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Multisensory is not VAK

VAK (visual, auditory, kinesthetic) learning styles has been widely discredited. Tim Jay explains the difference between multisensory learning and VAK
These were often labeled visual, auditory, kinesthetic. This kind of practice was recommended by the Department for Education and others, but it’s since been thoroughly discredited. Studies have shown that matching teaching style to preferred learning style is just not an effective way of improving learning. When we talk about learning being multi-sensory, we’re not saying that you should be thinking about learning styles. What we are saying is that it’s important to be aware of different representations, of numbers, for example, and of the connections between them. It’s important to make links between spoken and written forms of number, and representations of numbers on our fingers or on dice.
In science learning, we need to be aware that there are different representations of acceleration, for example. As a formula, as a graph of speed and time, and as a feeling of getting faster. Children are supported to make connections between these kinds of different representations of phenomena and concepts, are gonna construct a more flexible foundation of understanding on which to build.

It is important for students to experience concepts through a variety of senses, to build up a variety of representations and the connections between them.

Supporting students to make connections between these different representations of the same thing can construct a more flexible understanding of the idea, concept or phenomena that is being taught.

This understanding can then be built upon more easily as the student has a number of representations to draw on. This does not mean presenting ideas using different senses all at the same time.


In this video Tim explains how multisensory learning approaches are different from VAK methods of teaching. As we covered in the neuromyths quiz in Week 1, VAK (visual, auditory, kinesthetic) learning styles has been widely discredited (Coffield et al., 2004).
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