VAK Learning Styles: Understanding How Team Members Learn
How do you want to learn? Do you like looking at pictures and feel that they speak to you? Do you feel that you can hear and remember things better?
Or, do you want to know how you can learn better?
As a team leader, you need to look at team productivity.
And yet, not everyone learns the same way.
Before we head off to how you can take a look at the different ways to make your team members be more attentive, let’s take a look at what type of a learner you are.
THE VAK MODEL
VAK model is what you need to take a look at if you want to know more about your learning style. V
AK, expanded as Visual, Auditory and Kinesthetic, is comparatively easy to learn and can help you in understanding your own personality and thoughts.
The model, developed in the 1920s by psychologists and some of the teaching specialists such as Fernald, Keller, Orton, Gillingham, Stillman, and Montessori, suggests that we tend to learn the one way out of the three.
Yet interestingly, we like to use all the three to convey what we want to say or listen.
What Works for You?
Everyone out there has their own phenomena to perceive things.
Some might relate MORE to visual, some to auditory and some to kinesthetic.
It totally depends on you and so, there is no wrong or right way to learn.
You tend to learn in a way which suits them the best.
You would normally know what your learning process is and what method fits you the best. To be honest, it can be any out of the three.
For example, if I talk about kindergarten kids, they are taught by using a mix of all the three methods i.e. Kinesthetic.
If I talk about teenagers, they tend to learn through visuals more and talking about higher grade students, auditory is the best source for them.
The learning technique surely depends from person to person and changes according to the needs.
People generally use a different style for different tasks.
The Intelligence Test to Know What Method is Suited to You
Confused as to how you should learn?
Or, are you a team member trying to understand how to make your team members learn in the fastest way?
If so, read on.
- In 1904, a French psychologist, Alfred Binet, developed the intelligence test. This test brought out the difference between individual interests.
- In 1907, Dr. Maria Montessori, inventor of the Montessori method, started using the instruments which enhanced the learnings of the students. After this period, the use of learning styles was decreased severely until 1950, when there occurred the IQ tests, reasonability tests, aptitude tests and more focus on academics.
- In 1956, a system was developed by Benjamin Bloom, known as Bloom’s Taxonomy. This system took the learning styles a step ahead.
- In 1976, Dunn and Dunn style model was introduced which helped the students to respond to different types of instruments used.
- Since 1980 to present, different methods have been created and used for learning styles. More emphasis was placed on classroom training so that students can learn accordingly.
In recent times, pedagogy has also been in use.
This method is used to train the teachers and make them learn about the learning styles so that they can incorporate different methods and can teach the students about it.
Today, we can see the increasing use of online courses, which are also helping students to learn and as a result the use of learning styles has increased and is challenging students to learn and understand.
Normally people have a preferred learning style.
You may even make the use of two or three learning styles simultaneously.
THE FLEMING EXPERIMENT
To identify what type of learner one is, Fleming introduced self-report inventory, which showed series of questions based on situations and respondents were asked to match the answers which they preferred and are best for them.
You have to learn a specific style of dancing. How will you learn this skill?
- By listening to instructions
- By looking at the pictures
- By seeing performing someone
Before starting with the VAK model, let’s look at David Kolb model, based on the processing continuum and perception continuum:
The diagram also represents the different learning styles.
Which one do you think you are from the graph above?
We will explain them in detail below.
- Converging involves thinking and doing. These learners are specialists and find their ways to do work. They bring out new ideas and perform them.
- Accommodating involves feeling and then doing the task. These people use a hands-on approach to recognize and learn new things. They like to do more practical and challenging things.
- Assimilating involves thinking and watching. These people tend to learn by reading and give time to themselves to think.
- Diverging involves feeling and watching. These people prefer to watch others doing things rather than doing themselves. They perform well with brainstorming and have a good sense of communication.
THE VAK MODEL – WHAT IS IT?
Did you know that auditory learners make up as much as 30% of the population? Or that there are as many as 65% people who understand visually first?
On the other hand, those who learn by kinesthetic is just around 5%.
To understand this model, there are three learning styles of VAK. They are:
|These learners will respond to phrases like:||These learners will respond to phrases like:||These learners will respond to phrases like:|
|I see what you mean.||That rings a bell.||That feels right.|
|I get the picture.||I hear what you are saying.||How does that grab you?|
|What’s your view?||That sounds okay to me.||Let me try.|
1. Visual Learners
Do you love to learn through visuals?
You’re the first kind then and like pictures, charts, videos, demonstrations, and other materials.
