Learning Styles: links to online resources debating and discouraging use in the classroom

Do you or any of your colleagues still advocate the use of learning styles theory or tools in the classroom?

I got the chance to explain my views against learning styles in a staff meeting this morning. I pleaded that staff in our college directorate not use learning style quizzes with students at the beginning of the next academic year, basically because it causes a fundamental problem and allows students to think and make statements like: “Well I’m kinaesthetic so I can’t do English”. Obviously it’s not a great start to the year when that happens. I’ve been naïve in the past to think that the anti learning styles rhetoric was too strong on Twitter, but now I just feel as though the existence of learning styles theory has created far more trouble than it’s worth, right there in my classroom. Yes, learners might prefer to watch TV or be out playing football, but it doesn’t mean they can’t learn by reading and writing. In fact if we suggest the opposite we have failed them. If any of you are interested in finding out more behind these thoughts, please see the links below. If anyone has any other links to blog pieces etc debating the use of learning styles, please share in comments below.

Thanks, Carol

Very accessible YouTube video, easy to understand in a nutshell why we should back off from using learning styles quizzes etc in our classes:

YouTube Video Link 1) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sIv9rz2NTUk

This is a video by David Willingham, who argues against learning styles based on evidence provided by the field of neuroscience. The main crux of the argument being that we don’t actually learn via the “styles” suggested at all. We may have preferences about how we receive information and knowledge, but that is detached from how we actually learn.

Easy to read blog pieces, very well written and argued:

Blog Link 1) http://www.learningspy.co.uk/learning/overestimate-importance-differences/

David DIdau argues cogently against being duped by learning styles theory

Blog link 2) http://www.researched2013.co.uk/why-are-we-still-talking-about-learning-styles/

New behaviour Tsar, Tom Bennett, here argues against VAK. He hates it.

Blog link 3) https://community.tes.co.uk/tom_bennett/b/weblog/archive/2014/04/23/zombie-bollocks-world-war-vak-isn-39-t-over-yet.aspx

Tom Bennett on an anti-VAK spleen vent again.

Blog link 4) https://community.tes.co.uk/tom_bennett/b/weblog/archive/2014/04/26/the-empire-strikes-vak-how-far-does-this-rabbit-hole-go.aspx

Tom Bennett raging against VAK.

Some academic papers, harder to digest, but worthwhile scanning:

Paper 1) http://www.psychologicalscience.org/journals/pspi/PSPI_9_3.pdf

The authors of this research paper conclude that at present, there is no adequate evidence base to justify incorporating learning styles assessments into general educational practice. Thus, limited education resources would better be devoted to adopting other educational practices that have a strong evidence base, of which there are an increasing number.

Paper 2) http://www.voced.edu.au/content/ngv%3A12401

Should we be using learning styles?: what research has to say to practice, Paper by Frank Cofield

Paper 3) http://www.nature.com/nrn/journal/v15/n12/full/nrn3817.html – you will need journal paper access to this one, but it’s about the myths of neuroscience and education, by Paul A Howard Jones.

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