Guess what? There’s no such thing as "learning style" (the theory that each of us has a preferred way to learn new ideas. There are many supposed kinds of learning styles, such as a visual learning style, an auditory style, kinesthetic, etc.). Don’t believe it? Neither did I at first. I was sure for a long time that I personally had a visual learning style. Now I’m not so sure anymore.
Why Do We Still Believe in Learning Styles?
If there is no scientific support for learning styles then whey do we believe they must exist? We also discuss multiple intelligences. While there is support for this idea, many people are confused as to what Howard Gardner really says about his own theory. Let’s see if we can set the record straight about learning styles, abilities, and intelligences in this episode of The Psych Files.
That being said, not all methods of teaching information to today’s youth (and adults) are equal. For example, a teacher with a Master of Education in Instructional Design and Technology might use technology to assist students in the classroom. Willingham would argue that while using technology to deliver classroom content is a valuable tool, it does not define the learning style of the child. Technology is merely another way for the teacher to convey the content, much like stating the lesson audibly is a tool. Using technology helps teachers to reinforce this content in a way that keeps the attention of the students in the classroom.
I have read Willingham’s book, Why Don’t Students Like School and I can tell you that it is excellent. Very readable and filled with the latest research on learning in school. If you’re a teacher or are interested in the field of cognitive Psychology, then this is a book to get (NOTE: as with all my Amazon links on this site, this is an affiliate link. Affiliate links help to support this site and I only link to books and products that I have read or used and know for sure you’ll find valuable).
Resources for this Episode
- Here is a link to professor Daniel Willingham’s website where you can download many of his articles on teaching and learning.
The role of confirmation bias in learning styles: you think you have a visual learning style, so you recall all the times you believe you learned something visually but you don’t recall the times you learned something auditorily, kinesthetically, etc.
“It’s worth thinking about not matching the child’s supposed learning style to how they are supposed to learn, but rather think about the content and what is it about this content that I really want students to understand and what’s the best way to convey that.” – Dr. Willingham