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How do you learn best? Do you rely on written instructions that outline details or processes? Do you physically test and try something out to see how it works? Do you learn through observation, by seeing someone else demonstrate? Do you rely on diagrams and visual aids to help you understand? If you answered mostly “yes” to the above questions, chances are, you have a multimodal learning preference. The majority—approximately 60%– of any population, group, or demographic fall into the category of multimodal learning.
Multimodal learning takes from each of the four sensory modalities—the VARK learning style—used for learning information. The VARK learning style was developed by New Zealand educator Neil Fleming (1987) as a model that assesses how different people have different learning preferences. VARK is an abbreviation for visual (V), aural (A), read/write (R), and kinesthetic (K)—the four modes of learning strategies that he believed categorized how people learned and gathered knowledge. A multimodal learning strategy is a learning preference that combines two or three out of the four basic learning preferences.
Finding out what one’s learning preference is promotes a more effectiveness in learning, as it gears one’s study habits towards their preferred method. Assessing the Method A VARK questionnaire is an effective method in assessing what a person’s learning preference is. A survey of approximately 15 to 16 questions would be given to a group of mixed background profiles, which would later be broken down into categories relating various social categories. The goal of the questionnaire or survey is to come up with a mean score which would be the standard for comparison and action.
This score will is used to initiate a joint effort involving varying parties to determine strategies that would enhance learning for the groups (Murphy, Gray, Straja and Bogert, 2004). The VARK Four To better understand what multimodal learning strategies take from, it is important to discuss and differentiate between the four modes of learning strategies (Fleming, 1987). Visual learning styles highly prefer illustrated information over presentations or explanations in word. People who are “visual” rely heavily on drawings, maps, diagrams, symbols, and the like to gather information and learn.
Aural or Auditory learners prefer to gather information that is spoken or heard. These types of learners acquire information best by listening to lectures, talks, discussions—even from e-mails, chats, texts and phone calls. Those with the Read/Write learning style process information best when it is written or displayed as text. The emphasis of this preference not only considers the input (which in this case is reading), it also looks at the output, which is more often than not, also in written form. Kinesthetic learners gain knowledge and information through practice and experience, real or simulated.
This “experiential learning” may involve simulations, demonstrations, case studies and applications. The discussion of each of the four modes of learning preferences gives an idea of how learners with multimodal learning strategies absorb and understand information. Multiple preferences take factors from each of the four learning styles and incorporate them into an interesting formula that varies from user to user. As an example, you may have strong visual and aural preferences, or read/write and kinesthetic.
It is also possible for a person to have three strong preferences, while some may also exhibit no particular inclination towards any single preference, and instead would have equal learning strategies in all four (Hong and Milgram, 2000). The multimodal learning style uses at least two types of strategies for learning. Unlike those with single preferences who deduce concepts by using their strategic style, multimodal learners often feel the need to “counter-check” the facts they obtained from a single set of strategies with the other types of learning styles (Fleming and Bonwell, 2002).
Case Study: Myself as a Multimodal Learner I obtained the following scores using the VARK questionnaire found on www. vark-learn. com (Fleming, 2006): V=5, A=1, R=9 and K=7. This shows that I have a multimodal learning preference, with strengths in both Read/Write and Kinesthetic areas. Top R and K scores allow me to learn effectively using a combination of written reference and hands-on experience (Vierheller, 2005). My capacity to gather information would be greatly influenced by references, textbooks, lists, notes and readings.
They would likewise be enhanced by using sensory observations, trial and error experiences, and hands-on approaches like computing, field trips and laboratory work. Alternately, I should theoretically be able to produce valuable output by writing information and lists, and by doing a mock-up or by physically recreating experiences and observations. To concur with my test results, I have personally found written information coupled with hands-on testing to be a most effective strategy.
Also, while scoring only a 5 on the visual mode, I have always found visual study strategies to be effective in supplementing the information that I am able to collate using my supposed strong styles. The use of pictures, diagrams, charts, symbols and the like provide significant assistance in my personal learning preference. Users like myself, who have a three-dimensional multimodal learning preference have the fortunate advantage of easily adapting to various assessment methods and techniques required.
Fleming, N. (n. d. ) VARK: A Review of Those Who Are Multimodal. Web site: http://www. vark-learn. com/english/page_content/multimodality. html Hong, E. and Milgram, R. (2000). Homework: Motivation and Learning Preference [Electronic version]. Westport, CT: Bergin & Garvey. Murphy, R. , Gray, S. , Straja, S. , and Bogert, M. (2004). Student Learning Preferences and Teaching Implication. Journal of Dental Education. 68(8). 860-861. Retrieved from www. jdentaled. org.
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