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.
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.
- Dr. Willlingham’s column Ask the Cognitive Psychologist can be found in the journal American Educator.
- An article by Steven Stahl entitled, “Different Strokes for Different Folks?” appeared in American Educator. This is an excellent review of the difficulties researchers have had with the various measures of learning styles (clicking the link will automatically download the full article).
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