Success of VARK in tutoring assistance

August 20, 2014

Ten weeks into this semester, 58 students have sought tutoring assistance. Only three students came for assistance on specific course content. The others wanted help learning how to study efficiently using their learning style. The majority of the students that came to see me were those that preferred learning in all four modes (VARK). They represented 48% of the total. Normally, approximately 30% of the population is VARK learners. The Kinesthetic (K) learners represented 13% and the trimodal learners who were missing the Read/Write preference (VAK) came in significant numbers, 14 %.
Fleming explains that those with all four preferences, (VARK), very often need all four preferences to learn. He states that they may feel anxious if they do not use all their learning styles. Many of these students came in with high frustration levels complaining that they were having difficulties learning from just the written and spoken word. Some were in classes that were primarily lecture oriented (A & R). There were few opportunities to use their V and K preferences- to see, touch, feel, act out, and do what they needed to learn. There is no retention data in this study to date because the semester is not over. But at this point there are multiple success stories. Students have verbalized how much better they are doing. The EMS program reported an improvement in the median score of one exam over last year after the class was instructed in how to condense information from the textbook and lecture notes.
One multimodal VARK student who had been placed on academic probation came into my office to thank me. She had received a 92% on her midterm and was no longer on probation, She said that she had done everything that I had suggested she do and she was now able to use her study and lecture time more efficiently. She was no longer anxious and therefore was more able to focus well.
A struggling student, barely getting by with a 71% average last semester, came to me saying that he had learning disabilities and ADD and that is was impossible for him to learn all this medical information. I rapidly discovered that this VK student had almost a photographic memory for diagrams. I taught him how to turn all pertinent information from text and lecture into pictures, symbols and stories. I received an email from this student the following week saying that he would have been happy to get a solid C on the test he just took, but that he received 100%. He told me to ” Keep up the good work.”
The stories go on and on, and if predictions hold, the data will show that this program is increasing the retention of our students in these demanding health technology programs.