This method helps to visualize and brings out the imagination.
M-learning or video-based learning has made a permanent mark in the world of education already.
In fact, the term is now commonly used in the science of learning and cognition when referring to gaining knowledge via videos.
Whether you want to learn about practical skills or theory; there is an online course out there for everyone.
What makes M-learning unique is that it uses both auditory and visual cues.
As a result, an employee is able to perceive the data better.
Since it is a digital method, it does not require anyone to take extra steps in order to listen and view the information at the same time.
Usually, the primary points are displayed on the screen while the topic is explained in detail through the audio.
Visual learners find it easier to remember the important details associated with the topic later because of the pictorial imprint, something you would want to consider.
Visual learning also includes mind mapping.
How does it help you as a team leader?
Let’s put it this way – mind mapping decentralizes the topic into many points.
All you need is to show a chart and if your team members are visual learners, they will know what you’re looking for.
As a team leader, adopt methods that help the team members to understand and learn.
For one, team members can use the pictures or diagrams to learn new skills and observe new things accordingly.
Top Strategies That You Can Use on Visual Learners
- Use graphs, charts, and diagrams – they love to see, and you can offer plenty of it.
- It’s a great idea to use handouts, maps and making notes out of these.
- Convert the written information into visual information if needed.
- Drawing the pictures on the sidelines to understand better.
- Think in pictures and colors to remember.
- Use of facial expressions.
- Highlighting the important text in the book.
- Use glossary or indexes to remember and learn.
- Writing down the things or using flash cards can help.
- Using post-it notes to jot down points is another strategy to use.
- Writing down the keywords.
- Creating a mind map.
2. Auditory Learners
Do you find you talking to yourself? Would you rather not look at things other than reading to learn?
If you love to learn through talking, speaking, verbal lessons, and discussions, you belong here.
You will love speaking and listening to tape recorders too.
For you, lectures are a great way to understand things.
If only, it was the same for everyone else out there!
You will also find yourself focusing more on the small parts and later on the bigger picture to learn and understand.
As a result, you can write the responses well after hearing, and learn via recognizing pitch and sound.
Want to know another good thing about all of this? You wouldn’t be perturbed with the background noises – be it that favorite television show or a catchy music.
Instead, background noise helps them to remember the things.
So, you tend to remember the names and forget the faces, a reason you can become good speakers.
What adds to your skill set is that you can memorize well and easily understand the traditional teaching techniques.
If you are a team leader, you will love talking about the team members, and organizing meetings and discussions.
So, what do you do if you’ve team members who like to learn with the auditory approach?
The Top Strategies to be used by Auditory learners:
- Give handouts and mention details thoroughly.
- Include group activities like brainstorming sessions, debates, storytelling and more.
- Discuss ideas and repeat instructions to make them remember.
- Rather than reading notes, use recording class notes
- Make use of speech recognition techniques available, or even use audio tapes.
- Encourage team members to attend corporate meetings.
3. Kinesthetic Learners
Do you’ve team members who you think learn while touching, doing and moving?
While they can be extremely productive if you do things the right way, they require an extremely unconventional approach compared to the two instances we talked above.
A hands-on approach is best for them to learn.
They might even love open offices more, as they can interact with others.
While only a few like to learn in a similar way, they are a unique proposition in themselves.
Here is what you need to know about them as a team leader.
- Can’t sit for long hours and may be easily distracted.
- It is a learning style which uses the simulation of nerves in the body muscles and joints.
- The preference is to do physical activities more than any other activity like- listening or watching videos.
Here is the thing – Kinesthetic learners show no interest in reading or listening.
They tend to show interest in hands-on activities and does with confidence. Practical activities are best for them.
They love working in laboratories, workshops, or even in simulations; environments where they can be fully active.
The background music isn’t a worry – they feel it soothing and can work easily with it.
You might want these learners to have duties that involve past considerations – they do tend to ‘remember’ past experiences.
Top Strategies to Use On Kinesthetic Learners
- Playing of background music helps improve productivity.
- Hands-on activities work better.
- Playing games can help them learn quicker
- Doing work in whatever way they feel comfortable.
Since they are more intent on ‘doing’ rather than sitting around, team building activities work great for them.
These learners also tend to take more risk, and so can be rewarding for your organization in the longer run.
That being said, there are some disadvantages to kinesthetic learning as well.
- As a team leader, you may only have a few team members intent on following such a method.
- You may need special assistance.
- Not all exercises include hands-on approach.
