Recommended ReadsAugust 17th, 2021

Maybe you’re not just a ‘visual person’: the myth of learning styles

Hannah Stocks
Hannah Stocks, Senior Strategic Designer

Recently I’ve been thinking about how much I rely on visual cues to capture, analyse and organise rafts of information. Since the move to remote working, I’ve wholeheartedly embraced tools like Miro to manage anything from user interview synthesis, strategic framework development and project delivery, to designing and planning my own wedding (yes, I am that person).

Reflecting on this, I began to tell myself the same thing I’m sure many of you have told yourselves in the past – “I’m a visual person, that’s my learning style.” The VARK (visual, aural, read/write, and kinaesthetic) theory originated thirty-odd years ago and suggests that we all have a preferred learning format. Despite its intuitive resonance, it’s been debunked many times.

Evidence suggests that we can oscillate between all the VARK formats if the option is presented to us. Research referenced in this Atlantic article contends that we don’t learn better in any one style, it just feels more comfortable because it’s the one we’ve developed as a study habit.

I found this to be a valuable prompt not to try to categorise myself and to instead actively seek out new ways of learning.

“It’s much better to think of everyone having a toolbox of ways to think, and think to yourself, which tool is best?”

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