Learning styles is a theory that suggests people learn better using different methods of learning. We perceive information using our senses. The three most practical senses in learning environments are sight, hearing and touch. The VAK model categorizes these sensory methods of learning as Visual (V), Auditory (A) and Kinesthetic (K) learning styles.
While most people have a dominant learning style, nobody has just one learning style. Everyone uses each of the learning styles to some degree. Some are stronger in one style while others have even strength in all styles. The reality is that we all have a custom “learning style” that is, in varying degrees, a combination of Visual, Auditory and Kinesthetic learning.
It is useful to know the strength of your learning styles as they relate to each other. This allows you to focus on maximizing your learning potential. Recognizing your strengths also helps you to seek learning opportunities that cater to your combination of learning style strengths. In recent years, many educators have started using knowledge of learning styles (and multiple intelligences) to improve teaching methods in order to reach learners of all types.
About the Learning Styles
A summary of each of the VAK learning styles is provided below.
The Visual learning style is learning by seeing. You learn visually whenever you gain information from sight.
Auditory style is learning by hearing. Learners with strong auditory ability are able to hear and comprehend without missing much.
Kinesthetic style is learning by doing. You learn in this manner whenever you capture new information through physical activity.
Visual Learning Style
Visual style is learning by seeing. You learn visually whenever you gain information from sight. This includes more than just the viewing of pictures and your surroundings. Visual learning also encompasses the written word. Visual learners benefit greatly from teaching that utilizes illustrations, charts, diagrams, videos, etc. They often feel a need to convert spoken instruction into visual form by taking notes.
Characteristics of a Visual Learner:
- Good at remembering people’s faces
- Accurately recognizes body language and facial expressions
- Able to picture things in their mind
- Good at taking notes in the form of text and doodles
- Comprehends visual information such as charts, graphs and diagrams
- Recalls appearances with ease
- Appreciates pictures and illustrations in books
- Enjoys learning from video presentations
- Learns well from flash cards
- Notices visual details that others might miss
Kinesthetic Learning Style
Kinesthetic style is learning by doing. You learn in this manner whenever you capture new information through the process of physical activity. It is often referred to as a hands-on learning experience. Consider how you learned to ride a bicycle. You learned by getting on a bike to experience and practice balancing, steering and pedaling. This experience ultimately taught you how to ride.
Characteristics of a Kinesthetic Learner:
- Good at learning through hands-on experience
- Often bored with traditional textbook learning
- Likes to move around and explore their environment
- Usually enjoys athletics and physical education
- Likes to touch objects and people
- Would rather participate than watch
- Appreciates opportunities to go on field trips
- Gets satisfaction from building with their hands
- Enjoys classes with physical experiments
- Can become restless without physical activity
Auditory Learning Style
Auditory style is learning by hearing. This type of learning is helpful in the classroom environment. During a lecture, an auditory learner is able to easily comprehend, process and retain information. Auditory learning is not only the ability to listen to spoken word and interpret tone, but to do so with a high level of accuracy and efficiency. Learners with strong auditory ability are able to hear and comprehend without missing much.
Characteristics of a Auditory Learner:
- Good at remembering people’s names
- Recalls spoken information with ease
- Aware of and easily distracted by sounds
- Enjoys listening to audio books and storytelling
- Often skilled at speaking
- Prefers classes in lecture format
- May record lectures to hear again later
- Benefits from reading out loud
- Enjoys rhymes and rhythmic pattern in language
- Benefits from group discussions