- Kinesthetic learners just aren’t good listeners.
THE GUIDE TO MAKING THE TEAM LEARN
Here is all that you need to know to make your team learn faster, while ensuring everyone remains happy.
1. Identifying Learning Styles for Team
As a manager, you face numerous challenges in the workplace.
Recognizing the different learning styles and effective training methods can help you achieve higher productivity.
Whether visual or auditory or kinesthetic, employees have to be provided with different measures so that they can work easily.
Failure can lead to demotivation, leading to unhappy employees.
2. Training Team Members for Effective Working
After identifying the learning styles of team members, as a manager you have to train employees. Here is how you can go about it.
- Introducing different materials and learning styles suitable for everyone.
- Take into consideration that every employee has their own working capability.
- Encourage group learning sessions.
- Create, organize and distribute materials the right way.
- Giving time to team members to learn, and appreciating their learning style.
Looking to know how you can make your team members understand better? Here is a questionnaire to help you out.
3. Don’t Forget Videos
Videos remain a great way to engage and teach.
You don’t need to devote time to have your employees watch every video. Instead, you could use m-learning to help them out.
M-learning courses are split up into a series of videos that are short and to the point. It can help team members’ process and remember it better.
The short length of the videos is especially of help when teaching difficult courses because team members do not get overwhelmed.
One of the reasons why M-learning is becoming so popular is that the videos are accessible anywhere.
All you need are smartphones to use them.
You do not have to drag around heavy books every time you want to learn something new or master a skill.
Let your employees sit and study how they want to.
If you are worried about the phone’s storage getting full, do not worry because all the materials can be accessed online.
You can even have courses that inspire students to pay attention.
Healthcare e-learning companies, for instance, are trying to make their courses as detailed as possible so that students are never stuck.
Resources and reading materials are provided with the course to support the videos.
4. Focusing on the Right Training Strategies
The way how employees communicate show their learning style and how they want to perform. And the right training strategy can help them.
Let’s take a few real life examples.
Deb Peterson is a learning and development consultant, and also the owner of Marvelous! Magazine. When she organizes workshops, she asks employees to form a half circle.
Team members sit on the one side of the semi-circle according to their capabilities depending on holistic or analytical.
After this, Peterson has each side explaining their experiences to the other side.
If both sides of team members work together, they can easily communicate and find the balance in performing the task.
It can help the team members to learn what others are thinking and help them to work together and also helps them to learn new techniques and also gain knowledge.
That’s not the only instance. Roz Bahrami, on the other hand, works for the organization SkyPrep, an organization that specializes in employee training software.
She states how employees that follow the VAK method of learning styles are the most efficient one.
Also known as the VARK, it includes- Visual, Auditory, Reading and Kinesthetic, a method that helps the employees to learn different methods and also make them more efficient to work.
MAKING IT THE RIGHT MIX TO GET MORE
Most of the employees contain the traits of two or more styles.
So, learning all can be beneficial and also helps them to get accustomed to styles.
Most employees prefer digital training because they get to learn new techniques and more information is available online.
Digital training also helps in reducing the time and money. It enables to train employees effectively and also employees have the benefit to select the timings according to their schedule.
Though there are more benefits of digital learning, you may be hesitant to try it out first.
If you’ve middle aged employees, they may be averse to trying out something as new as this.
So, what do you do if your employees do not prefer the digital learning system? You will need to look at other methods then, as it’s important
If your employees find it difficult to learn because of the generation gap, it’s important to not push it.
The system or else, may work as a demotivation for them and you wouldn’t get the results you are looking for.
SO, WHAT IS THE BEST WAY TO TRAIN YOUR EMPLOYEES?
If you’ve someone who likes to learn through videos, it’s time to introduce m-learning content to them.
If you have someone who loves to read papers, it’s time to give them some great training manuals.
And if you’ve someone who likes to listen, invite them over to those meetings.
It’s about giving the right role and responsibility to the right person.
Not everyone is meant to work in every role, and while you would love the amphibians who can juggle different work responsibilities seamlessly, you don’t have to depend on everyone for it.
Instead, the right work strategy is to help people be in their comfort zone, while giving them new challenges.
If your employees aren’t able to learn things the way they want, they wouldn’t be able to proceed to that next step.
In short, there is no best way method to train employees. Employees learn from whatever technique they will prefer to learn.
Some employees love to learn online while some will prefer offline methods.
It is all up to individual preferences, and the employee will stick to one they think they can give their best in.
In fact, using two or more techniques can result in more benefit, progress, and performance.