Does Learning Style actually exist?

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I am a skeptic at heart and I accept nothing at face value. I have always been the ultimate truth-seeker. I love slaughtering a sacred cow with facts, logic and peer-reviewed evidence. Just because the vast majority of people hold a particular belief it does not make it true. Remember at one point we all used to believe that the earth is the center of the Universe or the earth is only a few thousand years old. No amount of belief/faith makes anything true. Wise people change their deeply held belief with new information. I always wondered if learning style actually exist and if I am wasting hundreds of dollars every semester paying for software and companies to figure out my learning style. Then, my favorite history instructor showed us a TedxTalk video on “Learning styles and the importance of critical self-reflection” by Dr. Tesia Marshik. Dr. Tesia Marshik is an Assistant Professor of Psychology at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse. Please watch the full TedTalk video and check the peer-reviewed scientific study I cited here before rejecting the fact that learning style actually does not exist.

I will quote Dr. Tesia here. “The belief in learning styles is so widespread, it is considered to be common sense. Few people ever challenge this belief, which has been deeply ingrained in our educational system. Teachers are routinely told that in order to be effective educators, they must identify and cater to individual students’ learning styles; it is estimated that around 90% of students believe that they have a specific learning style but research suggests that learning styles don’t actually exist! This presentation focuses on debunking this myth via research findings, explaining how/why the belief in learning styles is problematic and examining the reasons why the belief persists despite the lack of evidence.” Furthermore, Dr. Tesia explains to us that learning is the same regardless of how the content is presented to you. Most of what you learn is stored in terms of meaning. The best way to learn or teach something depends on the content itself. Suppose if you need to memorize and identify how different insects look like then the best way to learn that is to photos of different insects. Now if I ask you to memorize the sound of different insects then the best way to learn would be to hear the sound. It is not because you are a visual or auditory learner. Many things can be taught using multiple senses.

Another peer-reviewed scientific research concluded that “there is no adequate evidence base to justify incorporating learning styles assessments into general educational practice.” Lastly, Dr. Tesia states reasons we must stop believing in learning styles. It is a waste of time and valuable educational resources. Teachers already have an enormous task of accommodating all students of different backgrounds, abilities, disabilities, motivations, and interest. The fact that learning style does not matter should be a relief for teachers. It is one less thing teachers need to worry about. The US colleges can no longer afford to waste time and resources trying to promote learning style when there is no evidence that it actually helps to learn. Especially, when there are other research-supported strategies that do impact learning. Moreover, labeling yourself as a particular learner can be dangerously misleading. It prevents you from thinking outside the box and trying out other strategies. The fact that learning style actually does not exist should be a good news. It means we are all capable of learning in a variety of ways. We are not as limited as we think we are.

I hope you all will examine and question your belief about learning styles after reading this blog post. Happy learning!

Image taken from https://bonniegillespie.com/is-your-learning-style-the-problem/

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