Learning styles

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shpalman
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Learning styles

Post by shpalman » Sun Feb 07, 2021 6:40 pm

The learning styles myth is still prevalent among educators and it shows no sign of going away

Weirdly I don't think I've ever heard this coming from the education professionals at the university I work at, in the context of how we're supposed to lecture, but I have heard this in terms of being taught how to teach dance here.

It just seems like one of those things where it's just dressing up a banal obvious thing ("bear in mind that there are different ways to explain something") in a fancy way.
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JQH
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Re: Learning styles

Post by JQH » Mon Feb 08, 2021 9:41 am

My alternative identity blogged about this twelve years ago. Depressing to see it is still underpinning education "theory".
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Re: Learning styles

Post by Nero » Mon Feb 08, 2021 10:27 am

Brian Dunning from Skeptoid recently wrote/podcasted about the myth of learning styles:

https://skeptoid.com/episodes/4764
If you are involved in any remote way with education, you've almost certainly heard of the VARK questionnaire. It stands for Visual, Aural, Read/write and Kinesthetic, four styles of learning. Some of us are visual learners; some are aural learners, preferring to hear a lecture; some learn best by reading; and others are kinesthetic, or hands-on learners. The sixteen questions in the VARK system will help you nail down which of these four you are. This allows teachers to tailor the curriculum to your particular learning style, and then — the theory goes — you'll learn more effectively. Sounds like a wonderful deal, right? The only problem is it doesn't work.

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Re: Learning styles

Post by nezumi » Mon Feb 08, 2021 12:30 pm

You'd be amazed how many in teacher training swallow this toss completely uncritically. I was glad to get the course finished because ikt turns out an awful lot of teachers, even in adult ed, are completely airy-fairy idiots who will believe anything if it comes in 4 colours and has a questionnaire.

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Re: Learning styles

Post by Little waster » Tue Feb 09, 2021 4:27 pm

I have to say in the ~half-dozen schools I taught full-time in not one of them used VAK and it was only mentioned in passing once during my PGCE along the lines of "this is something that used to be thing, it isn't anymore, but some schools have stuck with it". cf De Bono's thinking hats, HOT thermometers, SOLO taxonomies.

I used to joke that education archaeologists could trace the passing fads of teaching by simply stripping back the multiple layers of forgotten laminated learning resources off the wall of a standard classroom.
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Re: Learning styles

Post by raven » Tue Feb 09, 2021 5:21 pm

I'd rather hoped that VARK had been consigned to the educational dustbin by now.

Son#1 did the questionaire in secondary. It said he was an auditory learner, mostly, as far as I could tell, because he'd said he liked to listen to music while studying. I found this hilariously shite. He's mildly dyslexic & has a rubbish auditory memory. You do not want to be teach him things in an auditory style, no sirree. Luckily the school did no more than give them the questionaire. (Quite what the point was of that, Idk. If you believe in this drivel, you'd want to actually teach them in the style it assigned them surely. But then there's really no practical way to do that in a busy secondary...)

I did some reading on it at the time to work out exactly how shite it was. I was interested because some of the research I'd read about teaching dyslexics talked a lot about multi-sensory learning and how well that worked. But that's more about using multiple methods to bypass areas of difficulty and to reinforce learning, which makes a lot more sense. And I think that's something good teachers tend to do anyway; use multiple methods of delivery. Like the excellent 5th grade teacher who taught basic Mendelian genetics with diagrams, and then with cups and tiddliwinks.

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Re: Learning styles

Post by Boustrophedon » Tue Feb 09, 2021 9:04 pm

I first encountered this in 1987 on my PGCE and I instantly, mentally filed it as bollocks. Actually I did that with about half the educational theory side of the course, purely on the basis of "that's not how I learnt and that's not ow my mind thinks or works.

But recently I discovered that there are people who cannot visualise things at all, so if your teaching involved a description of a physical situation or object it might be a good idea to back that up with a picture, I always did.

It always struck me that there were some things that were just better taught visually and by doing, dance would be a good example and the use of any hand tool. Show them (both handedness too), get them to do it, they'll never get it by taking it at them.
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Re: Learning styles

Post by JQH » Wed Feb 10, 2021 11:16 am

Boustrophedon wrote:
Tue Feb 09, 2021 9:04 pm


It always struck me that there were some things that were just better taught visually and by doing, dance would be a good example and the use of any hand tool. Show them (both handedness too), get them to do it, they'll never get it by taking it at them.
For sure but that's linking the teaching method to what's being taught not to the student's supposed learning style.
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