The VARK Strategies Questionnaire is a companion to the VARK Questionnaire. While the VARK Questionnaire is used to identify which modalities someone prefers when learning, the Strategies Questionnaire asks them about the study strategies that they actually use. The purpose of the Strategies Questionnaire is to point people in the direction of the changes they could make to more closely align their practices with their preferences.
The VARK Strategies Questionnaire was created in March 2020, and in the following year, we recorded the Strategies Questionnaire results for 11,285 people – far fewer than the 840,503 results for the VARK Questionnaire over the same period. 9,664 people have filled in both questionnaires, enabling us to compare their preferences with the actual study strategies they use.
Distribution of Modalities
The results so far show us that people tend to use a wider variety of strategies than is indicated by their preferences. 35% of people have a single learning preference, while only 18% of people use a single modality in their learning. Kinesthetic is both the highest single preference (23%) and the most used single modality (7%). Aural is the second highest single preference (6%) while Read/write is the second highest used single modality (5%).
Conversely, 65% of people have a multimodal preference, while 82% of people use strategies from more than one modality. This makes sense because we don’t always have control over the modalities that content is presented in, or in the modalities that are to be used when presenting content that we have learned, so, in we are likely to have to use a greater range of modalities than are indicated by our preferences.
Interestingly, while the most prevalent multimodal preference is “VARK” (31%), the most used multimodal set of modalities is “ARK” (22%). This aligns with an overall under-use of the Visual modality, discussed further below.
Looking at the percentages of people who have each modality included in their set of learning preferences, and the percentages of people who use each modality in their study strategies, we can see that Visual strategies are preferred by a higher percentage of people than those who actually use Visual strategies. Read/write strategies, on the other hand, are used more widely than they are preferred.
Preferences vs Used Strategies
A majority of people use study strategies that cover all or most of their modality preferences. 41% of people use strategies that cover all of their preferred modalities, while 83% use strategies that cover at least half of their preferred modalities.
A significant number of people also use extra strategies from modalities that are not included in their preferences. 29% of people use strategies from 1 extra modality and 14% use strategies from 2 extra modalities. This is important for two reasons:
- If someone is spending time studying using a modality that they do not prefer, they could be wasting their time. Their study might be more effective if they were to use one of their preferred modalities.
- Sometimes using a non-preferred modality is necessary because that is the modality that the information to be learned is available in, or because it is required by a teacher. In this case, if learners are aware that that modality is not their preference, they may be able to improve their learning by “converting” the content into a modality that they prefer.
The most common “extra” modalities that are used are Kinesthetic, followed by Aural, and then Read/write. 63% of people who don’t have Kinesthetic included in their preferences still use Kinesthetic study strategies. For Aural, the percentage is 54%, and for Read/write it is 44%. Only 19% of people who don’t have a Visual preference use Visual strategies.
The most common preferred modality that is missing from the strategies that people use is Visual. 70% of people who have Visual included in their preferred modalities do not use Visual strategies. The corresponding percentage for Aural is 31%, 33% for Read/write, and 21% for Kinesthetic.
These initial results suggest that although the strategies that people use tend to align somewhat closely with their learning preferences, there is room for some improvement for most people. Particularly:
- Those with Visual included in their preferences should check to be sure that they are including some Visual strategies in their study. e.g. by including drawings, symbols, diagrams, and color in their study notes.
- Those who don’t have Read/write included in their preferences should try converting any read/write material they cannot avoid using into one or more of their preferred modalities. e.g. by talking about what they have read (A), by drawing a diagram illustrating the main ideas in what they have read (V), or by relating what they have read to their own experiences (K).
We welcome your comments on this new questionnaire.