchez, W. A., & Chafloque-Céspedes, R. (2019). The Vark learning styles among university students of business schools. Propósitos y Representaciones, 7(2), 384-414.
İlçin, N., Tomruk, M., Yeşilyaprak, S. S., Karadibak, D., & Savcı, S. (2018). The relationship between learning styles and academic performance in TURKISH physiotherapy students. BMC Medical Education, 18(291).
Kaminski, A. (2019). Young learners’ engagement with multimodal texts. ELT Journal, 73(2), 175-185.
Muluk, S., Habiburrahim, H., & Rech, S. (2020). Students’ awareness and perception towards learning styles. Jurnal Ilmiaj Didaktika, 20(2), 143-164.
VARK Learn Limited. (2021). VARK: a guide to learning preferences. Retrieved from Multimodal Strategies: https://vark-learn.com/strategies/multimodal-strategies/