While some people prefer to learn by taking in information via videos or actions, some prefer reading and writing to help information sink in. These learners are said to have a reading and writing learning style, as outlined in the VARK framework. VARK stands for Visual, Auditory, Read/Write and Kinaesthetic, which refers to the different learning styles we have and how we prefer to acquire knowledge.
There is naturally an overlap with each of these learning styles, but Neil Fleming – who introduced the theory – has suggested that there is a dominant one in each of us.
This article will investigate the reading and writing learning style and how teachers can adapt their teaching lessons to meet the needs of their students.
A quick recap on learning styles
The other learning styles include:
- Kinaesthetic learners – who tend to learn through feeling.
- Auditory learners – who learn through hearing and speaking.
- Visual learners – who tend more towards images.
Students who fall into the reading and writing style thrive when they learn through the use of notes and textbooks as their primary source of learning.
What is a reading and writing learning style?
If a child, young person or adult is a read/write learner, their understanding of new topics improves through reading and writing about key ideas, definitions and concepts. Furthermore, these learners generally find it far easier to retain information by using summaries and repetition, rereading and rewriting things many times to consolidate concepts in their minds by physically noting it down on paper.
How do I know if I have a reading and writing learning style?
The easiest way to establish if you have a read/write learning style is through self-reflection. Firstly, think about whether you enjoy engaging in reading and writing tasks, be it for work or pleasure. If you feel that these activities come naturally to you, it’s likely that you are inclined towards a reading and writing style of learning.
Then, think about your past experiences of studying for tests or learning important information. If you found that you preferred to take notes, make revision or flash cards and read relevant publications about the topic in question, this is another strong indication that you’re best able to process information whilst reading or writing.
Traits of a reading and writing learner
Read/write learners are more detail-oriented than other students. They are analytical and reflective, taking time out to independently process information on their own.
Here are some common traits that reading/writing learners exhibit:
- They enjoy reading and note-taking – This is not a random activity for them, as they selectively process and retain new information through examining written details which they then manipulate and transcribe into their notes.
- They’re detail-oriented – Read/write learners are quick to spot errors or inconsistencies and write detailed notes that are error-free or include plenty of questions.
- They’re reflective – Students will often enjoy reflecting on what they have learned, going over the material and extracting the meaning and intent behind what they have written or read.
- They like working independently – These students need time to quietly read, process, and reflect on their work alone.
- They have strong analytical skills – With their ability to break down complex information into small, more manageable pieces, these learners may find getting to grips with core concepts easier than their peers with other learning styles..
How to teach children with a reading and writing learning style
It’s all very well being able to identify learners with particular learning strategies, but implementing a plan to incorporate it into your lesson plans is another thing.
Here are a few ways that you can ensure that your teaching style aligns with your student’s learning style:
- Written instructions – By providing clear and concise written instructions, these students will be able to tackle assignments, tasks and projects far more easily.
- Encourage note-taking – Make sure that you give learners ample time to take notes, especially if you give instructions at the end of a lesson for follow-up work or assignments.
- Use visual aids appropriately – Learners will benefit from visual aids that are textual in nature. Using charts, diagrams and graphs that include plenty of written content will help them to better understand concepts.
- Actively encourage reading – These learners will benefit from a focus on reading books, articles and other material relevant to the subject. Provide a list of supplementary books or articles to help students expand their knowledge.
- Provide writing assignments – Make sure that you have plenty of written assignments scheduled into your teaching plan. Then encourage learners to expound on their ideas, organize their material, and re-write them until they are clear and concise.
It’s important to remember that each student has a unique learning style that will benefit from a flexible and adaptable teaching approach – so it’s important to curate lessons full of variety, with activities that will benefit all learners.
Things you should avoid when teaching reading/writing learners
As teachers, we have a natural tendency to plan and deliver lessons that align with our own personal learning style. Whilst this is completely understandable, as it will be what feels most comfortable for us as individuals, it’s not always the approach that achieves optimum results when faced with a classroom full of students.
By doing this, you run the risk of boring your pupils, resulting in them disengaging and becoming frustrated. To prevent loss of interest or lack of motivation, approach complex subjects and dense material with a multi-faceted approach.
Creating a balanced learning experience, incorporating visual aids, group work and multi-media resources are all proven ways in which to enhance traditional reading and writing instruction whilst making lessons more accessible for other types of learners, too.
How to engage reading and writing learners of all ages
How to engage reading and writing learners in primary school
To encourage student engagement among primary school learners, your teaching approach should include a variety of learning styles.
Here are some strategies that may effectively engage reading and writing learners in primary school:
- Offer children a wide variety of reading material including books, magazines and comics.
- Make use of charts and diagrams which allow children to visualise the material combined with textual explanations.
- Provide creative writing opportunities by giving them prompts which encourage journaling as well as writing stories and poems.
