I’ve often referred to learning styles as one of the great unicorns in education. If you believe they are real, I challenge you to prove it! We currently have no evidence they exist and we have plenty of learning theories, with tons of evidence, showing how we learn. Those theories are contrary to learning styles. So if you don’t believe what I am telling you, what the research shows, please prove me wrong! I dare you! In fact, this site, worklearning.com will actually pay you $5,000 if you can prove they are real! So let me tell you how to do it if you are inclined to prove me wrong!
How to prove learning styles are real:
- 1. Select a learning style test. There are 100s so you need to pick one. Each defines learning styles differently (just the start of the nonsense that is learning styles)
- 2. Show validity and reliability evidence for the test (i describe in the video below how to do this)
- 3. Give the test to participants and divide them into 2 groups (ie visual vs kinesthetic)
- 4. Have at least 35 people in each group
- 5. Develop content for each group. For one group, use only their learning style. For example, for the visual group develop only visual content. Then for the kinesthetic group use both visual and verbal content.
- 6. Test participants on high (problem solving) and low (factual) content and compare results. You must prove that learning style made a difference. So you would need the visual group to perform best.
What do you think the results will be?
If you believe in learning styles and choose to ignore all research: You would believe that the Kinesthetic group should do terrible. They learn best with hands on activities. The visual group will do better because they are getting visual content.
If you believe is 1000s of research studies we currently have, all data, all evidence: The kinesthetic group will outperform the visual group on factual and problem solving knowledge. Why? Because we know that people learn better from visual and audio vs just visual. Learning style, learning preference, etc. has no bearing on this. You can say you are a visual learner, hands on learner, etc all you want but it doesn’t matter. You will perform well when you have well designed instruction regardless of what you think your learning style is.
And if you think the content was unfair since the kinesthetic group had visual + audio narration, just give both groups the same visual content and guess what, they will both perform the same. The visual group would NOT outperform the other group. Learning styles do NOT matter because they aren’t real. We have countless studies showing this phenomenon.
Here is a video that walks you through this: