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7 Reasons to Love — and Leverage — Multimodal Learning in Your Classroom

May 31 2019

You’ve probably heard the old adage “everyone learns at their own pace.”

Now, we have studies to reiterate the importance of creating an ideal, personalized learning environment for every individual. Most people agree that learning at your own pace helps improve a learning scenario, but what does that really mean and what other factors are at play? To get started, let’s dive into the different learning styles students might have and what that means for educators teaching a diverse classroom of learners.

How many learning styles are there?

There are four different learning styles: visual, auditory, reading, and kinesthetic (VARK). I bet that you’re familiar with this concept — you’ll even see individuals’ learning preferences show up in subtle ways. For example, how many times have you heard a friend or colleague say, “Can you show me what you mean?” or “Let me write this down so I remember it”? Perhaps you know someone who likes to talk through a concept while they’re learning (a la the fictional Dr. House). Each of these examples clearly illustrates different learning styles.

What is VARK?

VARK is the acronym for the learning styles: visual, auditory, reading, and kinesthetic. The VARK questionnaire is a popular way for individuals to discover what their learning preferences are and how to utilize them for knowledge comprehension. You can take the questionnaire yourself to discover your own learning preferences, as well as have your class fill out the questionnaire.

What are the learning styles?

While there are many different approaches to learning styles, one of the most widely recognized systems is VARK, which breaks learning styles down into four basic categories:

  • Visual learners retain new information through text, images, and visual representations of concepts (i.e., graphs, pictures, and diagrams).
  • Aural or auditory learners take in information through sounds, stories, discussions, lecture-style presentation, podcasts, and the like.
  • Read/write learners use lists, note taking, and text to learn information.
  • Kinesthetic learners information through physical action, sometimes in the form of hand-eye coordination, walking while studying, and making 3×5 cards to study.

Many teachers struggle to appeal to all different learning styles in a single class, which leaves some students at a disadvantage. This is where multimodal learning comes into play.

READ MORE: Digital-Age Learning Culture — Rethinking the Traditional Classroom

What is a multimodal learning preference?

Studies have shown that students learn best when educators appeal to different learning styles at the same time, which is possible through multimodal learning. Multimodal learning engages the brain in multiple learning styles at once using various media.

For example, a video lesson with subtitles and a downloadable information sheet leverages visual, auditory, and written learning styles. By combining the various ways students learn, teachers can create an ideal learning environment for many students at once. To take it one step further, a multimodal learning strategy is even more effective in knowledge gathering than using just one learning style. That’s a win-win-win situation!

David Lazear, author and expert in multiple intelligences, summed up the importance and value of a multimodal learning strategy when he said,

“What does multi-modal learning mean? In a nutshell, it means that the more different ways you learn something the more you will really learn it! The more different ways you learn something, the more you will remember it! The more different ways you learn something, the more you will genuinely understand it!” (Lazear, 2008)

What are the benefits of multimodal learning?

Research has shown that learning in multiple ways reinforces knowledge comprehension, underlining the need for a multimodal learning strategy in classrooms. From a more qualitative standpoint, multimodal learning creates a more exciting and all-encompassing learning environment for students. They aren’t forced to learn in a way that doesn’t jive with their particular learning style, which increases engagement with the course content.

Plus, multimodal learning opens the door to including all different kinds of fun and exciting media into your classroom. From videos to interactive graphs, multimodal learning strategies can leverage the technology and digital learning tools that students love using. Did you know that students prefer technology in the classroom, according to McGraw-Hill Education’s fourth annual Digital Study Trends Survey? So, don’t be afraid to leverage technology and digital learning tools to enhance your multimodal learning strategy.

READ MORE: What Are the Benefits of Technology in the Classroom?

SolidProfessor’s online training uses multimodal learning to increase comprehension and retention of information

At SolidProfessor, we understand that learning at your own pace and through various styles is the foundation of effective learning. It’s the opportunity to learn in visual, auditory, written, and kinesthetic ways that make SolidProfessor a unique training solution and so much more impactful than one-dimensional learning experiences. Here’s how it works in four simple steps:

  1. Excite your students’ curiosity through interactive exercises and downloadable files that accompany our video-based courses. These appeal to the visual, auditory, written, and kinesthetic learning styles.
  2. Tailor lesson plans to your students’ needs. You can easily build and modify your online program for students, assigning courses to supplement your in-class lessons. Then, you can monitor student progress from a single dashboard.
  3. Set your students up for success in the workplace by helping them earn industry-recognized certifications through SolidProfessors’ online training.
  4. Measure and track students’ progress to ensure they’re retaining information and developing their skills in line with state and industry standards.

Knowing that multimodal learning allows for a deeper understanding of a concept, it’s no surprise that SolidProfessor’s video tutorials, hands-on practice exercises, walk-throughs, case studies, and project files receive such positive feedback from students. SolidProfessor students also have a much higher pass rate on software certification exams than those who don’t use our certification preparation courses.

Next time you learn (or teach) something, experiment with how many different learning styles you can incorporate. Learn well!

READ MORE: Comprehensive List of STEM and Technology Grants for Teachers

Multimodal Learning Meets Blended Learning: The Future of Engineering Education

In recent years, multimodal learning and the role of technology in the classroom have been popular discussion points amongst educators. In this white paper, we’ll explore the benefits of multimodal learning, specifically as it applies to engineering education. Next, we’ll take a look at blended learning and the critical role it plays in bringing multimodal education to the classroom.

Matt May
Matt May

About the Author

Matt May

SolidProfessor Director of Sales and golf addict.