I've read quite a few learning styles books over the years, but I found it difficult to zero in on my daughters' preferences. They've always enjoyed my reading aloud to them, so I chose a literary-based educational model. I added in other activities to mix things up. We rolled along.
I'm happy to report, however, that I recently discovered the VARK system, which offers both adult and young person's questionnaires. Now that my children are older, I thought it would be interesting to see their own responses to a learning-style assessment. I also wanted to discover my own preferences, just for kicks.
The VARK (Visual, Aural, Read/Write, Kinesthetic) evaluation consists of 16 questions, each with four response choices, of which a responder may select any that match his/her perception. This particular component of the questionnaire is fantastic. I think I only checked one box on perhaps two of the questions; on all the others, I selected more than one response.
But VARK is more than just nifty, fun, and helpful in making the learning experience more meaningful for each of our children. VARK goes one step further: each modality has a helpsheet that suggests specific study skills and methods for that particular preference:
- Intake: ideas for absorbing information
- SWOT (Study without Tears): study skills and techniques
- Output: performance, e.g., tests, exams, assignments, presentations, etc.
For example, the Read/Write helpsheet suggests for SWOT that someone with that preference might want to rewrite his or her notes; read those notes silently over and over; rewrite ideas using other words; and rework charts, diagrams, and the like into written statements.
I found the FAQ section to be particularly helpful. Spend a few minutes browsing around there to get a feel for the philosophy behind the VARK system. To get a better understanding of the four modalities and the multimodal preference, read over the VARK Modalities page. None of these is too long or technical; in fact, I found them informative and fascinating.
You have the option to purchase for around $16.00 US a more detailed (typically seven- to eight-page) personal report of your score. I downloaded the two-page sample report and decided that the free academic helpsheets on the website were enough information for us at this point.
Our styles, you ask? I scored a strong Read/Write preference (13), with a fairly even mix among the other three modalities (around five/six). Miss Priss came out quite strong on the Aural side of things, whereas Tiny Girl is multimodal with visual leanings.
Pop over to the VARK site and take the quiz yourself. Have your older children take it, too. And then let me know your results. Were they what you expected, or was something out of the blue?
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