The Persistence of Learning Styles

Perhaps one of the most prevailing ideas that persists in education is the notion of individual learning styles, ranging from variation in personality types to dominant sensory based learning. Countless theories have been put forward; categorising, detailing and expanding on an ever increasing list of individual learning styles. These ideas have risen with the idea of education involving respect for individuals and being learner-centred (as opposed to content-centred).  As a result, these ideas receive moral and cultural support within educational communities. Unfortunately, as a wealth of reviews and meta analyses have repeatedly shown a lack of empirical support for these ideas.

But educators are not always aware of the evidence in support or against these practises, and confirmation bias in favour of these ideas further compounds the belief that these are valid tools to learning. Furthermore, there is a lack of consistent information about truly effective instructional strategies. This leaves teachers and schools vulnerable to outdated ideas and practises.

This is a systemic problem. The harm is that in attempting to adapt teaching to learning styles educators are distracted from proven teaching practices, which interferes with the development of evidence-based practice in education and the wider community.

Now that we’ve dispelled a long lived myth of learning. We can start to take a look at General Learning Methods.