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A Review of Multmodal Learning Styles

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A Review of Multimodal Learning Style and Strategies
The multimodal learning style is highly adaptive and is the most common type of learning style. It can encompass a strong preference two or more of the styles, or an equal preference for all of the 4 learning styles: aural, visual, read/write and kinesthetic. According to Fleming, students who prefer the multimodal learning style tend to fall into two categories: the context specific approach and the whole-sense approach. (Fleming, 2011, para.2). These two approaches are not strictly delineated; there are often some transitional areas between each style.
In the context specific approach, the student will choose one of the four learning style that best suits the immediate situation, or context of the situation. Learning is done concentrating on one style in their group of preferred styles that fit the situation best. Problems arise when the style chosen is the incorrect. The student using the context specific approach needs to be aware of which mode they are using to be able to switch to the appropriate mode when having difficulty in understanding material. In the whole sense approach, the student combines multiple learning styles to fit the need of the situation. They use many routes to ensure the learning is completely understood and retained. This can cause some problems as using the multiple styles can lengthen the time it takes for the multimodal learner to feel sure they have learned the subject and if material is not available to be presented in multiple forms, the multimodal learner may not be able to understand the material as fully. Fleming (Fleming & Mills, 1992, p. 137) states that due to the nature of multimodal learning incorporating different types of learning methods that learners need to intellectual conformation from multiple modes before they are satisfied; whereas a single preference learner would be academically satisfied by one mode.
The multimodal learner can be further classified as having an approach that is “deep, or surface” with the majority of the whole sense approach learners using the combined variety of learning styles to achieve a wider view and deeper understanding of content while the context specific approach learners having a higher incidence of just enough retention of material to satisfy short term needs. ("Deep/Surface," n.d.).
A comparison of the students preferred learning strategies to the strategies identified in their preferred learning style could yield new and productive modes of gaining a deeper understanding. For example, student A is a multimodal learner with a preference to the kinesthetic and read-write styles. Student A is assigned a learning task. She/he usually reads all directions first, makes lists and outlines of what needs to be reviewed, creates a time line to ensure all parts of the tasks will be complete as directed, reads all assigned materials in an area with few interruptions or distractions, does additional research on line on any point or data that is not immediately clear, writes flash cards of key points and proof reads or reviews the end product of learning several times to ensure complete understanding.
A kinesthetic learner learns best when all senses are engages. Hands on activities, using real life examples, drawing pictures and grafts, and relating the information to the student’s own experiences all help the kinesthetic learner retain information. Student A exhibits kinesthetic style in the flash card making, outlines and time lines created, and in the choice of physical environment used for study.
A read-write learner absorbs information through written forms: lists, reading texts or handouts, detailed note taking, power points, and additional resources like paper or online articles about the subject. Student A also uses some of the strategies of this style with the additional research on the topic, multiple proof reading of written content, and reading of all assigned texts or handouts.
Review of the learning strategies of both the read-write and the kinesthetic learning styles shows helpful strategies not currently used by Student A. This student can also benefit by incorporating several learning strategies from each style. The kinesthetic strategy of relating the information to their own life experiences and finding real life examples would help Student A to retain and recall information as it is attached to real life references the student has already internalized. Using the read-write strategies of rewriting information several times and turning the content of a graph or diagram into a written summary would help Student A clarify and retain understanding of that content.
Using the VARK Learning Style Assessment is a helpful tool for any learner. It gives helpful information that allows the student insights into how they learn and offers strategies to make the most of that learning style and avoid the problems that can be associated with that style. It is also very helpful for a student to understand that there are other learning styles and be aware of the focus of those learning styles. This aids in translating information given in another style in to the student’s style for optimum learning and also helps the student translate their style to accommodate the learning style of another when teaching information.

References
Deep and Surface Approaches to Learning. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://exchange.ac.uk/learning-and-teaching-theory-guide/deep-and-surface-approaches-learning.html
Fleming, N. D., & Mills, C. (1992). Not Another Inventory, Rather a Catalyst for Reflection. To Improve the Academy, 11(), 137.
Fleming, N. D. (2011). VARK: A Review of Those Who Are Multimodal. Retrieved from http://www.vark-learn.com/english/page_content/multimodality.htm…...

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