Learning styles research updates

Learning Styles refer to the idea that students learn best when course content is pitched to match student’s self-reported media preferences. The most popular one among them divides students into three types: visual, auditory, and kinesthetic learners. (VARK Model scrutinized. The Atlantic )

Even though the use of learning styles is popular, the overwhelming consensus among scholars is that no scientific evidence backs this “matching” hypothesis of learning styles (Yale POORVU Center)

Following are three papers that discuss various facets of this issue in detail.

  1. Stop propagating the learning styles myth Paul A.Kirschner
  2. Evidence-Based Higher Education – Is the Learning Styles ‘Myth’ Important? Philip M. Newton.et.al
  3. Learning Styles: Concepts and Evidence – Harold Pashler.et.al

According to Dr. Robert Bjork (UCLA) who was one of the 4 member team(with Pashler) that reviewed all existing literature on the topic, there is no evidence for learning style. To him the idea of individual learning styles not only lacks scientific merit, but can also be detrimental to learning.

Note: Meta-analysis questioned Carol Dweck’s idea of fixed or growth mindset 

Further, teachers are routinely told that in order to be effective educators, they must identify & cater to individual students’ learning styles. It is also estimated that around 90% of students believe that they have a specific learning style but research suggests that learning styles don’t actually exist!

In the following TED Video, Dr. Tesia Marshik (Assistant Professor of Psychology at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse) debunks this learning myth via Research findings, Explaining how/why the belief in learning styles is problematic, and examining the reasons why the belief persists despite the lack of evidence.

Note :The theory of multiple intelligences by Harvard Professor Howard Gardner is often misused to promote Learning Styles. Click this video LINK

In the following video Cognitive Scientist Professor Daniel Willingham explores research showing that learning styles are a myth.

The other side

I have also found a recent argument made by Dylan Wiliam on twitter suggesting that learning styles as in Kolb,etc. may exist, but that may not result in instructional usefulness.

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