VAK Learning Styles

Understanding How Team Members Learn


The fact that you're reading this article shows that you have an appetite for learning and improving your skills. But even if you're happy to scroll through words on a screen, is that the best learning style for you?

Would you get more out of it if we were to present this information visually or aurally, perhaps through an infographic or flow chart, or with a podcast or video?

What kind of learner are you?

In this article we'll look at the VAK Learning Styles model and explore the importance to you and your team of understanding people's different styles of learning.

What Is the VAK Learning Styles Model?

The VAK Learning Styles Model was developed by psychologists in the 1920s to classify the most common ways that people learn. According to the model, most of us prefer to learn in one of three ways: visual, auditory or kinesthetic (although, in practice, we generally "mix and match" these three styles).

  • Visual: a visually-dominant learner absorbs and retains information better when it is presented in, for example, pictures, diagrams and charts.
  • Auditory: an auditory-dominant learner prefers listening to what is being presented. He or she responds best to voices, for example, in a lecture or group discussion. Hearing his own voice repeating something back to a tutor or trainer is also helpful.
  • Kinesthetic: a kinesthetic-dominant learner prefers a physical experience. She likes a "hands-on" approach and responds well to being able to touch or feel an object or learning prop.

A variation on the acronym, developed by New Zealand-based teacher Neil D. Fleming, is VARK®, or visual, auditory, reading/writing, and kinesthetic:

  • Reading/Writing: a reading- or writing-dominant learner uses repetition of words and writing. Clearly, there is an overlap with visual and auditory styles, as words and writing can be both, but, commonly, a person who prefers to learn this way remembers or organizes things best in his mind by taking down notes.

Understanding Learning Preferences

You'll probably already have a good sense of what your learning preference is, as this will have been present from your earliest days at school. For example, is your default response to a problem or challenge to sketch something out on a piece of paper (visual), talk about it (auditory), or build a model or tangible representation of the problem (kinesthetic)?

If you are still unsure of your learning style, you may be able to identify it by considering these scenarios:...

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