Available literature demonstrates that students use different styles, strategies, and preferences to receive and process information in learning contexts (Chen, Jones, & Moreland, 2014). The differences in learning style and preference have continued to attract increasing attention as scholars attempt to develop ways that could be used to align students’ learning styles with available teaching styles to achieve optimal learning outcomes (Bozpolat, 2016). The present paper uses the VARK system to analyze important issues on learning styles, strategies, and preferences.
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Summary of Learning Style
The dominant learning style is read/write, based on the preference of using information displayed as words to receive, process, and understand information in learning contexts. In this learning style, the motivation to learn is derived from text-based input and output, while the attributes of writing well and reading widely assist in internalizing, understanding, expressing, and remembering information (Chang, Hung, & Lin, 2015). This learning style aligns well with a teaching method that presents learning content in written format.
Preferred Learning Strategies
The preferred learning strategies include
- returning to class notes after every lecture to review and condense them, hence making them easily understandable,
- relying on the Internet to read content and make brief notes on issues of importance,
- using text book glossaries and dictionaries to understand learning content,
- relying on class essays, reports, and assignments to receive, understand, and process information,
- using PowerPoint presentations to learn content.
Comparison of Preferred Learning Strategies to Identified Strategies
The preferred learning style (read/write) is in alignment with the findings of the VARK questionnaire, though some of the preferred learning strategies vary from the identified strategies. The preference to use PowerPoint presentations and the Internet in learning contexts has been reinforced in the learning style and strategies identified in the VARK questionnaire. Additionally, there is convergence between the preferred learning strategy of relying on class notes and the identified strategy of text-based input and output.
This means that written directions or instructions provide the main basis for understanding concepts and understanding learning tasks, which is consistent with the read/write learning style (Lecouteur & Delfabbro, 2001). Lastly, there is consensus between the preferred learning strategy of using dictionaries and the identified strategy of using thesauri in learning contexts. The use of this learning strategy helps read/write learners to develop an adequate metacognitive understanding of concepts and ideas with the view to enhancing memory and recall in learning contexts (Ababneh, 2015).
The scores of the VARK questionnaire demonstrate that visual and auditory learning strategies are also employed, though on a lesser scale. This is consistent with the assertion made by Ababneh (2015), that most individuals make use of multiple learning styles to receive, process, and understand information in the learning environment. A preference has been noted on the use of graphs and diagrams to ensure adequate understanding of practical content (visual learning style), though it is often difficult to remember most of the information by picturing it in the mind.
Additionally, although there is a preference in using audio and video files to get a glimpse of the content, it is often difficult to remember the conversations in detail without taking brief notes. This means that it is difficult to remember or memorize the contents of a lecture without taking brief notes or listing the keywords for later use. Drawing from these results, it is possible to use visual and auditory learning strategies to strengthen the preferred learning strategies that fall under the read/write learning style (Lecouteur & Delfabbro, 2001).
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The awareness of individual learning styles, preferences, and strategies influence teaching by virtue of enabling instructors to develop and adopt teaching styles and strategies that are consistent with the methods used by learners to receive, process, and understand information. Available literature is clear that a misalignment between learning styles and teaching styles always leads to poor student performance as well as low motivation and self-efficacy in classroom contexts (Chang et al., 2015).
Such awareness also enables instructors to plan their lessons and lectures around the learning styles, preferences, and strategies exhibited by the students. This means that it is easy and cost-effective to teach students based on their learning styles, preferences, and strategies. Lastly, such awareness helps educators to develop curriculum and assessments in a student-centered manner that encourages the attainment of absorption, comprehension, and retention (Bozpolat, 2016).
In terms of learning, the awareness of individual learning styles, preferences, and strategies enables students to develop confidence and self-efficacy in learning contexts, which in turn increase their opportunities for academic excellence (Chang et al., 2015).
Such awareness also makes learners to use their preferred methods of learning to not only achieve maximum educational outcomes, but also to address their weak points. Lastly, the awareness provides learners with an opportunity to alter their cognitive, emotional, and environmental circumstances to fit available teaching styles in instances where the instructor is unable to adapt to demonstrated learning styles (Ababneh, 2015).
Overall, this analysis has underscored the importance of knowing the preferred learning style and associated strategies. The analysis has also demonstrated that students can have multiple learning styles and strategies, hence the importance of understanding the dominant mode of learning.
Ababneh, S. (2015). Learning styles and preferences of Jordanian EFL graduate students. Journal of Education and Practice, 6(15), 31-37.
Bozpolat, E. (2016). Investigation of the self-regulated learning strategies of students from the faculty of education using ordinal logistic regression analysis. Education Sciences: Theory & Practice, 16(1), 301-318.
Chang, R.I., Hung, Y.H., & Lin, C.F. (2015). Survey of learning experiences and influence of learning style preferences on user intentions regarding MOOCs. British Journal of Educational Technology, 46(3), 528-541.
Chen, C.C., Jones, K.T., & Moreland, K. (2014). Differences in learning styles. CPA Journal, 84(8), 46-51.
Lecouteur, A., & Delfabbro, P.H. (2001). Repertoires of teaching and learning: A comparison of university teachers and students using Q methodology. Higher Education, 42(2), 205-235.