Questioning Learning-Styles Theory

By Anthony Rebora — March 29, 2012 1 min read
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Michael Cholbi, a contributor to an interesting teaching philosophy blog called In Socrates’ Wake, reviews recent research discounting the influential theory that students have distinct learning styles that teachers should try to cater to (which is not to say, he cautions, that students don’t have important learning differences). He adds that adherence to the learning style theory can have “Dweck effects” on students, causing them to adopt fixed mindsets about what they can and cannot learn. He expands:

And if, as I have argued before, disciplines tend to come with certain learning styles built in (philosophy requires strong verbal skills, dance strong kinesthetic skills, etc.), students who see a mismatch between their preferred style and a discipline will end [up] doing themselves a disservice. Rather than adapting to the disciplinary content and trying to develop the skills the discipline rewards, the student will decide (in a way that reflects [educational pyschologist Carol] Dweck's fixed intelligence mindset) that she simply cannot learn the discipline—a self-fulfilling prophecy for sure.

[HT: The Daily Dish]

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A version of this news article first appeared in the Teaching Now blog.