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Learning styles: Research and Expert Opinion


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Published in: Education, Technology
  • Chuck, I also recommend you check out this study into the psychometric validity of learning styles instruments: Coffield, F., Mosely, D., Hall, E., & Ecclestone, K. (2004). Should we be using learning styles? What research has to say to practice. London: Learning & Skills Research Centre.
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  • Very interesting, Dr. Hodges. In my undergraduate program, we were really taught a lot about learning styles and how to accommodate the different learning styles. Definitely look forward to doing more research on this matter.
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Learning styles: Research and Expert Opinion

  2. 2. PURPOSE The purpose of this collection of slides is to provide a reference for individuals who want a quick glimpse into the research base regarding learning styles.
  3. 3. CHARGE There are many opinions and beliefs regarding learning styles in Education. I urge you to move away from beliefs and opinions that are not formed from a careful exploration of the scholarly works on the topic. The information in these slides is a starting point for your exploration.
  4. 4. MORRISON, ROSS, KALMAN, & KEMP “Despite the extensive literature on learning styles, questions remain regarding the degree to which such styles can be matched to teaching methods with any benefits to learning (Knight, Halpin & Halpin, 1992; Park & Lee, 2004; Snow 1992). ” (p. 59) Morrison, G.R., Ross, S.M., Kalman, H.K., & Kemp, J.E. (2011). Designing effective instruction (6th ed.). Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.
  5. 5. Mr. Wallace has assembled some great comments from respected learning professionals. References are included. Wallace, G.W. (November, 2011). Why is the research on learning styles still being dismissed by some learning leaders and practitioners? eLearn Magazine. Retrieved from: http://
  6. 6. DEMBO & HOWARD “...learning style instruments have not been shown to be valid and reliable, there is no benefit to matching instruction to preferred learning style, and there is no evidence that understanding one’s learning style improves learning and its related outcomes.” (p. 107) “We urge instructors to reconsider their instructional practices, especially the advice they give students about learning styles, and base their practices on sound research.” (p. 107). Dembo, M.H., & Howard, K. (2007). Advice about the use of learning styles: A major myth in education. Journal of College Reading and Learning, 37(2), p. 101-109
  7. 7. KIRSCHNER & VAN MERRIËNBOER “The second legend is the widespread belief that learners have specific learning styles and that education should be individualized to the extent that the pedagogy of teaching/ learning is matched to the preferred style of the learner.” Kirschner, P.A., & van Merriënboer, J.G. (2013). Do learners really know best? Urban legends in Education. Educational Psychologist 48(3), 169-183. doi:10.1080/00461520.2013.804395
  8. 8. Dr. Steve Wheeler is an Associate Professor of Learning Technology at Plymouth University. This blog post, A Convenient Untruth, is nicely done and is very accessible for many audiences. Wheeler, S. (November, 2011). A convenient untruth. Learning with ‘e’s [blog]. Retrieved from:
  9. 9. PASHLER, MCDANIEL, ROHRER, & BJORK “We conclude therefore, that at present, there is no adequate evidence base to justify incorporating learning-styles assessments into general educational practice. Thus, limited education resources would better be devoted to adopting other educational practices that have a strong evidence base, of which there are an increasing number...Further research on the use of learning-styles assessment in instruction may in some cases be warranted, but such research needs to be performed appropriately.” (p. 105) Pashler, H., McDaniel, M., Rohrer, D., & Bjork, R. (2009). Learning styles: Concepts and evidence. Psychological Science in the Public Interest, 9(3), 105-119. doi: 10.1111/j. 1539-6053.2009.01038.x
  10. 10. DANIEL T. WILLINGHAM, PH.D. Dr. Willingham is a Professor of Cognitive Psychology at the University of Virginia. He authored a popular YouTube movie on learning styles, and he has assembled an FAQ on learning styles.
  11. 11. FINAL CHARGE You will find many resources promoting learning styles as an essential element of teaching and learning. For example, they are referenced by NCATE (standard 4) and by ISTE (NETS-T). Review the resources provided in this set of slides. You can find more. Do not accept learning styles as a truth because it feels right, because you read about it in a book, or because you have seen them in your classroom. Consider the scholarly evidence. Think critically.
  12. 12. The information in this set of slides has been compiled over time with help from friends and colleagues. My thanks to those of you who have pointed me to these resources, especially: Michael M. Grant and Michael K. Barbour. Charles B. Hodges, Ph.D. 2014