Bradford VTS Online Resources:
Teaching & Learning
An intro to Learning Styles and what educators believed...
Teaching via the 4 styles. But, is this truth or just thoughts?
Learning styles & the importance of critical self-reflection by Tesia Marshik (TEDx)
The current view on Learning Styles, according to the research
The belief in learning styles is so widespread, it is considered to be common sense. Few people ever challenge this belief, which has been deeply ingrained in our educational system. Teachers are routinely told that in order to be effective educators, they must identify & cater to individual students’ learning styles; it is estimated that around 90% of students believe that they have a specific learning style but research suggests that learning styles don’t actually exist! This presentation focuses on debunking this 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.
Learning Styles Don’t Exist
Frank Coffield has researched and written extensively ( see this for his research on learning styles https://www.voced.edu.au/content/ngv:12401). Have a read of this piece of his…
I think it can be distracting for facilitators to get stuck on worrying about learning styles and teaching styles as if they are individual and fixed. There still educational modules for new and established teachers based on what was in vogue over twenty years ago! Is it time to rethink, and move towards where the evidence is proven to show something makes a difference to teaching and learning? So, if you find material on this website with learning styles – take it with a good pinch of salt!
Misconceptions of Learning Styles (TED talk)
So, what do I think?
Even I used to promote learning styles 20 years ago when I started off as a Training Programme Director for the Bradford GP Training Scheme. What this has taught me is the importance of (1) never resting on your laurels and (2) keep re-evaluating the evidence and the literature on the concepts that shape your educational philosophy. It’s only a few years ago that I came to the conclusion that whilst the concept of Learning Styles seems logical, in real life, the research says it doesn’t really exist and even more importantly, it doesn’t even matter. So, if I believe this, why have I included resources on learning styles on this page?
- For the sake of completeness. Some of you may have heard about learning styles from other educators or educational websites. It will still be promoted by a lot of educators who are not aware of what the latest research says.
- I don’t want you going down the path of “Learning Styles” if the research says it makes no difference. Hopefully, I provide both sides of the fence and help you see that is probably not worth getting too hung up about Learning Styles like I used to 10-15 years ago – where I almost religiously did an Learning Styles Questionnaire on everyone of my trainees. And I used to do run a workshop on it at new trainee induction for the scheme.
What does Peter Honey say?
He no longer owns the Learning Style Questionnaire (LSQ) – it’s now owned by a company called Pearson. Nevertheless, I asked Peter Honey what he thought about the latest research. And this was his reply (he is a very approachable man). I have to admit, I liked his reply – there’s a lot of common educational sense within it.
“I have always found this (LSQ) a useful process for crystallising so called ‘lessons learnt’ . I created the LSQ back in the mid-70s to encourage managers to improve the way they learnt from their experiences. The whole Idea was to get them to see that consciously completing all the stages in the experiential Kolb’s learning cycle (1 Having an experience, 2 Reviewing the experience, 3 Reaching conclusions, and 4 Deciding what to do better or differently) was better than informal ‘tacit’ learning. So, I’d say it DOES improve the quality of actual learning – but I appreciate that you will say I’m biased! I find it’s too easy for people to claim to have learnt from an experience but, under scrutiny, for the learning to be vague or platitudinous. Politicians are infamous for saying lessons must be/have been learnt and then failing to provide the evidence! The LSQ is just a useful tool alerting people to their preferences and, in particular, to the stages in the cycle they tend to skimp. I, for example, with strong preferences for Activist/Pragmatist have to ‘force’ myself to conduct thorough reviews and to resist the temptation to jump to conclusions. With best wishes, Peter”
I myself am an Activist- Reflector, and I have to admit, personally, the LSQ has taught me that sometimes I need to focus on being a bit more of a pragmatist and get things actually done (I do have a habit of starting lots of things and but not completing many of them). So, I totally get what Peter says when he says knowing his “style” helps him to resist the temptation of his preferences.
By the way – the Behavioural & Personality Questionnaires on this website might still be helpful even if learning styles are not.
"Our preferred learning style may simply be what we THINK is easier, NOT how we learn better!"
Hear a bit more for yourself...
Learning styles are a complete myth!
Do learning styles really exist? Listen to this research.
The Evidence: that learning styles don’t exist
The Myth of Individual Learning Styles – Dr Robert Bjork
And finally, I love this one...
Learning styles don't exist.
And they don't make a difference.
The Myth of Learning Styles (another TED Talk)