Using VARK with a group

The VARK questionnaire indicates the variety of approaches that support learning. It supports those who have been having difficulties with their learning and has particular applications in business, sport, training and education. Mentors, trainers, teachers and coaches who would like to develop additional learning strategies can also benefit from using VARK. It can be used with a business group, a team or a class or with one-to-one training and counseling, but it does require some explanation to avoid leaping to inappropriate conclusions.

Before you start

Those wanting to use our copyright materials for enhancing their business or adding value to their performance need to visit the Copyright page and expect to budget for the inexpensive cost.

We have a VARK Training Package available – as well as annotated PowerPoint slides and workshop plans and follow-up exercises there are the useful Helpsheets that should enhance learning and communication. 

Before presenting VARK to a group, you may like to check your understanding of some of the complexities of VARK. You can do so using our online VARK Quiz. Correct answers to these 25 True/False Questions will indicate your understanding of some of the key principles involved in using VARK.

Administering the questionnaire

Your options when asking a group to fill in the VARK questionnaire are to use any of the following:

  • the online VARK questionnaire – participants will fill in the questionnaire online and get their VARK result immediately.
  • paper copies of the questionnaire – participants will fill in the questionnaire on paper and use the scoring chart to work out their scores for V, A, R and K; you will need to collect their scores and analyse them either by:
    a) purchasing a VARK Result Analysis to find out what their VARK results are, or
    b) purchasing a VARK Subscription and using the included online VARK calculator to find out what their VARK results are.
    Note: a majority of people have a multimodal preference, so it is not appropriate to just use their highest score without finding out what their VARK result is. The VARK algorithm needs to be applied to their scores to determine what their resulting learning preference is.
  • a VARK Subscription Site – participants will fill in the questionnaire online, get their VARK result immediately, and their results will be automatically stored for you to access.

When you are instructing others to fill in the questionnaire they should be told to make a selection for each question. They may omit a question or they may choose more than one option.

Before they complete the questionnaire it may be helpful to tell them that they are to answer the questions for themselves; not for others. Too much empathy will lead to muddled results.

Some may contest the meaning of words in the questionnaire and others may ask for additional contextual or situational information before they choose their answers. Avoid giving that information, as it may bias responses. Tell them to avoid that question if they persist or encourage them to choose more than one response if they think the context is unclear.

Some may want to discuss the purpose of the questionnaire or its validity or reliability. Ask them to hold such questions till later when they can be more appropriately answered.

Discussing the results

Please emphasize, in whatever ways you can, that the results indicate their preferences but are not their strengths. This reduces the anxiety for respondents who may express a view that their results indicate they are not good readers or not visually strong.

Major changes in work and life experiences may blur differences between preferences as people learn to use Visual, Aural, Read/write and Kinesthetic modes in new situations.  Preferences may also be masked by experiences.  Note that the results of the questionnaire are four scores not one and even when one score dominates the total the other three scores can obviously be used as well. Even a zero score indicates that that mode is not preferred – it does not indicate that it is not available as a learning strategy.

No one mode is superior and there is no superior set for VARK’s four-score results. Although business, government and academic institutions may appear to be biased towards using Read/write (print) resources, life is much more varied. And you can be successful with almost any combination. “You may be different but you are not dumb.” VARK believes that every learner can improve their learning strategies and there is no magic set of scores. People can use their VARK results to explore their own views about whether their VARK preference fits them. For example, a person with a strong Visual preference could be asked:

  • “How important is colour in your life?”
  • “Do you consider yourself a Visual person?”
  • “Are there aspects of your life where your visual preference is obvious?”
  • “Do you think you have a strong sense of space or shape or position or location?”
  • “Do the study strategies fit with what you do now?”

Finally, some may ask questions about output preferences rather than input preferences. “How is it that I like reading but I hate writing?” Research indicates that those who have a strong preference for “taking in the world” in any particular mode ( V, A, R, or K) will want to output in the same mode.

Visit the page on understanding the results, and on VARK categories/modalities.

Remember PREFERENCES ARE NOT THE SAME AS STRENGTHS

and

VARK IS ABOUT STRATEGIES FOR LEARNING.  IT MAY NOT APPLY TO LEISURE OR RECREATIONAL ACTIVITIES.

Check your Understanding of VARK

Before using VARK with a group, you may like to check your understanding of some of the intricacies of VARK, by completing the VARK Quiz.