In 2017, the general scientific consensus was that learning styles may not exist because there is not enough evidence to prove that they do.
Why is this? Mainly because there is very little evidence of anything related to learning and brain cognition. Research on the brain and how it works is still in its infancy and neuroscientists are not going to definitively say that the current body of research proves or disproves any theories. Not yet.
Yet, as teachers, we are all aware that learning styles – or learning preferences – do seem to exist. They have an effect on learners, and ways of learning information are often unique to each student.
I’ve listed the common theories of multiple intelligences, brain-based learning, and learning styles as related to the Myers-Briggs personality indicator in my book, Special Needs in the General Classroom – 500+ Teaching Strategies for Differentiating Instruction. The idea behind Myers-Briggs is that certain personality preferences may also have specific learning preferences.
Despite current arguments against it, Myers-Briggs has been heavily researched and, therefore, a good deal of evidence, both for and against its use, exists.
A concern I see expressed most consistently against learning styles is that teachers, students, and parents should not learn or teach only to a student’s perceived learning style. To that, I agree. One should know themselves and how they learn best. When we and our students know how we learn, we also know that we learn in a variety of ways – NOT just one way.
Teachers do not need to teach differently to each child in the classroom based on each student’s perceived learning style. In my opinion, that’s simply ludicrous and impractical, and it is not consistently possible.
Rather, it is important that teachers employ a variety of strategies in their classroom, sprinkled throughout their lesson planning. By doing so, the teacher is more likely to meet the needs of all learners in the classroom. Some experts call this Universal Design for Learning. Some call it Tier One.
I call it common sense.
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