What Is a Learning Style Inventory?

Student taking a learning style inventory
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Learning style inventories are designed to help respondents determine which learning style they have. These inventories typically take the form of a questionnaire that focuses on how people prefer to learn. Respondents choose the answers that most closely resemble their own preferences.

How Are Learning Style Inventories Used?

Learning style inventories are based upon the idea that people have different strengths and preferences when it comes to learning.

Many theories exist suggesting that people can be classified based upon their predominant learning 'style.' Most of these ideas propose that all people learn differently and that designing instruction based upon these learning styles can enhance the educational process.

This notion that people possess different learning styles first became a popular concept during the 1970s. Since then, learning style theories have had a tremendous impact on the field of education. Teachers often utilize learning style inventories at the outset of a class to discover more about students and to help students better understand how they learn.

Learning style inventories remain a popular classroom tool despite the fact that research has found little evidence that matching a student's learning preferences to instructional methods produces better educational outcomes. A number of studies have found that students taught according to their identified learning style do no better than students who are not matched to their style.

However, research has supported the idea that people have definite preferences for how they learn new information. At best, learning style inventories might be a way for students to develop study habits that keep them interested and engaged in the learning process. Students may find it useful to discover their preferences and then use this information to hone their study routines.

Visual learners, for example, might benefit from creating symbols, graphs, and other visual information while studying the material in question.

Popular Learning Style Inventories

  • Kolb's Learning Style Inventory (LSI)
    Perhaps one of the best-known and most widely used questionnaires is the Learning Style Inventory (LSI) based upon Kolb's learning styles. The computerized assessment allows students to discover their learning style and also provides information on how educators can use this information to best serve students as well as possible strategies for accommodating different learning styles.
  • Fleming's VARK Learning Style Questionnaire
    In Fleming's VARK learning style model, learners are identified as one of four different types: visual, auditory, reading/writing and kinesthetic. In 1987, he developed a questionnaire based upon his model that was designed to help people learn more about their individual style. The model and questionnaire quickly became very popular among students and educators, and both remain widely used today.
  • Jackson's Learning Styles Profiler (LSP)
    The Learning Style Profiler (LSP) is based upon Chris J. Jackson's hybrid model of learning in personality. Jackson's model suggests that learning styles are influenced by a variety of factors including experience, personal choice and biology. The profiler is designed to assess how people learn at work, so it is often used in organizational and business settings.

What About All Those Online Learning Style Quizzes?

There are also many free online quizzes available online. While these informal questionnaires are a fun way to gain a little more insight in how you like to learn, it is important to realize that most have never been studied or validated in any way.

For example, the About.com Homework Help site offers a fun and interesting learning style quiz based upon the VAK/VARK model.

More Psychology Definitions: The Psychology Dictionary

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