The VARK Questionnaire: How Do I Learn Best?
How does one determine the dominant way of perceiving information? For this question, the Internet will give a number of different tests. The most common and popular system for determining the types of students is VARK. It was invented by a teacher from new Zealand, Neil Fleming in 1987. In our harsh and information-crowded time, this model is used to understand which type of learner a person is, and, accordingly, what method of learning suits him or her the best. According to the VARK model, people are classified by the channels through which they best perceive information — visual (photos, movies, charts), aural (music, conversations, lectures), read/write (making lists, reading textbooks, essays), or kinesthetic (hands-on approaches, practicals, laboratories).
The student with the read/write learning preference is primarily interested in learning materials in text form. She thinks reading a textbook is a great way to get new information and likes when professors use handouts. Such a student writes notes during classroom sessions or while reading books. She makes lists, searches for definitions and likes creating presentations in PowerPoint. The student with the kinesthetic learning preference better perceives information with the help of tactile sensations; she likes to touch what she is learning. Practical experience for this type of person is of special importance. She likes to perform tasks that involve working directly with objects and materials. The “go back to the laboratory or your lab manual” principle is often used in the practice (VARK, 2018).
Despite the criticism and lack of empirical data in support of the VARK model, it remains quite popular among both students and teachers. Many students immediately understand what style is closest to them. Others may find that their preferences are not limited to one style. For example, a person may have a strong preference for read/write and kinesthetic learning strategies, or visual, aural, and read/write strategies, or aural, read/write, and kinesthetic strategies. Some people cannot clearly identify the propensity to a particular learning strategy, because the points scored in three different modalities are almost the same, for example, a student can get the following points: visual strategy – 4, aural strategy – 11, read/write – 13 and kinesthetic strategy – 13. If the person cannot determine the modality of her style of cognition absolutely precisely, then she most likely belongs to the multimodal style. For example, the person is equally good at memorizing information by reading the text and making notes as well as relying on kinesthetic perception while performing different manipulations. This means this student has the multimodal read/write and kinesthetic learning preferences. At the same time, the person can claim that she is able to adapt to any of these two modalities when required. If the teacher has a tendency to use the read/write learning strategy, then the student switches to this modality in the process of learning new information. While aligning learning strategies according to the style of learning may or may not be effective, students themselves may find that understanding their style can be very useful. For example, if the person knows that the read/write representation of information is best for her, using text materials in combination with certain learning methods can help her better remember the information she is learning or at least make learning a subject more enjoyable.
Peyman states “using VARK questionnaire to recognize preferred learning styles of students is a key approach which can be used to increase the quality of teaching and learning process” (2014). The perception of information by a person is an acquaintance with phenomena and objects through their impact on various senses. Analyzing the result of the impact of an object or situation on the organs of vision, hearing, smell, taste and touch, a person gets a certain idea about them. Thus, the basis in the process of perception of information are these five senses. At the same time the person’s past experience and previously acquired knowledge are actively involved in perception. Turning to them, the person can refer the information obtained to the already known phenomena or distinguish from the general mass into a separate category. Perception and presentation of information are strictly linked. Each professor tries to choose the option of presenting data that will provide the best understanding of it. It is very important to know what type of perception of information is dominant for the person, and what it is characterized by. This greatly improves mutual understanding between people and makes it possible to quickly and fully convey the necessary information to the person (Kharb, 2013).