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Over the last twenty years or so the learning to learn agenda has made much of the idea that learners have different styles of learning and that to teach to these styles will actually improve learning. The statutory guidance for teachers from the Government has much to say about V A K learning styles (Visual, Auditory and Kinaesthetic).

Many teachers have embraced the notion that it is 'good' to develop work which supports individual learning styles and of course it does seem to make sense of an intuition that 'different people learn in different ways'.

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Over 70 different models of learning styles have been proposed and few, if any, lack any sound basis in empirical research.

It seems like this blog could be the place to start a discussion about this issue, especially in the light of yet another report which shows that there is no evidence to support the notion that 'visual learners' learn best from 'visual stimuli' and 'auditory learners' learn best from 'auditory stimuli'.

The key problem seems to be that most of the studies undertaken to test this idea have been flawed in their methodology. It seems that this 'nice', 'simple' and 'intuitive' idea has not been tested scientifically.

I for one have been guilty of perpetuating this 'myth', but in recent years I have found myself challenging the overly simplistic approaches used by some schools. It may not surprise you to discover that there are some schools which 'set' pupils according to their learning styles . This is quite an horrendous idea!

Even if the 'hypothesis' that individuals have clearly defined learning styles is correct surely part of an educators role is to work to 'extend' the capabilities of their students and not limit them with yet another label! Indeed in one school I visited I heard s pupil remark . "I can't do it that way because I am a kinesthetic learner!"

Not a the most empowering of belief systems there then!

The learning style questionnaires that many teachers use are at best overly simplistic and at worst totally meaningless the results artifacts of the questions rather than offering any real objective assessment of 'how a student learns best'

Surely the way in which we learn something depends more on what we are learning and the context in which we are learning that some notional 'fixed' learning preference yes, and FIXED is often the way these learning styles are implied as being.

Where a consideration of learning styles IS valuable is in encouraging the teacher to plan a varied diet of learning activities this is good practice anyway.

The 'fun questionnaires' used for 'identifying learning styles' are also valuable in promoting a classroom discussion of the different ways we can learn provided that the discussion results in the exploration of specific learning tools and approaches.

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Posted in Sport Post Date 09/27/2016