Learning Styles: Fact?
Posted By Doug Peterson
Are learning styles fact or fiction? There’s a lot of debate on this subject, so I’d like to join in by presenting each side of the case: the pros in this post and the cons in my next post.
I am fascinated by the idea of learning styles, especially in the context of eLearning and instructor-led, web-based classes (where while delivered live, you don’t have physical proximity/motion/interaction between the instructor and the students).
Here are some points that favor the idea of learning styles.
This short article explains the concept nicely: Different people learn best in different ways, and effective teaching takes this into account. While as many as 71 different learning styles have been proposed, the four most common are:
- Visual: the learner learns best by looking at things – charts, graphs, pictures, videos, etc.
- Auditory: the learner learns best by hearing things, for example, listening to lectures or podcasts.
- Tactile: the learner learns best by touching something.
- Kinesthetic: the learner learns best by doing something.
Hence a visual learner, for instance, will learn better when the material is presented visually; they will not learn as well when the material is presented as a lecture.
Taking this into account as an instructor, I could design my course to accommodate all of these styles. For example, if I’m putting together an eLearning module, I would include lots of graphics and short bullet points for the visual learner. I would also include audio narration for the auditory learner. (The visual learner could turn off the audio.)
It’s a little tough to incorporate a tactile element in eLearning, but depending on the subject matter, perhaps I could have participants create an origami widget. And for the kinesthetic learner, the origami widget exercise might be useful since it is at least a little bit of movement. At the very least, I could break my course into several very short chunks so that the kinesthetic learner could get up and move around between chunks. Or maybe I could assign a lab where they have to go to the local office supply store and research some prices–or something like that.
Wow. That’s a lot of work.
And it may not be worth it.
I’ll tell you why in my next post.