June 20, 2009
Some tips on two commonly used learning styles questionnaires
I have mentioned in a number of postings and presentations that I use the VARK questionnaire for absorption learning styles and the ILS questionnaire for processing and absorption learning styles. A request came in that I share some tips on ASPers using these two questionnaires with their students.
The VARK questionnaire letters stand for Visual, Aural, Read/Write, and Kinesthetic. These four dimensions are all absorption style measurements. Read/Write is the same as Verbal on a number of other instruments. Aural can be used, with additional discussion with students, as a measure for Oral as well. Likewise, Kinesthetic can be used to discuss Tactile learning. Students will be multi-modal (2 or more styles are strong) or single mode (only one style is strong). The link for the VARK questionnaire is: VARK Questionnaire.
The Index of Learning Styles (ILS) surveys Visual and Verbal absorption styles and processing styles for Global or Sequential, Intuitive or Sensing, and Active or Reflective. With ILS, the results are given as oppositional continua showing Mild (1 or 3), Moderate (5 or 7) or Strong (9 or 11) preferences for one of the two styles that are compared. The link for the ILS questionnaire is: Index of Learning Styles.
Both of these questionnaires have the following common characteristics:
- They are free on-line to your students and provide printable results immediately upon submission of the questionnaire answers.
- They are require a relatively short amount of time for students to take them. The VARK is 16 questions, and the ILS is 44 questions. Most students can complete both in 30-45 minutes.
- ASPers can learn to interpret the results easily. Some interpretation information is on the website for each instrument. The results can be easily translated to a law school situation.
- Both suppliers provide information on their websites on copyright permission for ASPers who wish to use the questionnaires with large groups or for research.
Here are some tips when using the instruments with your students:
- Some students have trouble answering the questions because they feel that they would respond differently depending on the situation. I suggest that they answer the questions as they would if they were in an undergraduate academic setting (if first-semester 1Ls) or in a law academic setting (other law students).
- Make sure that students understand that they need to "layer" ALL of their style preferences together to learn best. Some students fixate on one style ("I'm a visual learner.") and ignore the other dimensions that they need to use to their advantage.
- Make sure that students understand that they need to use ALL of the styles even if they are not preferences. They cannot refuse to read cases because they prefer visual over verbal. Both reflective and active thinkers have to answer professor questions in class. The best exam answers or papers will use global, sequential, intutive, and sensing styles even though the writer will only prefer two of those processing styles.
- Make sure that students understand that their non-preferences are "shadow" styles; students can strength their non-preferences with conscious effort and practice.
- Remember that even within a category, a student is unique. "Visual" learners have common traits but will pick different visual strategies because of their own visual score levels and their own "packages" of absorption/processing styles.
- If the results for Visual-Verbal (Read/Write) are different for the VARK and ILS, I go with the ILS score. There are 11 questions on the ILS that look specifically at Visual and Verbal. VARK is only 16 questions total for all four preferences.
- Very occasionally a student will tell me after our interpretation discussion that the questionnaire results are all wrong. However, that happens rarely and is probably indicative of what "setting" the student was considering when the questions were answered.
- Listen carefully to your students. They often provide their own insights that help you learn more about the nuances of learning styles. They also mention strategies that work that you never thought of when considering a style.
If you are new to using these questionnaires and want to discuss interpretation with me after you have read the website information and worked with some students, feel free to get in touch with your questions. (Amy Jarmon)
June 18, 2009
Are you interested in increasing legal profession diversity or in education law?
There are a number of us in academic success who also participate in our law schools’ pipeline efforts with public education, charter schools, colleges, and/or local bar groups. Our goal is to interest minority students in K-12 and university to stay in school and continue their education. Hopefully, a number of the students with whom we work will eventually enroll in law school and increase diversity in the legal profession.
The Education Law/Wingspread Conference (hosted by University of Southern Maine) will be held in Portland, Me July 19 – 22. There is a special Wingspread Consortium track during several days of the conference for those who work with pipeline efforts in law schools. The conference will also interest those of you with specialties in education law. You can refer to the conference website at Education Law/Wingspread Conference or contact Sarah Redfield email@example.com for more information.
I will be at the conference with my pipeline team members from our main TTU campus and a local high school. We will be presenting at several sessions. I hope that we will see some of you there. (Amy Jarmon)
June 16, 2009
Associate Director Position at Pace
Pace University School of Law seeks applicants for the position of Associate Director of Academic Support Program to begin August 1, 2009. This position presents a wonderful opportunity for someone who wants to become a member of a vibrant law school community with a commitment to Opportunitas. Compensation is commensurate with experience.
Minimum requirements are a J.D.; law firm or similar experience; excellent writing and speaking skills; membership in at least one bar and a genuine desire to work closely with students and faculty. Prior academic support experience, teaching experience (e.g., legal writing, Dean’s Scholars or equivalent), membership on law review or moot court and counseling skills are preferred.
The successful candidate will report to the Director of Academic Support and will assist in designing and implementing all aspects of Pace's well established Academic Support Program including: teaching our second and third year Advanced Analytical Skills courses; first year skills workshops; participation in first and second year orientation programs; providing individual writing assistance and counseling; implementing Bar Exam related efforts; assisting the Director in data collection, reports to faculty and administration and development and implementation of new services to enhance our students’ academic performance. The Associate Director will work very closely with the Director of Academic Support in providing all program services to our students.
To apply for this position, please provide a resume, writing sample, and 3 references to:
Jeffrey Miller, Vice Dean for Academic Affairs
Pace Law School
78 North Broadway
White Plains, NY 10603