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.
- Kinaesthetic: a kinaesthetic-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 the VARK system, or visual, auditory, reading/writing, and kinaesthetic:
- 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 organises things best in his mind by taking down notes.
So where does VR fit in?
Virtual reality addresses all of the needs described in both the VAK and VARK learning models. Whilst experiencing the virtual world the subject matter is presented to the user thus stimulating the visual and auditory senses. When Mixed Reality is used, a user is able to physically manipulate the virtual environment by turning their head or using arm movements.