Another dot in the blogosphere?

Learning styles: Bah, humbug?

Posted on: December 21, 2009

Here is an interesting article from The Chronicle: Matching Teaching Style to Learning Style May Not Help Students.

The recommendation of the study is:

for instructors… [to] not waste any time or energy trying to determine the composition of learning styles in their classrooms… Instead, teachers should worry about matching their instruction to the content they are teaching. Some concepts are best taught through hands-on work, some are best taught through lectures, and some are best taught through group discussions.

So we are we talking about content styles then? I hope not.

I think that teachers need to be learning experts first (something the article alludes to). If they can figure out how people learn, they can figure out how best to teach (or not teach) a topic. This then requires deep knowledge and skillful application of teaching styles, learning styles and content styles.

But all this is practically moot if you read deep in between the lines. By this I mean understanding what the researchers are arguing about, i.e., study design and drawing conclusions from them.

Studies in education have largely been designed along experiments. Real classrooms are not laboratories and the participants are not rats. You cannot control all except one variable in social studies. This is why we now have design experiments.

The content nearer the end of the article resembles a mud-slinging match more than academic discourse. But being an insider, I don’t see much difference between mud slinging and academic discourse!

Ever wonder why education evolves so slowly? Here’s one good reason!

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