Tailoring instruction to match your style

Tailoring instruction to match your style

Abbreviated to VAK, this late 1980s Visual-Auditory-Kinesthetic styles model describes how everything we see, hear and feel through physical interaction affects our learning. In other words, knowing how people and more specifically learners process and perceive information, makes teaching easier. There is no distinction as to which style is more efficient. It’s what works best for each student individually. Also, no one student would use just one learning style, that’s why during lessons we should cater for all three of them. 

VAK styles are frequently confused with multiple intelligences, a rather common mistake educators make. In plain English, the difference lies in the following fact: all learners possess a dominant learning style whether that’s their preferred style or not; this is the VAK modality. This dominant learning style is a reflection of their multiple intelligences. VAK applies to all content areas, while MIs are linked to a specific content, the verbal-linguistic por example. Think of two students who both have a high level of musical intelligence but each of them develops their love for music in a different way. One student becomes clearly auditory (VAK) while the other is more prone to being kinesthetic (VAK). Your auditory student will play any musical piece by ear while the kinesthetic student will need to practice the tune several times, over and over again. What really matters here, is that both learners are going to reach the exact same goal which is to learn how to play music; but they will do so by processing the task differently in their brain. Still, they will be equally successful. 

Quick reminder: note that as teachers we tend to design and deliver lessons based on our own VAK styles. But our sense channels could differ from those of our students. Such mismatch may prove counterproductive. So, if you have visual learners for example, incorporate visual components in every content area, not just in the area represented by the mix of multiple intelligences dominant in our class. 

Iphigeneia Mariou

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