Spotlight 1: Learning

The concept of learning styles has been critiqued for years now on whether they are valid or just a myth. Many students across all grades claim to have a specific learning style. It could be, visual, auditory, kinesthetic, or another. Teachers tend to use these learning styles to cater the way they teach materials to students, which some seem to think actually has little to no effect on the students success at all. It could actually be problematic instead of beneficial.

In an article published by The Atlantic, the author presents studies and literary articles about this theory. One scholarly article that is presented is taken from The Generalist’s Corner, by the Society for the Teaching of Psychology. Authors Willingham, Hughes, and Dobolyi, all psychology professors, argue that learning styles are preferences, not differences in a student’s ability. They believe learning styles are invalid. They state that the main reason people believe in learning styles is because it is “scientific,” but they do not realize the lack of scientific evidence that would back up the theory. The authors agree that teachers should focus on the similarities in the mind’s of students to improve their teaching rather than the differences. In another study published by The Atlantic in the journal of educational psychology, authors Rogowsky, Calhoun, and Tallal state that in their study, they found no correlation between the student learning styles and test performance. Instead of aiding towards a student’s preference, they should be strengthening all aspects of the student’s learning styles. I completely agree with the finding of these two studies. I agree that learning styles are problematic and the claims in these studies identify for me the lack of scientific evidence in which I had thought there was plenty of. They were mostly focused on convincing the reader that learning styles are false, but did highlight a few components of “strengths” learning styles could theoretically have.

With the overwhelming amount of scientific evidence against learning styles, some people still believe in them and their ability to improve a student’s learning. The website Educational Research under newsletter and webinar, have an article dedicated to “The Importance of Understanding Individual Learning Styles” based on an article written by psychologist Robert Sternberg.  Robert Sternberg even says that “Styles of thinking and learning are as important as intellectual ability, and ignoring students’ thinking styles puts teaching and learning in jeopardy.” He argues that students tend to be more interested in activities geared towards their learning styles, and when they are not, it “profoundly” effects them. He also argues that when a student performs poorly on an assignment, we must look at his learning style instead of concluding the student may be unmotivated or have a lack in ability. One last claim Sternberg makes is that “be aware of a natural bias toward our own personal style in order to avoid unconsciously penalizing students who do not match us in learning style.” After reading this, I thought it was very interesting how even literal psychologists disagree on the topic and both have strong research and knowledge to back up their own claims. I figured that all psychologists would either be for or against the use of learning styles in the classroom, not they themselves, would also be in disagreement.

An article on Research Gate leads to a literary review done by two professors on how technology effects learning styles now that it has become prominent in education. Its main points focus on the fact that learning styles do improve classroom success, especially with the use of technology. I think technology has its own pros and cons in terms of education and actually disagree that it could be considered a learning style even though some students do prefer it over physical books.

In my opinion, I think both sides of the articles have valid points. I am, however, against learning styles. I feel that, along with the articles from The Atlantic, learning styles deprive students from other forms of learning. I think education should use all forms of approach to strengthen a well rounded student.

References:

Khazan, O. (2018, April). The Myth of “Learning Styles”. Retrieved from The Atlantic website: https://www.theatlantic.com/science/archive/2018/04/the-myth-of-learning-styles/557687/

Willingham, D., Hughes, E., Dobolyi, D. (2015). The Scientific Status of Learning Style Theories. The Teaching of Psychology, 42(3), 266-271. DOI: 10.1177/0098628315589505. Retrieved from: https://career.ucsf.edu/sites/career.ucsf.edu/files/Article%20UCSF%20SEJC%20January%202017.pdf

Rogowsky, B., Calhoun, B., Tallal, P. (2015). Matching Learning Style to Instructional Method: Effects on Comprehension. Journal of Educational Psychology, 107(1), 64-78. Retrieved from: https://www.apa.org/pubs/journals/features/edu-a0037478.pdf

Educational Research: Newsletters & Webinars. (n.d.). The Importance of Understanding Individual Learning Styles. Retrieved from : https://www.ernweb.com/educational-research-articles/the-importance-of-understanding-individual-learning-styles/

Ellington, S., Benders, D. (2012, June). Learning Style and It’s Importance in Education. Retrieved from the ResearchGates website: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/256022625_Learning_Style_and_it%27s_importance_in_Education

 

 

 

 

 

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