Here’s more on the learning styles “myth”. This is from Marshall Memo.
4. Daniel Willingham on the Persistent Learning Styles Myth
In this Education Gadfly article, Daniel Willingham (University of Virginia) reports that 76 percent of U.S. educators (and 93 percent of all adults) still believe that students learn best when they receive information in a preferred learning style. This was discouraging for Willingham, who has been trying to debunk this myth for more than 15 years. He has four theories on why it’s so tenacious:
First, the learning styles theory has achieved the status of one of those ideas that “they” (renowned experts) have figured out. Why doubt it? Textbooks in graduate schools of education don’t explicitly debunk it.
Second, it would be so nice if the theory were true. “It predicts that a struggling student would find much of school work easier if we made a relatively minor change to lesson plans,” says Willingham, “– make sure auditory learners are listening, the visual learners are watching, and so on.”
Third, a close approximation of the learning style theory has some validity. It’s true that some people are better with words, some people with space, some with listening. “The (incorrect) twist that learning styles theory adds,” says Willingham, “is to suggest that everyone can reach the same cognitive goal via these different abilities; that if I’m good with space but bad with words (or better, if I prefer space to words), you can rearrange a verbal task so that it plays to my spatial strength.”
What’s wrong about this theory is that with any intellectual task (for example, remembering a list of nouns), there is a way of accomplishing it that works much better than others, regardless of students’ learning styles. Given the task of remembering words, you could use a verbal strategy (repeating the words to yourself, thinking of meaning, etc.) or a visual strategy (creating a visual image in your mind). Even for people whose learning style profile is not strong in visual imagery, says Willingham, the visual strategy still works better because that’s the nature of the task. “People’s alleged learning styles don’t count for anything in accounting for task performance,” he says, “but the effect of the strategy on a task is huge.”
“3 Reasons Most Teachers Still Believe the Learning Styles Myth” by Daniel Willingham in The Education Gadfly, September 6, 2017 (Vol. 17, #36), http://bit.ly/2fdnr7k; Willingham can be reached at [email protected].