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VAK learning style theory is designed to describe how distinct type of learners process information. The VAK learning style was pioneered in 1987 by Neil Fleming. VAK stands for visual, auditory, and kinesthetic (Tactile). The theory is one prefers to learn through one of these sense channels.
Visual learners process and comprehend information much quicker when the information is presented in front of them. A visual learner learns best from charts, graphs, pictures, videos, or even live demonstrations rather than listening to someone lecturing the entire time. Lecturing without visual aids does not help these learners as they retain less information.
They learn best through verbal lessons, discussions, talking things through and listening to what others have to say. Auditory learners interpret the underlying meanings of speech through listening voice, pitch, and speed. These learners learn best through listening to information on videos.
These learners learn through moving, doing, and touching. Kinaesthetic learners learn best through a hands-on approach, actively exploring the physical world around them .These learners are easily distracted thus the teacher has to have activities to actively engage these students to maintain and keep them focused.
Implications for the learner
It may cause learners to focus on developing weak areas and may not work on ways to develop their abilities to fully rounded learners,
It is simply used as ways to apply to the learner, rather than develop an appreciation of the fun range of factors that influence their capacity to learn.
It may lead to boredom of the learner if the teacher doesn’t adequately prepare the lesson to meet the needs of the students.
Kolb’s Learning Cycle
Kolb’s Experiential Learning Theory (ELT) theory revolves around the concept of a learning cycle in which he suggests four stages that follows on from each other to complete the cycle of learning. The learning cycle shows how experience is translated through reflection into concepts, which in turn are used as guides for active experimentation and the choice of new experiences. The first stage is concrete experience (CE), where a student has active experience of learning something first hand. The second stage is reflective observation (RO) when the learner consciously reflects back on that experience. The next phase of the cycle, abstract conceptualization (AC), focuses on how the experience is applied to known theory and how it can then be modified for future active experimentation (AE), which is the fourth stage in the learning cycle. Concrete experience and abstract conceptualization are geared towards grasping experience while reflective observation and active experimentation are towards transforming experience.
Kolb identified four learning styles which correspond to the stages: Assimilating, Diverging, Converging and Accommodating. Assimilators learn best with sound logical theories; they rely on watching and thinking. Diverging learners learn better through feeling and watching or observation and collection of a wide range of information. Converging learners are concerned with doing and thinking and learns better with practical applications of concepts and theories. Accommodating learners focus on doing and feeling and learns better with “hands on” experience and relies on intuition rather than logics.
Implications for Learning
Knowledge of Kolb Learning Styles helps in determining their implications in different areas of life. The learning style preference is actually the product of two pair of variables: the Processing Continuum, which deals with one’s approach to a task and the Perception Continuum, which looks at emotional response or how we think or feel about a task. Persons who know their learning style tend to learn more effectively if learning is geared towards their preference. Experience is translated through reflection into concepts, which in turn are used as guides for active experimentation and the choice of new experiences.
People that have an accommodating learning style are more engaging and would use experience and experimentation in order to study and learn. They prefer working in teams to complete tasks and roles that requires actively working in the field and using initiative to achieve objectives.
Divergers on the other hand, are geared towards concrete experience and observation. They can easily see or judge a situation in different perspectives. They perform better in situations that require generating ideas and prefer to watch rather than do, they like to gather information and use their imagination to solve problems.
Assimilators use inductive reasoning to address problems and are sharp in abstract conceptualization; hence they have little difficulty in producing models. Assimilators require good clear explanation rather than practical opportunity. They excel at understanding wide-ranging information and organizing it in a clear logical format. They prefer readings, lectures, exploring analytical models, and having time to think things through.
Convergers are good in deductive reasoning and could easily apply ideas in practically. They prefer technical tasks, and are best at finding practical uses for ideas and theories. They are more attracted to technical tasks and problems than social or interpersonal issues. They like to experiment with new ideas, simulate and work with practical applications.
The four stages help a person to develop complete comprehension and affective learning. The ideal learning process engages all four of these modes in response to situational demands. Each learning style has its own characters and strength that could lead to more practical way of problem solving.
Honey and Mumford
Peter Honey and Alan Mumford have identified four main learning style preferences.
Activists like to be involved in new experiences and are enthusiastic about new ideas. They enjoy doing things and tend to act first and consider the implications afterwards. They are unlikely to prepare for the learning experience or review their learning afterwards.
Activists learn best when:
involved in new experiences, problems and opportunities
working with others in team tasks or role-playing
being thrown in the deep end with a difficult task
chairing meetings, leading discussions
Activists learn less when:
listening to lectures or long explanations
reading, writing or thinking on their own
absorbing and understanding data
following precise instruction to the letter
Reflectors like to view situation from different perspectives. They like to collect data, review and think carefully before coming to any conclusions. They enjoy observing others and will listen to their views before offering their own.
Reflectors learn best when:
observing individuals or groups at work
reviewing what has happened and thinking about what they have learned
producing analyses and reports doing tasks without tight deadlines
Reflectors learn less when:
acting as leader or role-playing in front of others
doing things with no time to prepare
being thrown in at the deep end
being rushed or worried by deadlines
Theorists like to adapt and integrate observations into complex and logically sound theories. They think problems through step- by-step. They tend to be perfectionists who like to fit things into a rational scheme.
Theorists learn best when:
put in complex situations where they have to use their skills and knowledge
they are in structured situations with clear purpose
they are offered interesting ideas or concepts even though they are not immediately relevant
they have the chance to question and probe ideas
Theorists learn less when:
they have to participate in situations which emphasise emotion and feelings
the activity is unstructured or briefing is poor
they have to do things without knowing the principles or concepts involved
they feel they’re out of tune with the other participants, for example people with different learning styles
Pragmatists are eager to try things out. They like concepts that can be applied to their job. They tend to be impatient with lengthy discussions and are practical and down to earth.
Pragmatists learn best when:
there is a link between the topic and job
they have the chance to try out techniques
they are shown techniques with obvious advantages such as saving time
they are shown a model they can copy
Pragmatists learn less when:
there is no obvious or immediate benefit that they can recognise
there is no practice or guidelines on how to do it
there is no apparent benefit to the learning
the event or learning is ‘all theory’
Implication for Learning
Using the Honey and Mumford learning styles, help to identify how best students will learn. It is important for teachers to know the way students learn; hence this knowledge will set the stage when the facilitator is setting his or her lessons. Importantly, selecting a group with a mix of the different learning styles will make a more cohesive unit.
Activities that the students will be doing will take into account the Activists learning style. Since an activist learns best by taking action, experiential learning will be the best approach for this type of learner. The learner will be able to learn from direct experience.
The reflectors learners are generally good auditory learners. As such, some teaching techniques that can be employed in the classroom for this type of learners involved lecture and the use of audiotapes whenever possible.
The teacher should assess the learning styles of their students and adapt their classroom method to fit the student’s learning styles. The teacher should use activities that will allow for the theorists learners to benefit from the lesson.
The pragmatist’s learners enjoy activities that are engaging; thus the teacher should have different activities in their lessons that will appeal to this type of learner. A constructivist teaching will best appeal to these types of students. Learning will be filtered through former knowledge.
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