Teachers aware of their own Learning Styles

In this article by The Chronicle of Higher Education, several psychologists reiterate the same old story once again: Learning Style approaches are wrong because there is no evidence.

If they had watched this film on Critical Thinking, they would have learned that this black and white binary thinking (true or false, evidence or not), leads to flawed conclusions, and “often reflects an underlying intolerance of ambiguity” (3:58).

“Critical thinkers can wait for valid evidence.” (4:21)

Fortunately, the article also cites critics such as R. Sternberg (a honorary professor of my university whom I mentioned repeatedly), and more differentiated views. Beyond the black & white choice of

  • Matching Teaching Style to Learning Style, or
  • Ignoring learning styles

there are promising other approaches:

“What we do try to get professors to do,” Ms. Rundle says, “and where we’ve been successful, is to become aware of their own learning style and how that affects the way they teach.” (Chronicle article)

With such teachers who are aware of their own styles, empirical studies on learning styles would probably be less biased and would IMHO soon yield the desired evidence.

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5 Responses to Teachers aware of their own Learning Styles

  1. Well said, and I resonate in that” where we’ve been successful, is to become aware of their own learning style and how that affects the way they teach” Even with our research evidence on the learner style, I (we) would have to be cautious in drawing conclusions – surely not based on the black and white binary thinking. Also, we learnt that we are experimenting ALL the time, especially with research and surveys, and there are complexity and emergence factors which would lead to different results. It is too easy to rely on intuition and early judgement rather than logical reasoning with evidence, and critical thinking.

    Thanks for this wonderful gift.
    John

  2. Dorit Sasson says:

    I am doing a keynote on this exact same topic. As teachers, we should provide a variety of learning experiences so we can match instruction to content not necessarily to learning styles as that can cause great frustration. There are so many different learning styles in the classroom!

    Dorit Sasson
    Make Your Teaching Sparkle. Teach for Success. Make a difference in the classroom.

    Subscribe to receive your FREE e-zine and e-book, “Taking Charge in the Classroom” when you visit the New Teacher Resource Center at http://www.newteachersignup.com.

  3. Then there is little doubt that you can make a quick $1,000. Will Thalheimer has had this challenge for three years and no one has yet won it:

    “It has been over three years since I offered $1,000 to anyone who could demonstrate that utilizing learning styles improved learning outcomes. Click here for the original challenge.”

    http://www.willatworklearning.com/2009/09/learning-styles-challenge-threeyear-update.html

  4. And here’s a four year old conversation on learning styles, with excellent references, that may be useful:

    http://metatime.blogspot.com/2005/12/learning-styles-ha-ha-ha.html

  5. x28 says:

    Harold, thank you for the links. They showed me that I may have been too optimistic expecting results “soon”, because the two camps are very far apart. For the same reason, however, they reinforced my view that bias is a big problem for the empirical studies.
    John, thank you for the encouragement.

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