Using preferred learning style to complete a foundation degree

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The following report looks at how I can use my preferred learning style to improve my chances of successfully completing a foundation degree and also how I can apply this knowledge in the workplace. To decipher my learning style I used the VARK questionnaire.

Introduction:

Launched in 1987 by work done by Neil Fleming of Lincoln University, New Zealand, the VARK questionnaire provides people with an indication of what their preferred learning style is. VARK is an abbreviation for Visual, Aural, Read/ Write and Kinaesthetic. All of these are recognised as predominant learning modes and after completing a VARK questionnaire you are given a result as to your preferred learning style based on the answers you gave in a series of sixteen multiple choice questions.

After taking the VARK test once, I found that my predominant learning style was kinesthetic, with a score of 10 (out of 10). The rest of my results were as follows;

Visual = 1

Aural = 5

Read/ write = 2

Kinesthetic =10

The objective of taking a VARK test is to find out what particular (if any) learning style you are best suited to, and then with that knowledge you can go on to apply it to whatever field of learning you need.

Main Body:

Definitions

The actual definition given on the VARK website states that... this modality refers to the "perceptual preference related to the use of experience and practice (simulated or real)". And furthermore...people who prefer this mode are connected to reality, either through concrete personal experiences, examples, practice or simulation.

Visual learners tend to think in pictures, prefer the use of diagrams and being shown how to do something.

Auditory learners learn best by hearing information and often have strong language skills.

Finally, the read/write learner prefers to read instructions, as opposed to watching or listening to them.

Findings

Understanding my learning style is very important to give myself the best opportunity of successfully completing my degree. It enables me to filter out those learning styles which I do not suit and concentrate on the one(s) that do give me the best results.

As a predominantly kinaesthetic learner, by my nature I find it hard to concentrate for long periods of time, especially if I have no genuine interest in it. With this knowledge I am now able to manage my time better. I can take the task of writing an essay, and chip away at it in small block of 20 - 30 minutes as opposed to 2 and 3 hour stints.

I also now know that I prefer to do tasks, maybe make mistakes and learn from them. Other people may prefer to sit down, read instructions, visualise the outcome or be told how to do it. I believe this will be a very useful tool in successfully completing my degree and also in the workplace. I would have more confidence that actually doing the task, is the way I prefer to learn and will often give me the best results.

In the classroom or the lecture theatre, it would be difficult to implement my learning style, because I would be expected to listen, read and write. The actual application of completing an essay or assignment is where I can utilise my knowledge of my preferred learning style.

In the workplace it will be slightly different, I can be given a task or a set of instructions to follow and I can use my knowledge and experiences to get on with the task in hand and complete it.

Problems

A concern for predominantly kinaesthetic learners is that unfortunately most of the education system and the schools still implement a teaching style that best suits those that are read/ write learners. It could be fair to say that education needs to move with the times with regards to this sort of learning style tests and take them more into consideration when implementing teaching styles.

According to, www.kidsandreading.co.uk approximately 42 - 50% of all learners are classified as primarily "kinaesthetic". Ironically, most teachers are not trained in the many methods to instruct these learners. Thus, some children who are actually kinaesthetic learners may be mislabelled as having ADD or ADHD.

As this questionnaire is done online using multiple choice questions, I do think there will be certain factors that could affect the outcome of your final score, and thus your perception of your preferred learning style. Depending on your mood that particular day it could be fair to suggest that the outcome of the results could vary slightly.

Being self-aware of my learning style will have its disadvantages, for example if I am drifting off or not concentrating on a task then I can become complacent with the knowledge of being a kinaesthetic learner. It is essentially up to me to be able to implement my learning style in the best way, and use it to my advantage.

Conclusion

The actual individual elements that go towards making a kinaesthetic learner, (i.e., experience, examples, practice and simulation), can be used to my advantage in the workplace or in completing my degree successfully. I can draw on experience to avoid making mistakes, I can contribute in class or in the workplace with example's and personal experiences to be able to relate to the topic or task in hand, where others may need to read and research them.

On the whole it would be fair to assume that being multimodal would be the best for an individual, because you can draw on all facets of learning styles and use each and any one that best suits the specific task.

Recommendations

I would suggest implementing this or a similar test in schools at an early age, that way children can be monitored on their particular learning style and we could see if making slight adjustments to the way children are taught can have benefits both short and long term in the way that they learn.

If I was aware at an early age of my learning style I would have been able to implement certain modes of teaching relative to my mode of learning, have a better understanding of myself and how to go about completing a task such as a foundation degree.

Now with this knowledge I feel comfortable and confident that I have the ability to apply this knowledge to its full potential.

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