Learning styles

Learning styles

This two minute video about learning styles explores the fact that almost all learning requires a component of visual learning. As the saying goes, “a picture paints a thousand words”. Many of us have experienced having a concept described verbally to us and not quite cottoned on.  Then we see a  picture explaining the concept and suddenly it seems easy to understand. We have used the visual learning style.

Do learning styles exist?

Learning styles are different to Multiple Intelligences, the theory developed by Howard Gardner (see other posts for discussions about Multiple Intelligences). There is much debate amongst learning theorists about whether learning styles really exist. Valid research hasn’t yet been conducted to resolve this question.

Those that promote learning styles vary in their opinions about how many there are. The least appears to be about seven styles. Some theorists claim their are up to 70!! The most common list includes visual, verbal, musical/auditory, physical/kinaesthetic (requiring movement to learn), logical/mathematical, social and solitary.

The reality in the classroom

The best teachers, who may know nothing about learning style theoretical debates, continue to offer excellent education using a variety of presentation methods. Teachers who present content in engaging and innovative ways continue to create pathways to success for students. This is regardless of student learning style preferences. One learning style that is self-evident is the visual style. We all have two eyes for a reason. Early man required sight to identify animals, and react to them in a fight or flight mode. The next time a large bear appeared, it was time to run away.

A problem relating to learning styles

A major problem  has emerged from learning style theory being applied in classrooms. Frequently students have labelled themselves as having a particular learning style. They get worse results than they are capable of. Experiments show that a combination of styles works best. That is why, at Brave Heart Tutoring, students are taught a variety of learning styles. Sometimes they are asked to work outside their “comfort zone”. They often find a combination of styles that suits them better. It usually, but not always, includes pictures and colours.