The selection of learning strategies is a significant step in the process of education because it is decisive for the success of the learning process as well as students’ performance. People have diverse learning preferences and demonstrate different performance with the use of preferred strategies. Some individuals need to see the object to remember it and thus are more successful with visual strategies, and others prefer touching as the way to learn an object, thus applying kinesthetic strategies. Timely definition of preferable strategies of the group of learners is expected to improve their performance and result in successful learning. Learning preferences can be identified with the help of tests and questionnaires. One of these tools is the VARK Questionnaire, the use of which is analyzed in this paper.
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Learning Style Summary
The results of the VARK Questionnaire reveal a multimodal learning preference. The highest scores belong to kinesthetic learning (6 points), an almost equal result is for visual strategies (5 points), and lower rates are revealed for reading/write (3 points) and aural strategies (2 points). The highest result for kinesthetic strategies implies the use of senses, practical exercises, examples, cases, trials, and errors to learn something (“Kinesthetic strategies,” 2018). These strategies presuppose the following ways of information intake. Thus, all the senses are used including sight, taste, touch, smell, and hearing.
Such interventions as field trips, laboratories, hands-on approaches are expected to be effective. As for the visual strategies that are also important, they imply symbolism and different formats, fonts, and colors to focus on some particular aspects. To take in the information with visual strategies, an individual prefers pictures, videos, slides, and posters. The lecturers applying passionate language and gestures are more effective with such learners. Finally, all types of graphs, diagrams, and symbols are beneficial for these learners. Still, read/write and aural strategies can be also successful for some types of assignments. On the whole, multimodal learning preference means that an individual is expected to be most successful in the case of multiple strategies application.
Preferred Learning Strategies
Speaking about personal learning preferences, the following ones can be mentioned. Thus, the most preferable are visual strategies, followed by kinesthetic ones. Also, writing and reading strategies should be included, but they are not as effective as visual and kinesthetic and are used less frequently.
Preferred vs Identified Learning Strategies
The strategies identified by an individual and those determined by the VARK Questionnaire almost coincide. The slight difference is in the order of mentioning them. Thus, according to the questionnaire, kinesthetic strategies tend to be more effective. It means that the person needs to try everything to remember it better. This strategy implies that all of the senses can be used for cognition because they provide multi-dimensional information which is easier to remember. Therefore, for such learners, every chance of real-life experience or practical application should be used. As for the preference for visual strategies, it includes all types of visual support such as diagrams, charts, graphs, etc. the combination of these strategies is expected to prepare a successful learner.
Impact of Learning Styles, Preferences, and Strategies on Teaching and Learning
Knowledge of individual learning styles is important because they have a strong impact on the academic performance of learners. Moreover, preferred learning strategies influence teaching as well as learning. Thus, a cross-sectional study by Kharb, Samanta, Jindal, and Singh (2013) reveals that most of the first-year medical students (61%) demonstrate multimodal VARK preferences. It means that they can use different strategies to learn successfully. Within this cohort, almost a half (41%) prefer bimodal modes of perceiving the information while there are also individuals with trimodal and quadrimodal models (Kharb et al., 2013). Another group (39%) of experiment participants demonstrate a unimodal learning preference.
These preferences have an impact on the teaching methodology. For example, practical classes are mentioned as preferable by 39% of students (Kharb et al., 2013). An important finding of this study is that the effectiveness cannot be achieved through a single approach. Nevertheless, the study by Ojeh et al. (2017) did not reveal any associations of learning styles with academic performance. This research proved for many students, there were significant differences in perceived and assessed learning style preferences. It means that many learners cannot evaluate their preferences and thus can be less effective than they can be. Still, the majority of students are aware of their learning style preferences. This information can be applied by teachers to select appropriate teaching strategies.
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To summarizing, it should be mentioned that the definition of the preferred learning strategies is a significant component of the educational process. Considering the fact that the quality of knowledge the student gets is a primary goal of education, the awareness of students’ preferences can contribute to developing teaching strategies that meet the needs and preferences of students. Therefore, the defined learning style preferences determine the choice of teaching strategies thus contributing to the improvement of students’ performance and increase in their involvement in the educational process.
Kharb, P., Samanta, P.P., Jindal, M., & Singh, V. (2013). The learning styles and the preferred teaching–learning strategies of first year medical students. Journal of Clinical and Diagnostic Research, 7(6), 1089-1092.
Oleh, N., Sobers-Grannum, N., Gaur, U., Udupa, A., & Majumder, A. A. (2017). Learning style preferences: A study of pre-clinical medical students in Barbados. Journal of Advances in Medical Education and Professionalism, 5(4), 185-194.
Kinesthetic strategies. (2018). Web.