Teachers aware of their own Learning Styles

Matthias Melcher, Dec 28, 2009
Commentary by Stephen Downes

We should not use the lack of evidence as a reason to believe that learning styles don't exist. So argues Matthias Melcher in this post, citing the Critical Thinking video mentioned elsewhere in today's newsletter. I would hasten to add that what has been lacking is a very specific form of evidence: a demonstrated change in short term test grades resulting from tailoring teaching according to teaching styles. The paradigm in which this evidence is not obtained, in other words, is a strictly instructivist model, where learning is defined as nothing other than achievement on a test. The primae facie case for learning styles is not tested at all (probably because the results are obvious): teaching a blind person using textbooks, teaching deaf people using audio lectures. Arguments such as the one offered in the Chronicle are not logically sound. They cite the lack of evidence as evidence. Based on the prima facie evidence, a more reasonable course would be to measure the extent and limits of learning styles, rather than to make blanket black-white assertions about them.
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