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Learning Styles

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Juliette Culver
4 February 2010

Interesting debate about the evidence for learning styles. I'd be interested to hear what other people think. 

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Gráinne Conole
6:06pm 4 February 2010 (Edited 9:48am 5 February 2010)

Wow you have opened a hornet's nest with this one!!! :-) Learning styles is a mega controversal issue as I understand it with various protagonists and opponents. Like alot of things the seemingly simplicity of the concept appeals to alot of people so they are keen to use it but don't necessarily understanding fully all the details.... Will watch this space with interest!

Giota Alevizou
8:56am 5 February 2010 (Edited 10:11am 5 February 2010)

Learning styles versus paradigms for learning: It would be interesting to see how mediated learning (e.g. in a web 2.0 context) relates to this? Do learning styles fit with the four principle aspects of the learner experience?: the cognitive, the constructive, the social and the situative...

Rebecca Galley
9:47am 5 February 2010 (Edited 9:48am 5 February 2010)

Juliette - I must get on with some work but how could I possibly resist this old favourite! Almost *nothing* winds me up more than the armchair psychology of learning styles. It concerns me enormously that powerful bodies like Ofsted have incorporated 'use of learning styles' models into their grading framework without waiting for empirical evidence of their benefit to learners

@giota I think you'd be able to find a learning styles inventory to fit anythink you like - this is one of the issues. I've added a link to Frank Coffield et al's 2004 report which focuses on the post-16 learner (incl HE). I haven't read it for a while but I think he tests 26 different learning styles frameworks.

I think Grainne's point is right - it looks simple. And of course if a learner still fails to learn after a teacher 'uses learning styles' it can be nobody's fault but their own...(bah!)

Juliette Culver
9:56am 5 February 2010 (Edited 9:56am 5 February 2010)

Thanks for adding the Frank Coffield report - I'd been trying to find it yesterday in fact but couldn't remember the details and didn't have them on my work computer!

My personal opinion in brief is that there are differences between people, but they are massively trumped by other more important things.

It's also really difficult to distinguish what is genuinely a style. Just because you always choose to learn in a particular way doesn't mean that it's actually the best way for you to learn. You might just not have 'learned' another way to learn yet.

Rebecca Galley
10:06am 5 February 2010 (Edited 10:07am 5 February 2010)

Completely - people can learn new and more powerful ways of learning. Learning styles implicitly limit and disempower - especially those who have in other ways been let down by the education system.

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