This section of my blog posts is focusing on Multi-Modal learning; what a teacher might want to focus on while delivering a lesson. When I was in school, everyone was labelled as a visual, auditory or kinesthetic learner, which may have encouraged teachers to differentiate a little bit, but it was still focused on only one way of learning. Below I have outlined the VAK theory.
The visual, auditory, kinesthetic learning styles model was developed by psychologists in the 1920s to help classify how most people learn. According to this model, most of us prefer to learn in one of three ways (visual, auditory or kinesthetic), although we usually mix and match the styles depending on what we are learning.
Visual – A visual learner retains the majority of the information learned when it is presented visually; using pictures, diagrams and charts for example.
Auditory – An auditory learner prefers to listen to what information is being presented. They respond best to voices they might hear in a lecture or group discussion. The learner repeating information back or delivering presentations themselves is also helpful.
Kinesthetic – A kinesthetic learning uses physical (or hands-on) experiences to learn. They respond well to being able to touch, manipulate and feel an object or learning prop.
An extension of the VAK theory was developed by Neil D. Fleming, who added reading/writing to make the new acronym VARK.
Reading/Writing – A reading or writing learner uses repetition of words and writing. There is clearly overlap with visual and auditory learning, but a learner who prefers to learn this way retains information best by going through the process of writing it down in order to read it later.
So What To Do?
While many learners can connect most of their learning to one of these methods of learning and retaining information, most learners are a combination of two or more. In education today, teachers are required to consider differentiation in their classrooms in order to reach the whole population rather than just the “end pins” (Shelley Moore on Differentiation).
Learners today are so stimulated by their environments, technology, emotions and events, that there is no clear distinction of different kinds of learners. Every student needs to have experienced each “type” of learning in order to realize how they learn best. Often it will be a combination of various skills.
If teachers get rid of the VA(R)K theory, then they are just teaching the student. Isn’t that we are supposed to be doing anyways? Shouldn’t teachers be catering and developing their own learning and teaching to fit the need of the classroom and it’s students?
Multi-Modal Learning answers these questions. By incorporating different methods of learning into the classroom and the teaching, every student has the opportunity to develop their learning skills and achieve a deeper understanding of the subject being taught. The point of this blog post was to show how many teachers still teach according to the VA(R)K theory. They stick students in a box where they tend to stay until the rare opportunity for self-discovery comes along. Students who get stuck in their box end up adapting the way their brains really work (in a variety of complex processes) to sticking with one method that “works” according to what their teacher, and the teachers before that, have decided “works best.
Multi-modal learning is so effective because it provides a basis for real-world situations, but where should this type of learning stop? That will be answered in the next post, based around Multi-modal communication.