Do Learning Styles Really Matter?

Learning style and teaching style are both topics of much debate and even controversy in today’s educational systems all around the world. There are even different learning style models. There are two main and opposing schools of thought, simply those who believe that learning styles matter and those who believe that the way people learn has not conclusively been proved to matter. Those who believe that learning styles matter are also of the belief that teachers should cater their lessons to each type of learning style.

One of the most widely used learning style models is the VAK model, which has three learning types: 1. Visual Learners, 2. Auditory Learners, and 3. Kinesthetic or Tactile Learners. Visual learners learn by seeing or reading, auditory learners absorb more by hearing, and kinesthetic or tactile learners must have a hands-on approach in order to obtain the information being taught. There are many different learning style models, some having up to 7 different types of learners, many of which are combinations or closely related to the three main VAK styles. The one thing that is not debated is that there are indeed different learning styles and that different people learn quicker or retains information better depending on how the information is presented. The main area of debate seems to be whether or not teaching styles need to be adapted to the different learning styles. Opponents of the learning style approach maintain that there is not enough conclusive data from studies to prove that those who have a certain learning style cannot learn by other approaches or different, varied teaching styles. Many psychologists and teachers agree that combinations of different teaching styles are necessary for learning regardless of their learning style. In addition, much research also shows that learning is often dependent on the motivation. Because there are so many factors involved in learning, it is very hard for researchers to study. Coming up with conclusive evidence is very difficult because of the varied instances that must be presented during testing; once a subject has learned something one way, it is impossible to replicate a similar situation to test a different style of learning or style teaching.

This article is not going to solve the debate about learning and teaching styles. Just because you and your college roommate like the same dorm room décor doesn’t mean that you have the same learning style. However, the main lesson to take away here is that each individual should take the time to discover what type of learning style they have, and take that into consideration when taking classes, and studying new information so that each individual takes control of their own learning.

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