There really isn’t much of question about the validity of so-called “learning styles” in the way they are usually discussed in education — they don’t exist.
However, I do get concerned that the often almost gleeful pummeling of them can be done without acknowledgment of the reality of our classrooms – many of our students do indeed require different teaching methodologies – a one size fits all mentality just doesn’t work. That doesn’t mean we have to buy-into the pseudo-science of “learning styles,” but it does mean that – in many ways – we need to differentiate (see The Best Resources On Differentiating Instruction) and personalize instruction (not necessarily by tech – see The Best Resources For Understanding “Personalized Learning”).
I was prompted to post this list after seeing an excellent piece on the topic at this month’s issue of ASCD Educational Leadership. It’s headlined Research Matters / Learning Styles: It’s Complicated and is written by Bryan Goodwin and Heather Hein.
In many ways, it reminded me a similar piece written by Heather Wolpert-Gawron several years ago titled Studies Find There’s No Such Thing As Learning Styles – As Teachers, Should We Care? (you’ll definitely want to read the comments section there, too). I posted about it at the time it came out, too.
Also, check out Beyond Learning Styles & Multiple Intelligences from Middleweb.
Let me restate, though, that, despite my belief in the necessity of differentiated instruction, the straitjacket categories often described as learning styles have little or no research evidence. If you doubt that, check out:
Teachers must ditch ‘neuromyth’ of learning styles, say scientists at The Guardian.
Are ‘Learning Styles’ a Symptom of Education’s Ills? at The New York Times.
The Myth of ‘Learning Styles’ is from The Atlantic.
The Problem with “Learning Styles” is from Scientific American.
Are You a Visual or an Auditory Learner? It Doesn’t Matter is by Daniel Willingham.
‘Neuromyth’ or Helpful Model? is a useful article at Inside Higher Ed about “learning styles.”
Ineffective ‘learning styles’ theory persists in education is from Science Daily.
What do you think?