Saturday, April 7, 2018
“Another nail in the coffin for learning styles” – students did not benefit from studying according to their supposed learning style
It's not a good time to be promoting teaching methods based on so-called "learning styles" (here and here). This post from the website Research Digest, a publication of the British Psychological Society, summarizes a recent study involving "hundreds" of undergrad anatomy students which found that those who employed study techniques congruent with their supposed "learning style" saw no improvement in their course grades compared to students who used study methods incongruent with their learning styles. The study itself can be accessed here. But here's an excerpt from the Research Digest post that summarizes the study's findings:
The idea that we learn better when taught via our preferred modality or “learning style” – such as visually, orally, or by doing – is not supported by evidence. Nonetheless the concept remains hugely popular, no doubt in part because learning via our preferred style can lead us to feel like we’ve learned more, even though we haven’t.
Some advocates of the learning styles approach argue that the reason for the lack of evidence to date is that students do so much of their learning outside of class. According to this view, psychologists have failed to find evidence for learning styles because they’ve focused too narrowly on whether it is beneficial to have congruence between teaching style and preferred learning style. Instead, they say psychologists should look for the beneficial effects of students studying outside of class in a manner that is consistent with their learning style.
For a new paper in Anatomical Sciences Education, a pair of researchers at Indiana University School of Medicine have conducted just such an investigation with hundreds of undergrads. Once again however the findings do not support the learning styles concept, reinforcing its reputation among mainstream psychologists as little more than a myth.
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Continue reading here.
Hat tip to Professor Debbie Borman.