Good Read: No evidence to back idea of “learning styles” (The Guardian)

By Andrew Pillow

It is not uncommon to walk into a classroom on the first day of school and see a teacher distributing a student survey. Almost always one, of the questions is something along the lines of: “What kind of learning style do you have?” or “Are you a visual learner or auditory learner?”.

All these questions subscribe to the idea of distinct learning styles. Unfortunately for the teachers giving these surveys… there is no scientific evidence to support the theory of different learning styles.

Several professors via the Guardian sum up the scientific research on learning styles:

“There are, however, a number of problems with the learning styles approach. First, there is no coherent framework of preferred learning styles. Usually, individuals are categorised into one of three preferred styles of auditory, visual or kinesthetic learners based on self-reports. One study found that there were more than 70 different models of learning styles including among others, “left v right brain,” “holistic v serialists,” “verbalisers v visualisers” and so on. The second problem is that categorising individuals can lead to the assumption of fixed or rigid learning style, which can impair motivation to apply oneself or adapt.
Finally, and most damning, is that there have been systematic studies of the effectiveness of learning styles that have consistently found either no evidence or very weak evidence to support the hypothesis that matching or “meshing” material in the appropriate format to an individual’s learning style is selectively more effective for educational attainment.”
Read more here.

Andrew Pillow

Andrew is a technology teacher at KIPP Indy College Prep. He is graduate of the University of Kentucky and a Teach for America Alum. Andrew just recently finished his commitment as a Teach Plus Policy fellow, and he is looking forward to putting the skills he's learned to good use. Andrew has written for several publications in the past on a wide variety of topics but will be sticking to education for his role on Indy/Ed.