It's Not About Learning Styles... It's About Good Teaching

More evidence to support my previous post...

Education: Learning Styles Debunked from

Idea of Learning Styles in Education Further Derided by Psychology Researchers from

This research does not mean that we shouldn't use various methods and media to deliver content to our students. It just means that we shouldn't try to limit ourselves due to the labeling process that the learning styles movement has been pushing for the past decade or so.

Good teachers use audio, video, group activities, critical thinking, and many other methods throughout their teaching. It is the combination of these that makes a teacher effective. It isn't about reaching the "auditory" or "kinesthetic" or "visual" learner. Rather, we should strive to reach ALL students through auditory, visual, and kinesthetic means. In the end, we all learn from the information we gather through each of the senses, not just one sense, as the learning styles theory would have us believe.


  1. We also have to be careful if we're evaluating (or being evaluated) based on "learning styles." I'm all for working to reach all kids, but if the research does not support the idea of "learning styles," we should not be evaluated on how well we teach toward each style in every lesson.

  2. I approach this with two phrases....rotate and empower... teachers should rotate instruction creating lots of style opportunities... students should be empowered to ask for what would help,"I'm having trouble PICTURING this." "Could you show mw the STEPS again"

    I do find that students need to uncover study styles that work best for them...Group discussing and studying out loud has greater payoffs for me than with a book alone.... I know other who do better with the book alone.


  3. Research supports the use of differentiated instruction, learning styles, and multiple intelligences plenty.

    I don't really think there is an argument either way- you provide opportunities for all students to learn in all different ways. That's good differentiation. I haven't seen any reasonable educator propose teaching a lesson 8 different ways (time makes this completely impossible).

    Now, I do believe that once you find a students' specific strength, be it learning style, intelligence, or simply interest area, that you should do whatever you can to deliver content through that strength to that student. This doesn't mean shortchanging the other students- it's about going the extra mile to reach a kid that hasn't been traditionally successful.

    Another component of learning styles and MI theory that I'm very glad to see happen is it's forcing educators away from the heavily dominated current era of emphasis on logical-mathematical and linguistic traits. This alone gives the learning style movement value in my book.

  4. Thank you. Wonderful post. As an Occupationl Therapist, I know that the brain and body requires various sensory input to react effectively. When one sensory system is lacking, other systems take over and over compensate at times. This is a nice overview of how sensory systems work to integrate a child into learning, compensating, and reacting to his environment. The more integrated a child is, the better he is to adapt to his environment and be able to process new information effectively.

    Strengths in a child are important. On a digression, my now 5th grade son has a wonderful teacher. Kevin enjoys him and enjoys learning. His 4th grade teacher repeatedly told Kevin what he did wrong. Yes, she would tell him what he did right, however the "wrong" "not good enough" words stayed in his brain and he lost confidence. Once a child loses confidence, it is very hard to pull him back and get him to take ownership of his work in school.

    Great blog, Kerry. I love it :)

  5. To the discussion add the fact that learning styles (a checklist of differences found in any given group of humans), simply represent how complicated we are based on our genetics combined with our enculturation/nurturing. So as stated earlier, teachers can't reasonably teach a lesson in 8 different ways, but teachers can reasonably differentiate by blending modes across days and units, using experiential learning as much as possible, and allowing for legitimate peripheral participation as much as possible (all students don't engage and contribute in the same way). If teachers are micromanaged and checked on exactly how and when they are "delivering" lessons per some evaluation/merit scale, everything suffers - creativity is diminished for everyone, and when that spark goes, school takes on the meaninglessness written about so often these days.


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