One of the fun features of AJ Tutoring’s academic tutoring program is an assessment that we give to our students sometime in the first few sessions. This assessment, the “VARK Questionnaire”, helps us to determine what type of learner each student is. This information is invaluable for students who are struggling in their classes for no apparent reason – sometimes there’s just a mismatch between the teaching style and learning style!
There are four major learning styles: visual, auditory, reading/writing, and kinesthetic. Visual learners thrive with pictures, graphs, and charts of information. Auditory learners learn best by hearing and discussing the material. Reading/writing learners are able to understand information by reading it and then writing about it. Finally, kinesthetic learners are people who learn by doing – hands-on demonstrations and experiments work best.
The VARK Questionnaire consists of multiple-choice questions with real-life situations. Students choose which answer or answers best fits their actual preference. By looking at the pattern of answers, we can determine which types of learning best suit the student. Information about their personalities is also helpful in determining their learning styles – for example, athletes are frequently kinesthetic learners.
While it’s fun to know what type of learner you are, this information is also highly practical for tutoring. Many high school classes are taught in an auditory or read/write format (or some of both) – the teacher lectures, and students are expected to read the book and write papers. Students who are kinesthetic or visual learners are sometimes at a disadvantage in these environments.
This semester, I’m working with a student who’s an auditory learner. She knew this about herself already (although she didn’t know the name for it), and she told me that she learns best by discussing the material with other people. So although her teacher lectured frequently, my student was having a hard time because she didn’t get an opportunity to think through her thoughts in a discussion format. Armed with this information, I’m able to help her by discussing and debating each chapter in the history book. I’ve seen her understanding go way up in just a few weeks of tutoring!
Interested in trying the questionnaire for yourself? Here you go: http://www.vark-learn.com/english/page.asp?p=questionnaire