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Helping bridge neuroscience and education: 30+ experts debunk the theory of fixed, rigid “learning styles”


No evi­dence to back idea of learn­ing styles (OpEd in The Guardian co-authored by 30+ neu­ro­sci­en­tists and psy­chol­o­gists):

There is wide­spread inter­est among teach­ers in the use of neu­ro­sci­en­tif­ic research find­ings in edu­ca­tion­al prac­tice. How­ev­er, there are also mis­con­cep­tions and myths that are sup­pos­ed­ly based on sound neu­ro­science that are preva­lent in our schools. We wish to draw atten­tion to this prob­lem by focus­ing on an edu­ca­tion­al prac­tice sup­pos­ed­ly based on neu­ro­science that lacks suf­fi­cient evi­dence and so we believe should not be pro­mot­ed or sup­port­ed.

Gen­er­al­ly known as “learn­ing styles”, it is the belief that indi­vid­u­als can ben­e­fit from receiv­ing infor­ma­tion in their pre­ferred format…There are, how­ev­er, a num­ber of prob­lems with the learn­ing styles approach. First, there is no coher­ent frame­work of pre­ferred learn­ing styles…The sec­ond prob­lem is that cat­e­goris­ing indi­vid­u­als can lead to the assump­tion of fixed or rigid learn­ing style, which can impair moti­va­tion to apply one­self or adapt.

Final­ly, and most damn­ing, is that there have been sys­tem­at­ic stud­ies of the effec­tive­ness of learn­ing styles that have con­sis­tent­ly found either no evi­dence or very weak evi­dence to sup­port the hypoth­e­sis that match­ing or “mesh­ing” mate­r­i­al in the appro­pri­ate for­mat to an individual’s learn­ing style is selec­tive­ly more effec­tive for edu­ca­tion­al attain­ment.”

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  1. stu says:

    A great lit­tle arti­cle.

    I don’t think there is any such thing as a learn­ing style every­body learns a dif­fer­ent way and at a dif­fer­ent rate, there­fore there would be just as many ways of learn­ing as there are peo­ple to learn.

    I used to learn bet­ter if I made every­thing into a “mind Map,” then i start­ed cre­at­ing a mem­o­ry house…like the guys who count cards do. I was then told that I have a visu­al mem­o­ry which total­ly made sense to me as I would visu­alise every­thing first..thats just how my brain would work.

    I then had a brain injury and total­ly lost that abil­i­ty, I used to write stuff down and could recite it by visu­al­is­ing the piece of paper, I could even see it in my own hand­writ­ing. Now none of that works at all.

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