October 15, 2010
A broad look at what Learning Styles are and the model we will be exploring
I meant to get to this a little earlier this week, but late is better than never, right? In any case, we are beginning an in-depth exploration of Learning Styles and how they impact both small-group leaders and small-group members.
I'd like to start with a broad overview of Learning Styles in general.
Learning styles refer to how a person perceives and processes information.
- "Perceive" refers to how data enters into a person's brain—meaning, sight, smell, sound, or touch.
- "Process" refers to what the brain does with that information after it has been perceived. It's how the brain interprets, organizes, stores, and uses data.
When it comes to categorizing and understanding the learning styles of human beings, there are dozens of different models that have been developed over the years (many of which are very scholarly and the opposite of user friendly). But I prefer to focus on the VARK model because it makes a lot of sense and, frankly, is easy to both understand and apply.
Gimme a V-A-R-K!
The VARK model of learning styles was developed by Neil Fleming, who is a professor and educational theorist currently living in New Zealand. It focuses on four distinct learning styles:
- Visual learners
- Auditory learners
- Reading/writing learners
- Kinesthetic learners
We will discuss each of the different styles in depth over the next several weeks, although you can guess a lot about each style based on the name. Also, I should have mentioned this earlier, but VARK is just the first letter of each of the four learning styles. (You already figured that out, I know.)
In addition to the four VARK styles, we will also be talking about Social Learners and Solitary Learners—a distinction that makes a big difference when it comes to attendance and participation in small groups.
Dominant and Secondary
It's important to note that just about everyone is able to operate in all four of the different learning styles. Chances are good that all of your small-group members will be able to perceive and process information through site (visual), sound (auditory), reading/writing, and touch (kinesthetic).
But each of us has a dominant learning style—a primary method that we prefer to use when we learn. This is the way that we unconsciously approach and interpret the world. And, as small-group leaders, this is the way that we primarily attempt to lead and teach others.
Most people have a secondary learning style, as well. They are not as comfortable with their secondary style as they are with their dominant style, but they can learn and interact well just the same.
Okay, I think that's enough for this session. Come back early next week where we will take an in-depth look at what it means to be a Visual Learner.
posted by Sam O'Neal on October 15, 2010 3:20 PM