Your Learning Styles?

Education and neuroscience overlap and have been a conversation topic among researchers everywhere. Different methods of teaching our children are promoted everywhere. Neuroscientists came up with the notion that different children use different styles of learning.

What are learning styles?

A learning style is how you understand the material.    What would it take for you to study something?  It is your type of learning mechanism. Learning style-studying advocate that material is tailored to match the way that each child learns.   Children report their preferences in a questionnaire.

It makes sense, intuitively, because everyone is different and everyone, therefore, should learn in different ways.  Ultimately, there might seem to be some truth in this.  According to this theory, a child can be a visual learner if he must see what he is doing.  He learns by writing and looking at pictures, even drawing them himself.

A child can also be an auditory learner:  he wants to hear the material. He learns by talking to himself or taping the information to be played back.   There is a third way of learning:   A kinesthetic learner learns by moving. She/He wants to make something concrete, this is the way she/he learns best.  She/He wants to be able to throw a ball or walk up and down while he is learning.

It was said that a specific learning style for an individual will enhance his pace of learning.   If you study in the way that helps you remember best, you will retain the information for longer. However, recent research has shown that there is no evidence to back up the idea of these different learning styles.

What is the problem?  

Learning styles are not formally described, no formal framework exists to describe preferred learning styles.

Up until now, individuals categorized themselves into one of the three different styles by providing answers in a questionnaire.    In reality, other studies found that there are more than 70 other models that students use while studying.   One example is the “left brain, right brain” theory.

Students can change

Learning is not fixed!  Students can adapt and teach themselves to new methods of studying.

Also, not one method has been proven to be the best. A single student might learn in more than one way.  For some subject, he might prefer the visual method and for another, it would help him to hear the material. This is not addressed in the theory of learning styles by the provide questionnaire.

No credible evidence

Most importantly, systematic studies of the effectiveness of learning styles have found no or very weak evidence to support the hypothesis.   Learner’s marks did not improve significantly because they received material in formats true to their ‘style’. Students will improve if they think about their learning preferences, but not because they receive materials in certain formats.

Are learning styles a myth?

It seems so, yes.  They create a false impression of individuals’ abilities.   There is some truth in the fact that different children might find certain methods easier to use, but the scientific evidence suggests that the different styles are a myth.

The way forward

Attention must be drawn to practices that are not backed up by evidence. In the end, good old-fashioned research should be the answer.    When scientists have a certain hypothesis, they must back it up with commissioned research to give their facts credibility.



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