Learning styles are dead

“Learning styles” is the believe that individuals differ in regard to what mode of instruction or study is most effective for them. Those in favor of learning styles believe that aligning instruction with the optimal or preferred learning style of students improves results. Students should be aware of their preferred learning style and the instructions for learning should be tailored accordingly.

A recent scientific review doubts these believes. Little evidence supports the idea that outcomes are best when instructional techniques align with individuals’ learning styles. Recent research looked into the next two important questions about learning styles:

  • Do students who take the VARK questionnaire (an online learning styles assessment) to identify their personal learning style adopt study strategies that align with that style?
  • Are the learning outcomes better for students whose strategies match their learning style as assessed by the VARK profile than for students whose strategies do not?
  • In short: most students are not employing study strategies that mesh with self-reported learning preferences, and the minority who do show no academic benefit. For further reading please read this excellent post on Scientific American.