The Inefficacy of Learning Styles

Learn­ing styles, you’ve heard of them before: visu­al, kin­aes­thet­ic or aud­it­ory learners; left and right brain­ers; act­iv­ists, reflect­ors and ana­lysts.

How­ever learn­ing styles are “the­or­et­ic­ally inco­her­ent and con­cep­tu­ally con­fused” con­cluded a 2004 study from the UK’s Learn­ing and Skills Devel­op­ment Agency—an agency set up by the UK gov­ern­ment to “improve the qual­ity of post-16 edu­ca­tion and train­ing”, say­ing:

We should stop using these terms. There’s no sci­entif­ic jus­ti­fic­a­tion for them.

The stud­ies were nev­er pub­lished because of incon­sist­en­cies between the sci­entif­ic evid­ence and gov­ern­ment policy (ahem), but the art­icle above dis­cusses it and offers the fol­low­ing, excel­lent con­clu­sion:

We do stu­dents a ser­i­ous dis­ser­vice by imply­ing they have only one learn­ing style, rather than a flex­ible rep­er­toire from which to choose, depend­ing on the con­text. Learn­ing-style instru­ments vary markedly in qual­ity and some (eg Allin­son and Hayes’s CSI or Entwistle’s Assist) could be used to start a dia­logue with stu­dents about their learn­ing, assess­ment and the pur­poses of edu­ca­tion.

How­ever I want to chal­lenge the notion that we dis­cov­er some­thing worth­while about our stu­dents’ learn­ing by ask­ing 12, 20 or even 80 ques­tions, all devoid of con­text. Instead we need to face up to the com­plex­it­ies involved in teach­ing and learn­ing, which can­not be “delivered” like piz­zas. Stu­dents need know­ledge­able, voca­tion­ally qual­i­fied and caring teach­ers, who can enter into a dia­logue with them about how to become bet­ter learners, as well as what it means to be a paint­er or nurs­ery nurse.

via @bfchirpy

3 thoughts on “The Inefficacy of Learning Styles

  1. Pingback: Learning Styles are bunk. : clusterflock

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