Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Learning Styles Revisited

Recently, I reported that there is virtually no comprehensive research that supports the “learning styles” theory.  Actually, there are a huge variety of learning style theories which posit varying numbers of styles across an equally varying number of domains.  Brown, et al., in Make It Stick, being good scientists, qualify their assessment of these theories to say that there is no credible evidence for the theories, they admit that there are so many theories that few have been rigorously tested.  They do, however, offer us a terrific insight into what does have support.

Instruction that matches the mode of the subject with the mode of instruction does have a positive effect on learning.  Visual instruction for geometry, geography, or art history, for example  is most appropriate.  Verbal instruction in language arts would be the preferred mode.  It’s hard to imagine teaching any sport without having participants actually engage in that sport.  Research shows that all learners benefit by matching the mode of instruction to the topic taught.  That is a powerful piece of knowledge for the teacher. 

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