Saturday, December 26, 2009


Wouldn't you agree that the education of our children is extremely important to the future of our nation?

Why, then, are so many crackpots allowed so much influence over it?

The latest scam to be exposed was pulled off by the "learning-styles" crowd. They claimed that we'd learn best if presentations/materials were geared toward our particular learning styles.

Sounds great, doesn't it? Unfortunately, there's no solid science behind it. As we so often find out - after the fact - studies that were supposed to support theories weren't at all scientific.

Pashier, McDaniel, Rohrer, and Bjork have called out the learning-styles camp here.

Our review of the learning-styles literature led us to define a particular type of evidence that we see as a minimum precondition for validating the use of a learning-style assessment in an instructional setting. As described earlier, we have been unable to find any evidence that clearly meets this standard. Moreover, several studies that used the appropriate type of research design found results that contradict the most widely held version of the learning-styles hypothesis, namely, what we have referred to as the meshing hypothesis (Constantinidou & Baker, 2002; Massa & Mayer, 2006). The contrast between the enormous popularity of the learning-styles approach within education and the lack of credible evidence for its utility is, in our opinion, striking and disturbing. If classification of students’ learning styles has practical utility, it remains to be demonstrated.

Idealists promote ideas like learning-styles because it seems like it would be a great idea. How wonderful it would be if it were so, right?

Realists, on the other hand, see learning-styles theory for what it is: just another "feel good" education scam.

I don't dispute that we have different learning styles. However, I do think we've done children a great disservice by trying to teach them with a focus on those styles.

Try ordering at a fast-food restaurant without repeating yourself. What are the chances your order will be correctly filled? If the young person taking that order was a "visual learner", the chances aren't good.

You see, we've taught to their learning style by giving them written instructions. When we must give them verbal instructions, we make certain to repeat them until they understand.

Once is not enough...

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