Learning Styles Don't Exist?

Discussion in 'General Education' started by holliday, Aug 29, 2011.

  1. holliday

    holliday Comrade

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    Aug 29, 2011

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  3. 3Sons

    3Sons Enthusiast

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    http://www.npr.org/blogs/health/2011/08/29/139973743/think-youre-an-auditory-or-visual-learner-scientists-say-its-unlikely?ps=sh_stcathdl

    Your link is a bit broken.

    Gardner's learning styles is an interesting idea, but it's never really been borne out by evidence. It's possible that it's true, but that the effect is too subtle to be noticed or tested, or that it's difficult to build instruction which capitalizes on it (though in a sense that's the same thing).

    Or it could just be a waste of time. It wouldn't be the first time a fad had swept through education without any evidence supporting it, only to be later shown to be worthless or even counterproductive.
     
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  4. czacza

    czacza Multitudinous

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    Truthfully, it's not something I've spent much time on assessing. I'm busy enough at the beginning of the year assessing kids' reading and math skills, getting benchmarks of where they on on which to build...Teachers get to know their kids, we accommodate and differentiate to maximize learning...with or without labels.
     
  5. EdEd

    EdEd Aficionado

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    Yeah, it's one of those educational myths :). I do think that some people prefer (and may even be better at) learning through different modalities, but there isn't research to suggest that instruction should be tailored to children's learning styles.

    That being said, there is support for multi-modal instruction, for example with Orton-Gillingham based reading instruction. However, the underlying premise there isn't selecting or modifying interventions based on a learning style (e.g., visual), but on trying to incorporate as many different modalities as possible to increase attention, retention, etc.

    So, it's sort of a fine distinction there - hopefully teachers don't read that and say, "Oh, okay - I don't need to incorporate visual, kinesthetic, and other modalities of learning into my instruction." Rather, it's saying that that time spent on assessing kids learning styles is probably better spent assessing their reading fluency, etc.
     
  6. holliday

    holliday Comrade

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    The problem is that we are required by our district to administer both a multiple intelligences and learning styles inventory. I did both, as mandated, but it's certainly irritating to learn that it was essentially a waste of time. Although, I did learn about my kids through the activities in terms of what subjects they like and what their study habits consist of, so I guess that's a silver lining...
     
  7. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    I wouldn't say that it's a waste of time. I'd say that it hasn't fully been researched yet. My feeling is that any time we give students the tools and knowledge to assess their own learning, to think about how they learn, we're helping them. Most of those inventories come with a list of study techniques and things like that, and those are always good to learn, regardless of learning type.
     
  8. EdEd

    EdEd Aficionado

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    Gotta love district mandates that don't make sense :). I agree with Caesar though, and your assessment - it's not a total loss as there are things to be gained. Probably not a first choice, but given that it's a requirement, seems like you're making the best of it!
     
  9. catnfiddle

    catnfiddle Moderator

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    I forwarded this link to a few of my administrators. Having a learning styles assessment is just about mandatory in our classrooms.
     
  10. TeacherGroupie

    TeacherGroupie Moderator

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    Gardner's not the learning-styles guy, he's the multiple-intelligences guy - but, yes, he's certainly been roundly criticized for assertions that aren't backed by evidence.

    I'm with Caesar: if these inventories help kids be conscious of how they learn, they're not a waste of time. What's more, I'm for them if they help teachers and learners remember to seek a multiple means through which to teach and learn. That is, I think learning styles are ultimately less about an individual learner than they are about ways of grasping particular aspects of content.
     
  11. silverspoon65

    silverspoon65 Enthusiast

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    Gardner is intelligences, not styles, but even he says that you should learn from intelligences that you are weak at because it stretches your thinking, just as you learn from intelligences that you are good at, so I never saw the point in testing for these anyway.

    What I don't understand is the article says not to use "Styles." Well you have to teach in some kind of style. If you are lecturing its auditory and if you use lots of graphics it is visual. You can't not "use" a style. It almost seems to be saying to use an auditory style and not visual.
     
  12. EdEd

    EdEd Aficionado

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    I think the main point is that instruction should not be selected for a particular child based on the learning style of the child. So, using visual, auditory, kinesthetic, etc. styles of instruction is great, but there isn't evidence to support that selecting a specific style for a specific child is going to help.
     
  13. anthrogirl

    anthrogirl Rookie

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    We're moving toward mandatory learning style tests in my school where we'll need to break students up into groups based on their preferred style.

    I'm all for using this along with multiple intelligences to bring some variety and interest into the classroom, but like everything else I don't think it should be THE one tool used in class.
     
  14. bandnerdtx

    bandnerdtx Aficionado

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    Right, anthro. If anything, I would think once you found your preference, you'd want to try *new* styles! How else can we grow unless we force our brains into uncomfortable or unfamiliar areas?
     
  15. karebear76

    karebear76 Habitué

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    Gee, and I spent $12,000 on a master's degree program totally based on Gardner's theory...

    (I haven't read the link...just wanted to post what immediately came to mind)
     
  16. each1teach1

    each1teach1 Cohort

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    Really? A Master's degree completely based on multiple intelligences? Sounds interesting. I actually think Gardner is just part of best teaching practices, in that you're trying to show the material in many different ways to maximize learning. The fact that it's now falling out of favor just follows the educational "silver bullet" trend.
     
  17. karebear76

    karebear76 Habitué

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    Yep. It was pretty interesting. It was a hybrid program, with most classes online, and summer classes for electives.

    My actual degree is a Master's of Education in Classroom Teaching with an emphasis in Fine Arts. I had to incorporate as many of the MIs as possible with each lesson plan. My art classes were fun, as well as my week spent in NYC (best college class I ever had LOL)
     
  18. bros

    bros Phenom

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    What I get from the article is that teaching towards specific styles isn't effective, so you should do multisensory teaching.
     
