Workshops 2012

Neil Fleming, designer of VARK, will be running participatory workshops at several colleges and universities in St Louis in early October 2012. There are also plans for a VARK Conference with no date set. Maybe in 2013.

Neil Fleming, the VARK designer, accepts keynote invitations and has been facilitating workshops around the world for the past 15 years. There are a range of topics, and he can adapt to your needs.(see Workshops on the More Information page). There is increased interest in applying VARK and learning preferences in both academic environments and in high performance (elite) coaching and business environments. Those boring meetings may be the result of inappropriate learning preferences. If you are interested in a keynote presentations, or workshops on your site, please email Neil and indicate your interest. There is no commitment in asking. He can provide you with email addresses of previous clients to get independent feedback about the effectiveness of these highly participatory events. They are not PowerPoint driven lectures! That would be anathema for someone who designed VARK!!

Personalized Learning Profiles for Business

Did you ever want more detailed feedback about your VARK scores and a learning profile written for you; and about you with an emphasis on business use. That service is now available. You will be provided with a detailed description of your learning preferences using a PDF file returned immediately to your browser. The cost varies with currency changes but is approximately $US15 or £UK7 or an equivalent in other currencies. To go to the VARK questionnaire where these VARK profiles are available, click here:

Businesses wanting to use these for a large group would be offered a discounted price.

New Business Membership and Business Resources

We have redesigned and streamlined our business services. This new service begins with a Business Membership package that includes:

  • Your own VARK web address: We host a website dedicated to gathering VARK information about your customers, clients or staff. This has an initial free hosting of 100 respondents. You would use this to advise your respondents of the URL for that site and each user would be able to complete the VARK questionnaire online and see their VARK results..
  • Free Access to VARK Resources: We provide a membership cache with PowerPoint presentations, a calculator for analyzing VARK scores, alternative Helpsheets, workshop and training handouts, detailed recent statistics, research information, and much more.
  • Marketing and Promotions: Membership provides you with the rights to use the principles of VARK in training programmes both in-house and externally and to use VARK Membership in your marketing and promotions.

Optional Add-Ons:

  • Additional recipients: If you wish to have more than 100 respondents complete the questionnaire within your Business Membership you can top-up your client limit.
  • VARK Business Profiles: When each client, customer or staff member completes the VARK Questionnaire online within your membership area, they receive a VARK Business Profile as a PDF file direct to their browser. This is a Business-oriented profile that is different from the ones offered to members of the public who complete the questionnaire on the VARK website. It can be purchased en bloc by a business on a per-user basis. The price is based on numbers and negotiated within the indicative range: $US3-$US15.
  • Customized Profiles: These use the same format as the VARK Business Profile above, but offer the added opportunity for you to place information about your business into each profile that is pinged back to clients, staff or customers. We work with you in tailoring your content into the PDF document so that it effectively promotes your company and its products. Indicative fees for VARK Customized Profiles are in the range $US3-$15 per user.

***These are all fully hosted services. No software needs to be added to your servers or websites to enjoy the business benefits of using VARK in these ways.***

Choosing Your Research Design: Watch for Bias!

I have learned about some inappropriate and wasteful research efforts. Please don’t add to my list!
Researchers have tried to find differences between individuals’ preferences when they are learning some specific skills. That may be appropriate when the skill is carefully chosen. Teaching children to swim is unlikely to be effective when the teaching methods are predominantly Read/write or Visual. There has been VARK research done on swimming, knitting, tying knots and sign language. Often the researcher has failed to note that such tasks have a built-in bias and differences between individuals may be meaningless. Of course, people who have a relatively high score for the Kinesthetic mode will learn better (and faster) if the task is a Kinesthetic one! And lawyers may have a bigger proportion who have Read/write preferences than body-shop workers. But beware! Most of the VARK database (60%) is composed of those who have no particular single preference. They are multimodal and use two, three or four modes to help them learn. They will dominate the statistics and make conclusions invalid unless the researcher can use very sophisticated statistical measures to unravel their multiple characteristics.

Some have tried to categorize teaching methods as being more Kinesthetic or more Visual, but again, beware! We are multimodal beings and there may be variety even when somebody appears to be using only one mode to teach or train. An instructor using PowerPoint is probably using mainly Read/write methods with print on the screen and some Aural output. If that same instructor chose to add many examples, case studies and applications it would better suit those who prefer to learn using their Kinesthetic preferences. The addition of graphs, diagrams, charts, maps and an overview schematic would assist those who would have Visual preferences. Because it is on a screen does not make it a Visual!

Children’s Preferences

I receive emails from teachers and parents wanting to know the VARK preferences of their young children. Between birth and around 12 years of age children build their own set of preferences for learning. For example, after birth they develop preferences for touch (K), voices (A), pictures (V), reading(R) and writing (R) in that development order.
It is not helpful to categorize young children as being dependent on any set of preferences when they are in those stages. And, they are not suited to respond to questionnaires. We offer an Observation Sheet that asks questions of grandparents, parents, caregivers, babysitters, siblings, relatives and others who know the child well. It is, intentionally descriptive, not prescriptive. Contact us for a copy but respect the cautions above. Labelling is not helpful

eBooks and Downloads

These four books are now available for purchase as PDF downloads .

  • How Do I Learn Best: A Student’s Guide to Improved Learning
  • 55 Strategies - this can be purchased in parts.
  • Teaching and Learning Styles: VARK Strategies
  • Sports Coaching and Learning: Using learning preferences to enhance performance.

They can be purchased on the VARK website and are downloaded to your computer immediately after payment is made.

Changes to the scoring (February – April 2009)

We made some changes to the scoring rubric for VARK in a trial in March and April 2009. We had been using an arithmetic system for determining the gaps between a respondent’s scores to determine if any single preferences existed. While this was a very simple rubric and one that many found helpful to administer and explain, it was weak as a statistical measure for some research purposes. The Research scoring algorithm used new definitions based on statistical variance. The differences between each of these scoring systems are explained more fully in an article available on the Articles page of the website. There is also more on the Using VARK with a Group page.

The online questionnaire has retained the Standard scoring rubric.

Research Questions

VARK is a very active topic for researchers and this statement is an attempt to assist researchers from following unhelpful pathways. Firstly, VARK is only part of a learning style. A complete learning style should have information on all the preferences that would affect a student’s learning. This includes such things as preferences for learning at different times in the day. It woud be a complex amalgam of questions and analysis. VARK is an intensive look at only one set of preferences within a learning style – the preference that learners have for the communication modes – Visual, Auditory, Read/write and Kinesthetic. VARK is copyright to Neil Fleming as he added Read/write to the usual V, A and K categories.

Comments on Some Research Questions
    1. Can learning be measured? When we learn something, a mental process occurs and that is not observable. The closest we can get to a measure of learning is to ask for some demonstration by the learner to indicate that learning has occurred – a test, demonstration, writing, speaking, running, jumping, analysing… The most powerful way is to ask the learner to teach somebody else. If that is done succesfully we know a great deal about the learner and what is learned. As Proubert said, “To teach is to learn- twice.” Most assessment methods in use in higher education are a proxy for learning.
    2. Does knowing your preferences affect learning? It may or it may not. Merely knowing that you learn best by writing does not mean that you will use that mode for your learning. Many learners copy the learning modes of successful peers instead of using their own preferences. Knowing your weight does not make you take action to reduce (or increase) it. It is the action after “knowing” that determines whether there is a useful link between learning and modal preferences.
    3. What preferences help learners for distance or online learning? All the VARK preferences can be used for all delivery methods. Learners have four preferences not one. They differ in strength and usage but they are not discrete. A researcher will not find that those who succeed with class lectures are Auditory learners or that all sports people are Kinesthetic. Regardless of our VARK scores we use our four modes in combination so a unimodal presentation or research design is neither possible nor helpful. Learners are adept at using their preferred modes to adapt incoming messages to suit their strategies. When they have a zero VARK preference for Auditory they can still attend lectures, talks, debates and discussions and get some learning from those delivery methods. It is just not their preference! In the same way that they can eat pineapples but prefer kiwifruit. They translate/transform the less-desired input.
    4. Do some VARK categories align with particular delivery methods? They may do so but it is a pointless research exercise as people are multimodal. One researcher found no connection between VARK categories and interactive learning methods. Not surprsing! Interactive teaching involves all modes.
    5. Should we use the VARK categories for research?We use the VARK categories (Mild Auditory, Strong Kinesthetic, Visual/Read/write (VA)) only as useful shorthand codes to describe a set of preferences. VARK has four scores and that is intentional. Researchers would be best advised to use all four scores rather than the VARK categories. For some people the differences in their VARK scores are minimal and we should not assign them into rigid research-based categories for analysis. Of course, using four scores makes research more complicated.
    6. If I use all four modes in my teaching will that improve learning for all my students.

Not necessarily! It may confuse some learners who would prefer that Read/write modes were used more often. Learners like variety to prevent boredom but using all four modes in a teaching session can be counter-productive.

SO WHAT ARE SOME GOOD RESEARCH QUESTS?
  1. Do those who know their VARK scores make changes to their learning?
  2. What are those changes?
  3. Are they successful?
  4. How do learners adapt to learn from modes that they do not prefer?
  5. What strategies do learners use that align with their VARK scores?
  6. Which common strategies do not align with learners’ VARK scores?
  7. What are the differences in strategies between learners who have a very strong preference and those who are more even (multimodal)?.
  8. Do learners who much prefer two modes use them interchangeably or together or in some order?
  9. What are the learning characteristics of those who have a zero score for a mode?
  10. Do teachers teach use the same modes for teaching that they prefer for learning?

 

Workshops 2009

In January 2009 Neil Fleming, the VARK designer, will be running his first set of workshops in the USA. These will cover a range of topics (see Workshops on the More Information page). There is increased interest in applying VARK and learning preferences in both academic environments and sports. If you are interested in a workshop or workshops on your site please email Neil and indicate your interest. There is no commitment in asking and he can provide you with email addreses of previous clients to get independent feedback about the effectiveness of his particpatory workshops. These are not PowerPoint driven lectures! That would be anathema for someone who designed VARK!!