What’s the Story on Learning Styles? | Faculty Focus

We have this tendency in higher education to throw babies out with bath water. It derives from dualistic thinking. Either something is right or wrong, it’s in or out, up or down. As mature thinkers, we disavow these dichotomous perspectives, but then find their simplicity hard to resist. They make complicated things easy.


Any number of us have had our doubts about learning styles. The instruments that detect, name, and classify these various approaches to learning just seemed too straightforward. How can there by only two or even four styles? And how can every learner fit neatly into one of those boxes? We also worried about how students responded to them. “I’m a visual learner,” one told me, “I don’t do textbooks.” A certain learning style then excuses one from other learning modalities?

via What’s the Story on Learning Styles? | Faculty Focus.

My take:  This is a detached and well-reasoned discussion on the polarizing issue of Learning Styles. What I like is that it goes beyond the purported lack of scientific rigour and speaks of the impact on learners themselves, e.g. “I’m a visual learner”.  If nothing else, this article should be required reading on both sides of the ongoing debate.


About Mark L. Sheppard

learning geek, lifelong learner, terminally curious, recovering blogger and Ed Tech explorer.

Posted on February 17, 2015, in commentary, opinion, reblog and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 6 Comments.

  1. Enjoyed this article very much, Mark. Thanks for sharing.

  2. Reblogged this on thatswutshised and commented:
    Interesting read.

  3. Thanks for drawing my attention to this article, Mark.

    It annoys me when I read unsubstantiated statements such as “learning styles are bunkum” when we simply don’t know.

    A lack of compelling evidence for is not the same as compelling evidence against. But that’s populist science for you.

    • It’s a polarizing issue to be sure. It’s interesting to note that in spite of bounties like the one Will Thalheimer offered to prove that learning styles existed and were beneficial, nobody seems to have taken him up on it. To me, that also begs the question of whether or not the area of study is of genuine interest to Educational Researchers…and what does that mean as a whole.

      Likely not a question to be answered in our lifetimes.

  4. I think you nailed it: this is simply not an area of interest to Educational Researchers.

    If I were to do a PhD, I certainly wouldn’t do it on learning styles.

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