--Original published at Garrettscollegeblog
For all of high school and now even into college, many students use a similar excuse when receiving a poor grade. They say, “This teacher just doesn’t cater to my style of learning!” A large amount of students and teachers stress this idea that students possess specific learning styles, which allow for a greater understanding as well as further retention. They feel that if the teacher fails to gratify the needs of the student, then the student will not succeed. Others, however, do not believe in the idea of specific learning styles. They believe that narrowing learning to one specific style potentially harms and damages the learner.
Shannon Ellington and David S. Benders published a literature review that discusses the importance of learning styles. The review proceeds to address the many advantages that flow from teachers addressing specific styles. The point they discuss the most focuses attention to studies showing the importance of matching teaching styles to learning styles. Each study expressed an increase in class enjoyment and involvement when learning styles paired with the teaching style. Along with that, the studies showed higher achievement and willingness to learn in these congruent situations between student and teacher.
“How You Learn” presented by the University of Minnesota leans its focus towards the importance of learning styles in a college setting. In college, classrooms are much more student-oriented than teacher-oriented. With that, students possess the ability to approach each class with their specific style of learning to fulfill their potential to succeed. For example, a visual and reading/writing learner will take in depth notes from individual reading as well as graphs and charts shown in class. This article continues on and gives tips to students when experiencing an assignment or lecture that contradicts their specific style, such as an auditory learner being asked to do a hands-on experiment.
Many people tend to believe that these specific learning styles fail to maximize retention and memory. The Atlantic published an article titled “The myths of ‘learning styles’” that denies the idea that learning styles actually aid in memory. The article discusses a study published in the British Journal of Psychology that finds no correlation between learning style and information retention. The subjects in the study suggest that auditory learners remember words better whereas visual learners remember pictures better. After reviewing the study the author writes, “Essentially, all the ‘learning style’ meant, in this case, was that the subjects liked words or pictures better, not that words or pictures worked better for their memories.”(khazan, 10)
“The Concept of Different ‘Learning Styles’ is one of the Greatest Neuroscience Myths” by Olivia Goldhill of Quartz critiques the myth of learning styles in education. In the article, Goldhill quotes Harold Pashler, a psychology professor at UC San Diego, who says, “Although the literature on learning styles in enormous, very few studies have even used an experimental methodology capable of testing learning styles applied to education. Moreover, of those who did use an appropriate method, several found results that flatly contradict the popular meshing hypothesis.” This quote fully exposes the idea as a myth. Lack of evidence makes learning styles in educational practice useless.
In my opinion, learning styles are a myth that can potentially damage the learner. The second paragraph in this post mentions studies in support of learning styles. The fifth paragraph then addresses these studies and research shows that these studies lack validity and the ability to make causal claims. On the topic of damaging the learner, if a person is prevented from the learning styles in education because they are being catered to their preferred style, the person lacks the ability to learn in the other styles. This can cause major problems outside of education when a person must learn something new for a job or as a parent.
Ellington, Shannon & Benders, David. (2012). Learning Style and it’s importance in Education.https://www.researchgate.net/publication/256022625_Learning_Style_and_it’s_importance_in_Education.
[Authors removed at request of original publisher]. “College Success.” University of Minnesota Libraries Publishing, University of Minnesota Libraries Publishing Edition, 2016. This Edition Adapted from a Work Originally Produced in 2010 by a Publisher Who Has Requested That It Not Receive Attribution., 4 Dec. 2015, open.lib.umn.edu/collegesuccess/chapter/1-3-how-you-learn/.
Khazan, Olga. “The Myth of ‘Learning Styles’.” The Atlantic, Atlantic Media Company, 12 Apr. 2018, www.theatlantic.com/science/archive/2018/04/the-myth-of-learning-styles/557687/.
Goldhill, Olivia. “The Concept of Different ‘Learning Styles’ Is One of the Greatest Neuroscience Myths.” Quartz, Quartz, 4 Jan. 2016, qz.com/585143/the-concept-of-different-learning-styles-is-one-of-the-greatest-neuroscience-myths/.