Learning Styles: Neuromyth Debunked

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In our work, we often encounter educational beliefs that have no research basis or scientific support. One is the notion that instructional strategies must be matched to individual learning styles. As Hattie and Yates (2014) write, “…there is not any recognised evidence suggesting that knowing or diagnosing learning styles will help you to teach your students any better than not knowing their learning style” (p. 176, Visible Learning and the Science of How We Learn).

While all students benefit when what they are learning is presented in multiple ways – visually, aurally, kinesthetically – scientists have not been able to pigeonhole learning into discrete categories or “styles.”

Learning depends on what is being taught, how much students know about what is being taught, and how motivated they are to learn it. Effective teachers use this information to differentiate instruction. In other words, they focus on differences that actually matter for learning – the content, students’ experiences with the content, and their motivation related to learning the content.

Here are four comprehensive research reviews on learning styles:

For specific studies of various learning-styles approaches, check the reference lists of these reviews. Additionally, here is an example of a study examining a specific learning-styles approach (i.e., visual vs. auditory) published more recently:

These articles are easier to read:

For more information, Daniel Willingham, a professor of psychology at the University of Virginia, has a website with FAQs and videos related to learning styles.