Nope, you do not have some sensory modality (visual, auditory, tactile, kinesthetic, flowerly, etc.) with which you best learn everything.
“But my teacher told me I was a visual learner.” Your teacher is well-meaning but doesn’t know they don’t exist.
“I am a teacher, and I was trained to identify/teach to learning styles.” Call up your the college that taught you and demand a refund. You won’t get it, but it’s worth a try. I suppose that if enough of us do it, we might get someone’s attention.
“I have a doctoral degree in education and train teachers at ::University::. I teach future educators about learning styles. You’re wrong.” I am sure you’re ready to debate it. I welcome it! Just one thing: I want research, not fiat.
“But there is published research out there.” This website aims to look at all of it through a critical (read: cynical) lens. Let’s just say I am underwhelmed. For now, I’ll defer a more detailed response to that.
“Surely you’re familiar with Howard Gardner’s Multiple Intelligences! That’s evidence right there!” Have you read Gardner’s work and not some oversimplified summary of it? If you did, you know that these are not learning styles at all. A cursory search on Google will show that Gardner himself has spoken about this distinction (and his doubt about the existence of learning styles).
“But teaching to learning styles works in practice. I do it. I see it. I know it.” Doctors once said the same thing about bloodletting.
“Surely all of those professional development and inservice programs can’t be wrong.” Frankly, I am weary of organizations offering PD to districts that
- aim to make a profit
- offer no real evidence to their claims other than their just saying it (i.e., fiat…see above)
“Why this site?” A few of my inspirations…
- Students disengaging from lessons because the format of the lesson is not congruent with their supposed learning style they were once told they have.
- Teachers wasting instructional time, albeit unknowingly, giving learning style questionnaires to identify supposed styles. Worse: teachers designing lessons to cater to styles while they are missing out on opportunities to instruct students with empirically-supported techniques.
- Districts wasting taxpayer funds to send teachers to workshops, trainings, and classes that teach something that does not work.
- Tutoring centers at colleges that are (again, unknowingly) giving bad advice to struggling students who are most in need of approaches that work.
- To that end, I want to contribute to bringing down the pseudosciences that are pervasive in education.
“Are you the only one publicly critical of learning styles?” Hardly. There are MANY who are doing very good work out there. In fact, if this site were to be nothing more than a clearinghouse of links to sites that examine the evidence and/or provide good alternatives, then I’d be happy with that. Instead of reinventing the wheel, I seek to fill whatever voids that I see are there. I confess that no other resources attempt to educate others with as misleading of a domain name as this one, but if it educates people who had sought to find their learning style (presumably believing in the theories behind it), then all the better.
If you have made it this far, I am glad! This is site is a work-in-progress.