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The Myth of ‘Learning Styles’ (via Olga Zhazan at The Atlantic)

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The Atlantic is a print and online journal that deals with culture and politics.
This article about people having different learning styles (i.e. visual or aural), a proposition that simply entered public consciousness as truth a decade or two ago, has had profound impacts for teachers and communicators.
The substance of the article is the concept of people being able learn more effectively through the means that is most suited to them is not proven and doesn’t hold true when tested.
The rise of the proposition has more to do with individualism and self-esteem philosophies than effective education.
Just because you prefer a particular means of information communication, it does not necessarily follow that that particular means is actually most effective in every situation.

[a] study published last year in the British Journal of Psychology found that students who preferred learning visually thought they would remember pictures better, and those who preferred learning verbally thought they’d remember words better. But those preferences had no correlation to which they actually remembered better later on—words or pictures. Essentially, all the “learning style” meant, in this case, was that the subjects liked words or pictures better, not that words or pictures worked better for their memories.

A takeaway from this is to focus not so much on the learner, but on what is the best means of communicating the information at hand.
There will be different communication techniques that are appropriate for different outcomes, but the outcome should be a primary determiner of means, rather than the preference of the learner.

Read the whole article online at The Atlantic.

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