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    This article is a bit strange. It seems to be arguing that learning styles don’t work (ok), but then interviews… neuroscientists? That isn’t a particularly relevant field, because it studies very low-level phenomena and doesn’t have much solid to say about high-level phenomena, like whether the relationship between learning outcomes and information-delivery modalities across a population is relatively constant or differs for subgroups.

    I think this is the part that is specifically off,

    The assumption behind learning myths seems to be based on the scientific fact that different regions of the cortex have different roles in visual, auditory, and sensory processing, and so students should learn differently “according to which part of their brain works better.” However, writes Howard-Jones, “the brain’s interconnectivity makes such an assumption unsound.”

    That’s not the assumption they’re based on, at least not in the better parts of the learning-styles literature. The hypothesis, whether right or wrong, is a higher-level one, that different students are better able to acquire information through different communication modalities: reading books, traditional lectures, interactive museum exhibits, learning from peers, whatever. This, if true, would have some brain-related component, but nothing as 1-to-1 as “which part of their brain works better” or as low-level as “visual, auditory, and sensory processing”. The difference between listening to a lecture and reading a book, for example, isn’t purely an “auditory processing” vs. “visual processing” difference, since reading competence is more complex than simply being good at seeing. Some learning-styles people do gloss that as “visual vs. auditory learners”, which is sloppy terminology that should be avoided, but not the actual hypothesis. And the hypothesis that some students learn better from peers and others from traditional didactic instruction isn’t based on a belief that some students have better “peer neurons” or something. These are all higher-level hypotheses.

    The theory could be entirely wrong, of course, with no real clustering of people according to communication modalities they’re better or worse at learning from. But posing the question that way is pretty different from how this article is posing it.

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      Right. I also wonder how much is success influenced by motivation when I am not forced to learn something. I would expect that the likelihood of me persevering in learning a new subject is higher if I can do it in a preferred way even if it might not be optimal otherwise.

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        Right. Learning styles are a psychology or even sociology topic of study. It’s not a neuroscience myth at all; it has as much to do with neuroscience as e.g. economics does.

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          Neuroscience is pretty broad. There is a sub discipline, called Cognitive Neuroscience, that studies the neural underpinnings of cognitive phenomena, so it tries to link low level functions with high level functions, but it’s all neuroscience.

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          Popular media article about popular media misinterpreting neuroscience misinterprets research.

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            An excellent article on the problems of "learning styles" with links to some interesting research. I was fortunate to attend a lecture in 2007 where Frank Coffield thoroughly debunked "learning styles"

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              Agreed; they’re a classic myth and it would be nice if education policy acknowledged that. Of course, education policy doesn’t really acknowledge any research. (That’s a strong statement because I have personal feelings about the topic.)

              Unfortunately there’s a really important point that needs to be made in tandem with this, and usually isn’t: Accessibility issues remain an important reason that course material needs to be available in a variety of forms.

              Personally, it’s simply impossible for me to make out the lecturer’s words in a crowded lecture hall, and written material is the only good solution. That happens to be for a neurological reason - the auditory processing issue associated with autism - but there are plenty of non-neurological issues, including vision and hearing impairments.

              There’s a popular counterargument that lecturers shouldn’t worry about accessibility unless they’re legally forced to. I have nothing polite to say to that. :)

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                Anybody who has ever had to deal with being early to class to grab a seat in front, or deal in primary school with the stigma of bad vision and having to upset seating charts (or worse, being ignored and shoved in the back away from the board) appreciates how important accessibility is. B(

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                  Unfortunately there’s a really important point that needs to be made in tandem with this, and usually isn’t: Accessibility issues remain an important reason that course material needs to be available in a variety of forms.

                  Also, my understanding of the research is that although individual learning styles aren’t really a thing, approaches to learning which intermix the different “styles” work better for everyone.

                  (Source: I read a book recently)

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                    If you can engage your learners then the learning is better - the problem facing many teachers is that they have to get students to pass exams. Exams are good at showing that you are good at exams…

                    "Education is an admirable thing, but it is well to remember from time to time that nothing that is worth knowing can be taught."

                    A few maxims for the instruction of the over-educated (Saturday Review, November, 1894) Oscar Wilde

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                      I don’t agree with the Wilde quote (unless s/nothing/not everything/), but yes, the focus on exams is quite damaging. There’s a light essay on it that I really like. That link goes to the editor’s note, for context on why it was printed; clicking through from there will take you to the 25-page PDF. My favorite quote from this piece:

                      SIMPLICIO: But then [in the absence of testing] how can schools guarantee that their students will all have the same basic knowledge? How will we accurately measure their relative worth?

                      This follows a long explanation of a proposed alternative, with objections interspersed that sound pretty similar to ones I’ve heard. :)

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                        Thanks @Irene for pointing out A Mathematician’s Lament, it was such an inspiring read that I was going to submit it to lobsters - but discovered it was submitted already.

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                          I found this response, which I’d missed at the time, doing a search. Thanks! Now I have a canonical link for it here. :)