Learning Styles: Researcher versus User Perspectives
The following quote is from an article published in Psychological Science in the PUBLIC INTEREST CONTENTS; Learning Styles: Concepts and Evidence; Authors Harold Pashler, Mark McDaniel, Doug Rohrer, and Robert Bjork...
"On the basis of our review, the belief that learning-style assessments are useful in educational contexts appears to be just that—a belief."
Before I answer, here is the reply to the authors from Dr. Robert Sternberg, an expert and noted author on intelligence, "I told my four friends they were wrong" regarding their perspective on learning styles.
While I do have an opinion, it is less important than the fact that hundreds of thousands of individuals worldwide have benefited from understanding how they learn. The authors' claim that learning style is just 'a belief' is – at best – disingenuous. Implying that individuals are mistaken because they believe in and have successfully utilized learning styles is flawed. As humans, we each are capable of making informed choices as to the value of a subject such as learning style based on understanding the pros and cons, our experiences and our perceptions. Consequently, being respectful of individuals who have found value and believe learning styles to be useful should prevail. Teachers and parents foster a culture of trust when they value the assertion that each person learns differently and that no learning style is either good or bad. Identifying how individuals learn most effectively does not label an individual. What does harm individuals unnecessarily are poor grades and falling far behind because we fail to understand the distinctive features of individuals that affect their ability and their ways of learning. When individuals concur with a resounding yes that he/she has benefited from learning styles, why are there so many attempts to undervalue the concept? Is it fair to tell people that what they value is patently wrong? Should the academic argument against learning style overshadow what has indisputably been effective for so many for so long?
Providing a framework for understanding the process of learning is fundamental to individuals taking responsibility for their role when learning in any setting. Even students taught the difference between learning with a friend versus studying with a learning buddy understands the outcome. When working with a friend, very little learning takes place. When working with a learning buddy, learning takes place. Just ask Charlie who understood this framework in first grade (Flip This Classroom, 2008). A learning-style framework is not black and white. Rather, the framework knits together many shades of gray thus allowing individuals to understand fully the implications of their effectiveness both in and outside the classroom. When individuals embrace this awareness, they are equipped with strategies that assist them in becoming accountable and responsible for how they learn regardless of the presentation technique. When individuals succeed, everyone triumphs!