Learning styles are theories that propose all people can be classified according to their style of learning. Individuals differ in how they learn and each specific way of learning that works best for them.
As an instructor, I think the best we can do is to realize that not all learners will learn as we do. We shouldn’t be adapting our lessons for individual learners, but it’s always a good idea to instruct using various tools to help all learners. This way, it will appeal to all learners sooner or later. I still use powerpoint presentations, so auditory learners are happy. I also provide lecture notes with plenty of spaces to add notes for the visual learners. I split my lesson in half, doing half lecture, half lab/clinic, so the kinesthetic learners also get their learning time in.
This video on The Myth of Individual Learning Styles makes me go hmmm? I understand what he’s saying and I agree that just because a learner happens to learn better in some particular way doesn’t mean that they aren’t able to learn in other ways. Often it’s a combination of techniques that keep students engaged in their learning. We shouldn’t be placing learners into categories or boxes that we think they fit into and then forget about them. Growth and learning doesn’t happen in that “fixed” way. I think having that “growth” mindset allows learners to grow and learn intellectually and motivates them to learn more, to be life-long learners.
Do learning styles really exist? There isn’t any data to support any better performance from teaching to learners individual learning style, so why do it?
Another good video saying learning styles don’t exist. Learning is based on “meaning” instead. Teaching is good teaching and you don’t need to adjust to individual’s learning styles. I totally agree with this video because good teaching is teaching for learning. It involves various methods of delivery of instruction. I realize that some learners will find learning easier in certain ways, but they’re capable of learning in other ways as well.
Kolb’s learning theory says that effective learning is seen when students progress through a four stage cycle, experience (having a concrete experience, followed by reflection (observation of and reflection on that experience, conceptualise (formation of abstract concepts and generalizations), test (used to test hypothesis in future situations), resulting in new experiences.
I agree with Kolb’s theory and I also agree with Maslow’s Humanistic theory of the Hierarchy of Needs. Students needing their basic needs met (food & water), a safe environment, a sense of belonging, positive motivation and then effective learning takes place.
When instructing, I consider using a blend of learning theories. Using this blend aids learners from different learning styles to all learn. Multi-sensory learning (visual, auditory, kinesthetic, tactile) is definitely beneficial for learners as is the use of Kolb’s and Maslow’s learning theories.