The fallacy of Learning Styles

Learning styles… You might have heard of them or you may even subscribe to one yourself! If anyone has ever said to you, ‘Oh, I’m a visual learner,’ that’s an example of a learning style. Other commonly espoused styles are auditory and kinesthetic (hands-on learning), but empirical evidence maintains that this purported ideal pedagogical practise is a downright falsehood. Due to a combination of its intuitive appeal and the susceptibility of people’s preferences to adopt psychological categorisations of others, this nonsense neuromyth has wormed its way amongst the teaching population by way of even official textbooks on the matter, culminating in nearly 90% of professional educators believing in learning styles.

Evidence diverging from attempting to prove this myth’s efficacy has actually demonstrated detrimental determinations regarding the sole implementation of learning styles; to conduct a student’s education via a single style’s method, even in those who report a self-realised learning style, has proved less effective than alternative approaches. Certainly, the categories of teaching peddled by the myth are real, but their utility lies in other applications.

Evidence shows that a more constructive means of memory retention and actualisation of schooling lies in incorporating several of these learning styles into all students’ lessons. This conclusion, in fact, drives at a more groundwrought principle of effectual instruction: the best educational material is that which keeps the student’s mind engaged on the subject at hand. A text-filled page is likely to make any learner exasperated, but breaking that page up with pictures alone relieves some of that boredom by providing variation. At heart, humans are all still just children seeking entertainment; the best methods of learning ensure boredom’s abjuration.

 This is especially relevant when considering senior learners, where it is often assumed a more visual approach is needed.