Wednesday, May 7, 2014

The Myth of Learning Styles

I had always believed that different students had different learning styles—for example, visual kinesthetic, linguistic. Apparently, I have been wrong.

Here is a column from Education week, reporting that research fails to support my incorrect beliefs. Here is an excerpt:

In his guest blog, Howard Gardner [formerly a proponent of learning styles] went on to offer some better suggestions as we all move forward away from the learning style approach. He wrote,

  • Individualize your  teaching as much as possible. Instead of "one size fits all,"      learn as much as you can about each student, and teach each person in ways      that they find comfortable and learn effectively. Of course this is easier      to accomplish with smaller classes. But 'apps' make it possible to      individualize for everyone.
  • Pluralize your teaching. Teach important materials in several ways, not just one (e.g.      through stories, works of art, diagrams, role play). In this way you can      reach students who learn in different ways. Also, by presenting materials      in various ways, you convey what it means to understand something well. If      you can only teach in one way, your own understanding is likely to be      thin.
  • Drop  the term "styles" It will      confuse others and it won't help either you or your students.

For many years, educators, including me, were under the false notion that there were learning styles. It's harmful if we box students into one way of learning, because that creates a one-size-fits-all mentality. However, offering different ways of learning is really helpful to students because they need to take in information in a variety of ways. 

You can read more here. And from LearnDash, here is an infograph summariziing current thinking. I’m not fully convinced, I admit.


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