  19. waterfall

    waterfall Virtuoso

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    I remember hearing that in college. I don't do this for most students, but I do have a few students that really do learn better from one specific style. My philosophy is if I'm seeing evidence right before my eyes that something is working with a particular student, I'm not going to stop doing it because some researcher says it's not a good idea. The most prime example is a student who I really believe has a kinesthetic intelligence. She is identified as SLIC (MR or CD in some states) so she is very low academically across the board. We have a hip-hop dance program that comes in once a week to work with each class, and then the students put on a big performance at the end of the year. At the beginning of the year (the program's first year) last year, they came in and showed my student's class the full 5 minute dance they'd be doing for the end of the year program and jokingly asked if anyone was ready to perform it right then. My student got up and did the entire thing from start to finish after watching it once. All of the teachers that had known this student for years as being really "low" couldn't believe it! She ended up being one of the leaders for the "advanced" crew and even got to dance at the white house- it was a fabulous program for our kids. Anyway, after knowing that, I started incorporating as much movement as possible into my lessons with her and she made some striking improvements. I'd been trying to work on multiplication with her for two months at this point, and was literally getting nowhere. I think she could do maybe 2-3 problems at that point. I started adding a different motion for different numbers/facts and she picked it up so fast it was unbelievable. Her goal had been to get 50 digits in 2 minutes and she passed it within a month. If I can think of a way to add movement into a lesson for her, I do it. I'm certainly not going to go back to what I was (unsuccessfully) doing before because multiple intelligences is apparently not "the thing" anymore. That doesn't mean I'm going to find each student's "intelligence" and only teach them that way- most students respond to a multi-sensory approach. However, like they say...if it ain't broke don't fix it.
     
  20. EdEd

    EdEd Aficionado

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    I don't think any intelligent researcher would say never try something if it makes sense in a given situation, given that you collect data and evaluate the effectiveness of it - I think researchers are concerned with what works on average in a given situation - calculating odds to help those in the field make decisions.

    So, given the state of the research on learning styles, here is something that I think would make sense:

    "Given my knowledge of this particular student, and her history with learning through dance/movement, I'm going to attempt an instructional strategy incorporating that particular learning style, then evaluate the effectiveness in my given context."

    Here is something that would not make sense given the current state of research:

    "I am going to use learning styles as a means of differentiated instruction with all students as a general/core strategy in my classroom."

    I know this isn't the case with you waterfall, but I think sometimes research is misunderstood. Research will rarely, if ever, say that something never works, or that it should never be attempted. Even when an intervention has extremely poor empirical support, there are cases when it does prove effective with a child. So, to me, research informs professional decision-making by advising the professional about the odds of certain decisions being successful under given conditions - not demanding a certain decision be made. Research about a particular intervention under certain conditions is part of the information a professional considers, but it's not the only piece of information.

    More broadly - and not really related to your post waterfall - I think some people make the leap and say, "Well, because research isn't always right, or some research is bad, I'm only going to sort of rely on it, but also rely on my own professional judgement as well." Rather than doing this, it makes more sense to not discard any research, but rather critically consume it - understand the limitations that a particular study has related to informing decision-making in a particular situation.
     
  21. blazer

    blazer Connoisseur

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    We have been riding the VAK horse in the UK for a while now. However now that the ideas are being debunked everything has gone quiet and the whle thing will be allowed to die quietly as if it never existed. Of course now schools are now being managed by the people who rode that horse for all it was worth to get themselves promotions. The multi intelligence thing really didn't flourish over here. It got a bit of attention early on but was just too difficult to impliment. We also went very heavily into Brain Gym in my school. That has now been shown to be totally baseless. We also spent a lot of time on playing Bach to our examination classes and feeding them bananas before tests! We even made the papers with that one! Needless to say the person responsible for that nonsense is now a Principle in her own school!!
     
  22. anna9868

    anna9868 Habitué

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    [QUOTE="waterfall, post: 1513550, member: 64450 My philosophy is if I'm seeing evidence right before my eyes that something is working with a particular student, I'm not going to stop doing it because some researcher says it's not a good idea. [/QUOTE]

    Our principal gave us a very interesting article to read.
    The Science of Learning

    I was very surprised by the last part. They are quite straight about it

    * Students do not have different “learning styles.”
    • Humans do not use only 10% of their brains.
    • People are not preferentially “right-brained” or “leftbrained” in the use of their brains.


    Everything we learned about in college and later on, they just cross it out with their research.

    I don't know. I can't agree about the learning styles as waterfall wrote in her post.
    I can see it in me and my son, for example. I'm highly visual person. I need to see it, I remember your name so much better times better if I see it printed than if you tell it to me (if it's one of those non-standard names)
    My son is really audial learner. He gets information so much better when he hears it instead of seeing.

    What do you think?
    Would you say Learning Styles are misconception?
    (I'm wondering in general, not connecting it to any teaching methods or testing for Multiple Intelligencies)
     
  23. czacza

    czacza Multitudinous

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    This is a duplicate of your post on your other learning styles thread...and this is a VERY old thread....perhaps the conversations could be combined? Or better to just post the same thoughts in just one thread?
     
    Last edited: Feb 20, 2016
  24. PoliticalFutbol

    PoliticalFutbol Rookie

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    In my uneducated opinion, learning styles are probably not such a big deal that they should cause the decimation of education. Everyone communicates basically the same way and probably education was built on some pretty common traits. To me it just sounds like there's probably a bunch of infiltration in the institution of education. Maybe some social geniuses feel the need to sound smart or get control. I don't think all children should be forced to go to school, and that is not necessarily due to learning styles and the need to be taught in particularly different ways.
     

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