Teach and/or support learning
How students learn, both generally and within their subject/disciplinary area(s)
Respect individual learners and diverse learning communities
Focus less on 'tailoring' your learning; use evidence-based strategies that work for everyone
The idea of learning styles suggests that people have preferred ways of learning and that they are more successful when they receive information in a way that is consistent with their preferred learning style. According to the idea of learning styles, there are a variety of different learning styles that people may have, such as visual, auditory, or kinaesthetic. Some people may prefer to learn through visual means, such as by looking at diagrams or charts. Others may prefer to learn through auditory means, such as by listening to lectures or discussions. Still others may prefer to learn through kinaesthetic means, such as by actively participating in hands-on activities or experiments.
Many people think we need to change our teaching for 'visual' or 'kinaesthetic' learners; this is not true.
Some argue that there are different student 'learning styles' (e.g., VARK: visual, auditory, reading / writing, kinaesthetic). They argue effective teachers should match their teaching to those styles. Around 90% of school teachers and 33% of academics use learning styles. Evidence does not support this 'neuromyth'.
Fortunately, this number drops by almost half once teachers are shown the lack of evidence for learning styles. That evidence suggests good teachers do not 'match' the teaching to the learner. Instead, use a range of evidence-based strategies that leverage all presentation modalities, not because they 'fit learners', but because they fit the task and work better for all learners:
Visual learning strategies that help all learners
Spoken learning strategies that help all learners
Reading and writing learning strategies that help all learners
Why the myth persists
Good teachers use different modalities, as described above. This observation may have been confused for 'tailoring' to learner 'styles' or 'preferences.' Also, as described in the video above, some tasks are better learned using different modalities. For example, visual maps are critical for learning geography, and doing is important for taking blood pressure. This is true for all learners, and is not delineated based on learning style.
Randomised trials in this space have been conducted but seldom show benefits. Reviews have not used high-quality, quantitative methods.
E.g. Visual demonstration is important for taking blood pressure. This is true for all learners, and is not delineated based on learning style.
Systematic Reviews of Effectiveness
Coffield, F., Moseley, D., Hall, E., & Ecclestone, K. (2004). Learning styles and pedagogy in post-16 learning: a systematic and critical review. Learning and Skills Research Centre.
Systematic Reviews of Belief
Newton, P. M., & Salvi, A. (2020). How Common Is Belief in the Learning Styles Neuromyth, and Does It Matter? A Pragmatic Systematic Review. Frontiers in Education, 5, 270. https://doi.org/10.3389/feduc.2020.602451
Non-systematic Reviews of Effectiveness
Cuevas, J. (2015). Is learning styles-based instruction effective? A comprehensive analysis of recent research on learning styles. Educational Research and Evaluation: An International Journal on Theory and Practice, 13(3), 308–333. https://doi.org/10.1177/1477878515606621
Pashler, H., McDaniel, M., Rohrer, D., & Bjork, R. (2008). Learning Styles: Concepts and Evidence. Psychological Science in the Public Interest: A Journal of the American Psychological Society, 9(3), 105–119. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1539-6053.2009.01038.x