- Use different coloured pens and include bullet points to aid memory retention.
- Incorporate interactive activities like acting out stories or playing games that reinforce the concepts learned.
How to engage reading and writing learners in secondary school
By the time learners reach secondary school, they have usually developed a learning methodology that incorporates a dominant style with which they are comfortable.
Allow learners a choice of reading materials. Let them choose which novels, biographies, newspapers, or online resources are relevant to their interests.
Encourage students to engage with the text, making summaries, taking notes and highlighting important or pertinent facts.
How to engage reading and writing learners in higher education
In higher education, whilst students gain a far greater level of autonomy with regard to how they learn, they will usually fall back on tried and tested means to understand and remember the course content.
However, there are still opportunities for educators to engage reading and writing learners by:
- Incorporating collaborative writing and peer review into the course material.
- Offering a diverse range of reading materials including primary sources that cater to different perspectives.
- Utilising multimedia resources such as videos, podcasts, and online presentations.
- Using tutoring and workshops as they encourage both discussion and debate.
While a lot more of the responsibility is on students to work in a style that works best for them in a higher education environment, there are still plenty of ways to engage university students through creating varied, engaging lectures and seminars.
Benefits of having a reading and writing learning style
There are numerous benefits to being a read/write learner. These students tend to have strong language skills and enjoy expressing themselves through written communication.
They are effective note-takers who can summarise complex concepts as well as organise detailed and accurate notes.
Read/write learners use their style of learning to efficiently learn and process new information. This improves their decision-making skills as they can incorporate new data and ideas into their current database of knowledge.
How to plan lessons that accommodate reading and writing learners
To accommodate learners with a reading and writing style, lesson plans should prioritise reading and writing activities.
You can include graphic elements such as mind maps, flow charts and concept maps to help learners understand and remember complex ideas.
By encouraging note-taking, learners will more easily retain and remember the information.
Classroom activities for reading and writing learners
Learners across age groups can benefit from instruction in writing skills such as journaling or vocabulary building.
Make time for reading groups and assign books to students so that they can share their insights with the class. This is especially helpful for auditory learners as well.
Use writing prompts and note-taking strategies to help learners to develop their abilities in these areas. You can accomplish this by introducing lists, outlining, concept maps, and the Cornell method.
With the ever-increasing demands on their time, educators are turning to technology to help them cope with increased workloads.
What is the Cornell method?
Named after the famous university, the Cornell Method is a system of note-taking that discourages students from writing in long sentences – instead encouraging short notes written in columns using abbreviations and symbols.
Using technology to appeal to reading and writing learners
With advancements in technology and online learning, a variety of tools are now available to teachers and learners that enhance and improve their ability to engage with learning materials.
Educators are now seeing the benefit of classrooms equipped with an interactive display, also known as an interactive whiteboard. These digital display boards enable teachers to display and manipulate multimedia content, including images, videos, and text.
Interactive whiteboards, like the Promethean ActivPanel, offer teachers the opportunity to help improve learner outcomes by making their lessons more interactive, engaging, and immersive. They can receive immediate feedback by collaborating with students and customising their instructions in writing based on each student’s needs.
Gamification is a term used to describe the use of game design elements and mechanics in non-game contexts, such as education. Learners whose dominant style incorporates reading and writing find that gamification makes learning more engaging, motivating, and fun.
With the proliferation of online learning, classrooms resourced with computers allow for a tailored approach to learning.
Adaptive learning software assesses a student’s knowledge and skills and identifies areas of weakness. Learners are then provided with tailored learning activities to help them improve.
To summarise, when identifying a reading and writing learning style, you should look out for the following traits in students:
- Enjoying reading and note-taking
- Being detail-orientated
- Being reflective
- Preferring to work independently
- Having strong analytical skills
Integrating the following tasks and methods into your teaching will help to better engage reading and writing learners:
- Providing written instructions
- Encouraging note-taking
- Using visual aids appropriately
- Encouraging reading
- Planning written assessments
As well as students who learn best from reading and writing, the VARK framework also identifies visual, auditory and kinaesthetic learners too. Discover more about these in our Ultimate Guide to Learning Styles in the Classroom.
Explore more on engaging students in the Promethean blog, which includes articles such as 10 Reasons for a Lack of Student Engagement in the Classroom, How to Engage Students Without Relying Solely on Technology, and 9 tips on engaging shy and quiet students.
FAQs about reading and writing learners
Can you have multiple learning styles at once?
It is common for a person to have a combination of two or more learning styles, with one being dominant. For example, you may be a predominantly kinaesthetic learner who also finds it helpful to watch videos to consolidate learning.
Is it good to be a reading and writing learner?
Individuals with this style of learning can process and retain information effectively through reading, writing, and note-taking. This helps them to excel in both academic settings, as well as in their careers that require critical thinking and effective communication.