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Saturday, 7 July 2012

Learning Styles - What Fun.



There is little evidence to support our widely help view of learning styles, preferred learning styles etc, as being the way different students learn effectively. That is to say that it is almost certainly wrong to suggest that we have a fixed learning style, V or A or K or any other extended learning styles system and it is also wrong to say that we have a learning style set to which teachers should be attending for a particular student. If anyone knows of any scientific study that shows something different then please give me a link.

But there is something that is quite attractive about the idea that we can construct a lesson that gets directly to the learner. Gives the learner the lest difficult route into the learning we intend. We gain a sense of power, control from this. Lesson panning is less random. Perhaps this is why learning styles and other non-proven processes have proved so impactful on many teachers and trainers. Possibly we really do want evidence based education.

What the focus on learning styles and then the focus on learning style sets, where we consider a learner has a whole set of preferred learning styles which they learn with, has given us is a way of introducing variety into lessons. We are providing multiple opportunities for students to learn. Different ways to view a problem and different challenges to deal with and learn from or learn through.

How do we learn? Big question and one that does not have a simple answer. But we do know that to learn it is very helpful if the learner is presented with a puzzle. Presented with something that challenges their current knowledge. Something that presents a piece of information that is either new or in some way different from that which is currently known by the learner. Cognitive dissonance.

What might be the real value of learning styles work is that we present the learning opportunity in a way, style, that creates that dissonance and in thinking the learner learns. Perhaps it does not matter that we assign a fixed learning style set to a learner or not. What matters is that we use the list of learning styles to present the new and to be learned material is different ways so that we have a better chance of presenting the learner with the challenge.

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