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Time for me to weigh in on this topic as it comes back again and again.
As professionals in the field of supporting "learning" it is our
responsibility to remain current in the research.  

While the VARK is an effective tool to measure perceptual preference,
basing learning and instruction on just that aspect is a limited view of
the brain-mind connection.  I just returned from the 3rd Annual Forum on
Learning in Higher Education hosted by the University of Nevada at Las
Vegas (UNLV) where we had the opportunity to learn about a more
comprehensive learning system:  The Let Me Learn Process.  Along with
several other 2 and 4 year institutions, we have been using this system
here in FL for the past few years and I am about to integrate it into
our tutor-training process.  I encourage you to investigate it further:
www.letmelearn.org  

Also, just a few years ago there was a very comprehensive analysis of
the most widely applied "learning style" instruments and models that was
conducted in the UK by Coffield, et al.  I highly recommend that you
review their report; it is available on line.  They reviewed 71
instruments.  Overall, their conclusions indicated serious psychometric
weaknesses indicated by varying degrees of validity and reliability.
Additionally, they concluded that research associated with learning
styles has been "small scale, non-cumulative, uncritical, and
inward-looking" (Coffield, Moseley, & Ecclestone, 2004c, p. 4).  And
finally, they called attention to the proliferation of concepts as the
source for "confusion, serious failure of accumulated theoretical
coherence, and the absence of well-grounded findings tested through
replication"(p.4).

Their report is worth the read and is available on line at:
http://www.lsda.org.uk/files/PDF/1543.pdf

In response to their criticisms, what I like about the Let Me Learn
system is just that - it is a system that goes beyond formerly limited
views of the brain-mind connection and places the tools and the
responsibility in the hands of the learners. The system offers:

1. An explanation of learning based upon a robust and inclusive
conceptualization of the brain, the mind, and the relationship and
function of each to the other
2.  It includes a lexicon of terms that build a means of communicating
to others an individual's real-time experience with learning.
3.  It fosters responsibility on the part of the learner for using this
awareness of him or herself as a learner.  It is learner center not
teacher centered.  
4.  And, the outcomes of using the model have consistently revealed that
a measurable difference has occurred.  There are over 20 dissertations
completed in addition to other students.  The empirical evidence,
through numbers, anecdotes, interviews, work product, and observable
behaviors is growing.

I will be following our tutors closely as we integrate this system into
their work and report back on the progress.  

Best, 


Pat
 
Patricia A. Maher, Ph. D.
Director, Tutoring and Learning Services
University of South Florida
4202 E. Fowler Ave.
Tampa, FL  33620
(813)974-5141
[log in to unmask] 
 

"We cannot always build our future for our youth, but we can build our
youth for our future."            Franklin D. Roosevelt 


-----Original Message-----
From: Open Forum for Learning Assistance Professionals
[mailto:[log in to unmask]] On Behalf Of Robert Danberg
Sent: Thursday, January 22, 2009 9:23 AM
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: VARK learning styles question

Hi,

I was wondering if anyone could share there experiences with the VARK
learning styles material.  I'm interested in knowing how you used it,
who you use it with, and how the information it gives you and students
gets built on in tutor and student development.

Thanks,
Robert


Robert Danberg
Coordinator, Peer Tutoring and Academic Success
Academic Enrichment Services
Ithaca College
(607) 274-5104
[log in to unmask]

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