There seems to be a renewed enthusiasm for discussing the pros and cons of learning styles and you can find many opinions published online. I must admit that as a trainer I have often questioned why many training organisations conduct learning style assessments, but do little with the results in a practical sense apart from record them. When teachers are designing their courses taking into consideration the mix of learning styles in the class, I wonder whether they have clear evidence that doing this improves the learning outcomes for learners. Of course it is imperative that the delivery and assessment method reflects the accessibility needs of a learner, but I believe it is in the interest of the learner’s development that their preferred learning styles are broadened and not unduly focussed upon.
According to recent research conducted by major US universities there is no correlation between learning styles and successful learning. This was also the opinion of Paul Howard-Jones of the University of Bristol who earlier this year said that research actually suggests that children learn better when presented with information in a way that takes them out of their ‘comfort zone’. So the discussions and opinions will rumble on, but perhaps the findings from research conducted by the Princeton Neuroscience Institute back in June, will be more agreeable to some. They found that although we tend to have a dominant learning style, studying following this learning style does neither hinder nor benefit us. They also found that when studying using broader learning styles we can overcome our dominant learning style to learn in other ways.
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