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Posts Tagged ‘styles

 
Here is another example of why propagators of “learning styles” do schooling and education a disservice.

An NBC correspondent highlighted a quote from a WaPo article:

For some context, here is an excerpt from the article

Trump has opted to rely on an oral briefing of select intelligence issues in the Oval Office rather than getting the full written document delivered to review separately each day, according to three people familiar with his briefings. 

Reading the traditionally dense intelligence book is not Trump’s preferred “style of learning,” according to a person with knowledge of the situation.

Say what you want about “learning styles”. If you are a teacher and what you say is not informed by research, then you dig you and your students into a hole. These “learning styles” become a self-fulfilling prophecy.

If you do not like reading words, here are lots of pictures instead. If you cannot listen attentively to someone, go outside and do something that somehow teaches you the same thing.

“Learning styles” can become an excuse to label yourself or someone else so that you or they do not have to try to learn something else some other way.

Do you and your students a favour and educate yourself on the fallacies of “learning styles”. Read this tweet storm — a response to an uncritical and irresponsible vendor — for a start.

You do not even need to read the research. Just question your conscience and logic — is it right and helpful for any learners to grow up with a limited set of tools and skills?


Video source

The video above highlights how “learning styles”:

  • have no research evidence that show that they improve learning
  • waste the time and effort of teachers who try to cater to different styles
  • label and limit people into believing they learn only or best in certain ways

Admit your bias, take the first difficult step of learning what research tells us, and unlearn “learning styles”. Your first step is any of the resources I have shared in Diigo, the articles mentioned in the tweetstorm, or the TED talk embedded above. Read, watch, or listen; choose your learning preference, but do not call it a learning style.

Learning is often difficult. If it was easy, it probably is not learning. Giving in to your uninformed bias that kids have “learning styles” may be easier, but that does not make it right.

Since some people would rather watch a video bite than read articles, I share SciShow’s Hank Green’s 2.5 minute critique of “learning styles”.


Video source

From a review of research, Green highlighted how:

  • the only study that seemed to support learning styles was severely flawed
  • students with perceptions that they had one style over others actually benefitted from visual information regardless of their preference

This is just the tip of the iceberg of evidence against learning styles. I have a curated list here. If that list is too long to process, then at least take note of two excerpts from recent reviews:

From the National Center for Biotechnology Information, US National Library of Medicine:

… we found virtually no evidence for the interaction pattern mentioned above, which was judged to be a precondition for validating the educational applications of learning styles. Although the literature on learning styles is enormous, very few studies have even used an experimental methodology capable of testing the validity of learning styles applied to education. Moreover, of those that did use an appropriate method, several found results that flatly contradict the popular meshing hypothesis. We conclude therefore, that at present, there is no adequate evidence base to justify incorporating learning-styles assessments into general educational practice.

In their review of research on learning styles for the Association for Psychological Science, Pashler, McDaniel, Rohrer, and Bjork (2008) came to a stark conclusion: “If classification of students’ learning styles has practical utility, it remains to be demonstrated.” (p. 117)

In Deans for Impact, Dylan Wiliam noted:

Pashler et al pointed out that experiments designed to investigate the meshing hypothesis would have to satisfy three conditions:

1. Based on some assessment of their presumed learning style, learners would be allocated to two or more groups (e.g., visual, auditory and kinesthetic learners)

2. Learners within each of the learning-style groups would be randomly allocated to at least two different methods of instruction (e.g., visual and auditory based approaches)

3. All students in the study would be given the same final test of achievement.

In such experiments, the meshing hypothesis would be supported if the results showed that the learning method that optimizes test performance of one learning-style group is different than the learning method that optimizes the test performance of a second learning-style group.

In their review, Pashler et al found only one study that gave even partial support to the meshing hypothesis, and two that clearly contradicted it.

Look at it another way: We might have learning preferences, but we do not have styles that are either self-fulling prophecies or harmful labels that pigeonhole. If we do not have visual impairments, we are all visual learners.

Teaching is neat. Learning is messy.

Learning is messy and teaching tries to bring order to what seems to be chaos. The problem with learning styles is that it provides the wrong kind of order. Learning styles has been perpetuated without being validated. A stop sign on learning styles is long overdue.

There are not many circumstances in which doing the same thing differently is innovative. This might be one exception.


Video source

Why do I make this exception an example of innovation? The singer is obviously talented in several ways. While he has taken someone else’s song and applied the identities of others on them, he has taken enough creative license to make the mix his own.

Likewise moving from PowerPoint to Google Slides or Prezi is not innovative. But opening the Slides or Prezi for public comment or collaborative construction could be. The innovation is not in the tool or the delivery. It is in the human endeavour.


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