Learning styles are a complete myth.
It’s true, but I’ll get to that in a moment.
First of all, what are learning styles?
Unless you’ve slept through every single class you’ve ever attended, you’ll know it’s the idea that everyone has a preferred way to take in information. If you’re taught or you study using your preferred style, you’ll learn more effectively.
This idea’s been around since the 1970’s and it’s been continued on by well-meaning teachers and diligent students aiming for effective learning. We all want to learn faster and more effectively, that’s no surprise.
Unfortunately, there is no credible evidence that learning styles exist.
In fact, the best evidence indicates the opposite.
Every student will have different levels of ability, interest and background knowledge, but not learning styles.
Research shows that when people have a favorite style of presentation, it’s usually a preference for a type of task or subject they have a high ability for, and already feel successful at.
If you’re good at music, you might think you’re an auditory leaner, or if you’re artistic you might think you’re visual.
You might prefer to learn in a particular way, but there’s no evidence that it will help you learn more effectively.
When researchers now look at students who are using their preferred style, the results of those students aren’t any better than students who are not using their preferred style.
But here’s the really crazy thing. Up to 90% of teachers still believe learning styles are real.
Here’s a couple of interesting tests for you to try.
Ask your teacher if they support the idea of learning styles.
Search Google or YouTube for ‘learning styles’ and see how many of the top results still push this myth.
And here’s a good one to check out.
Go to the website for any college or university and search for ‘learning styles’. You might be amazed how many research institutions teach something that’s been debunked by research.
So why hasn’t the message gotten out, why is this myth still perpetuated?
There’re a number of reasons, but I think a big one is because academic and scientific researchers are typically not great at marketing. It’s like when a newspaper makes a false claim or statement on their front page. Everybody hears about the original claim and thinks it’s true. Unfortunately, when the newspaper retracts that statement and apologizes for their error, it only appears on page 8. Nobody knows or cares.
So if learning styles aren’t real, what’s the solution? What’s the most effective way to learn and study?
But what happens if you still don’t believe all the latest evidence? What if you’re determined to keep using what you think is your strongest learning style? Well, you’ll just learn more slowly and less effectively than other people, get lower grades than you’re capable of achieving and waste a lot of time and effort. And you’ll probably look a bit silly too.
Leave a comment below and tell me what school or university you can find that’s still pushing the myth of learning styles.
** Want to learn more? Check out the links below or simply Google 'learning styles myth' - and then start spreading the word!