19 Replies Latest reply: Feb 4, 2013 2:24 PM by cmuller RSS

What's your opinion about learning styles?

NaomiAtAmericanHistory Novice
Currently Being Moderated

I was wondering how many of you heard the story on NPR, "Think You're an Auditory or Visual Learner? Scientists Say It's Unlikely," in which psychologists question the scientific basis of learning styles, and encourage teachers to vary their teaching methods but not tailor their lessons for specific students’ (perceived) styles.  What's your response?  Based on your experience, do you agree or disagree with these findings, or has this changed your thinking about your lessons? To what extent do you tailor for specific students, or are you more inclined to vary your method of instruction anyway, as the researcher suggests?



National Museum of American History

  • Re: What's your opinion about learning styles?
    robbenwainer New User
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    I have worked with students who have needed to develop their own ability to function in considerations of the conditions that have caused their digression. Many of these students feel it is required of them to have an understanding of printed text. I have also worked with and facilitated discussions in forums where my groups felt satisfied that they were learning key factors from my instruction, that would help them relate their experiences to the topic covered. While both make a clear point. I would tend to agree with my later groups, that their functioning level in understanding learning material can expand extensively, by their being resourceful in the matriculation of core concepts and attainment of critical thinking.


    Thank You,


    Robben Wainer

  • Re: What's your opinion about learning styles?
    Tammy Dewan Novice
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    What an interesting topic to ponder!  I think it is fascinating to learn how the brain works and learns new things.  After reading the NPR article, I am not sold on the idea that “it's a mistake to assume students will respond and remember information better depending on how it's presented.” I do agree that as teachers we do need to “mix it up to boost attention”.  So one way you present the material might gather some students’ attention better than another method.  I do better when a teacher provides graphic organizers, charts and pictures rather than just listening to a teacher lecture in front of the classroom.  What about the brain research that has been done on young girls vs young boys.  I have been to classes where they showed us how different parts of the brain are active when learning and a girl’s brain activity looks different than a boy’s brain activity.  I would think that this would impact how a student learns.  I also learned in that class that kindergarten boys learned 200% more when they were active or in rocking chairs.  When a teacher made the young boys sit still, they brain tended to shut off for short periods of time.  Therefore, young boys seemed to learn best when doing things themselves.

    • Re: What's your opinion about learning styles?
      gacpoet New User
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      I believe this is the key to negative labels place on students early in many student school years and lives. We assess learning styles at intake,students learn at that moment what methods are effective for them. This really can make a difference in so many of their lives. I refer to it as a  goal setting motivation tool.

    • Re: What's your opinion about learning styles?
      NaomiAtAmericanHistory Novice
      Currently Being Moderated

      What an interesting statistic about kindergarten boys, Tammy! Like you it seems just from my own experience that some of us retain information better in one way than another.  I know I have a hard time remembering information I've heard and not seen, but others do better just by listening.  I'm eager to see more research on this topic, but agree that at the very least, it helps us all to be given information in a variety of ways.


  • Re: What's your opinion about learning styles?
    toolkit New User
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    I have observed and tested learning Styles approaches. My opinion: Learning Styles are super-important and crucial for quality teaching.


    The problems?


    1.) Sloppy and over-broad definitions -  only one dimension; i.e., visual, auditory, tactile-proprioceptive. The three-dimension approach is like fishing with a safety pin for a fishhook and only using earthworms for bait.


    2.) One-size fits all Teaching - every student must do the same assignment lesson planning, every student must hear the same lecture...


    3.) The effects of stress are not factored into the Teaching and Learning Equation - Under stress, we tend to revert to our least-favored learning styles


    4.) Ignoring basic learning principles such as The Curve of Forgetting, the ZiegarniK Effect, the Magic Number (Seven Plus or Minus Two Span of Consciousness),Last Item Learned, "Reticular Activating System" (RAS) brain filtering. the Role of Surprise, Suggestion of Learning Competence, Neuro-Lingusitic Programming (NLP) Anchoring techniques, Lack of Attention to the 90 - 120 minute Attention-Body Cycles,  Multiple Intelligences, etc.


    5.) A tendency to focus upon remediation instead of focusing upon students' strengths



    I apply a modified Multi-Modal Behavioral Counseling Model to Learning Styles, and use a nine-item assessment. Then, I look for where students supply the incorrect category of information and I look for gaps in information what students cannot supply any content.


    The B.A.S.I.C I.F.S.S. Model:


    B - Behavior

    A - Affect

    S - Sensation

    I - Imagery

    C - Cognition


    I - Interpersonal Relationships

    F - Body Functioning (Energy, Dreams, Stress, Diet, Sleep Cycles)

    S - Self-Talk

    S - Self-Identity (Self-Concept, Self-Esteem, Ideals, Personal Goals, Religious Beliefs, Spiritual Search)


    Also, listen to the verbs that students use. The verbs that students use reveal how they process information (NLP rapport building). Match students' verbs during instruction.


    Strategies that fit the Learning Styles Model: Multiple Intelligences, Mutual Storytelling Technique, Total Physical Response (TPR) and Total Physical Response - Story.


    Ask better questions and the debate about Learning Styles dissipates.


    Teachers who are "Naturals" employ an intuitive understanding and an unconscious (even effortless) "Learning Styles Skill Set." Other teachers appear clueless about this important aspect of communication and learning.

    • Re: What's your opinion about learning styles?
      Kingston Apprentice
      Currently Being Moderated

      Thank you so much for your post!  You have really deepen this conversation, and I am interested in your thoughts on,

      "Also, listen to the verbs that students use. The verbs that students use reveal how they process information (NLP rapport building). Match students' verbs during instruction."


      Can you please give us some examples or more information on this concept, as I think every teacher would LOVE to hear more.  I would rather it come from you, but if you could give us some URL's on this concept, that would be great.


      Once again, thank you for taking the time/effort to inform us of your take on learning styles, and looking forward to your response.



    • Re: What's your opinion about learning styles?
      kscarpato New User
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      I feel that you have explained the idea very well about learning styles!  The one size fits all teaching does not work any more so using the modified Multi-Modal Behavioral Counseling Model to Learning Styles seems to encompass the whole child instead of just how they learn.  I am also interested in the verbs they use as indicators of their learning.  I will look for your response soon!

      Thank you!!

      • Re: What's your opinion about learning styles?
        toolkit New User
        Currently Being Moderated

        Listening to the verbs that students use developed from basic Neuro-Linguistic Programming techniques.


        The process is simple and easy for teachers to employ.


        Just remember...


        Code below: { phrases in curly brackets } = Sensory Verbs and Phrases


        1.) You cannot understand what is going on within the thinking of students unless the student tells you.Even then you have to explore the Multi-Modal components of that experience before you {get in touch with / see clearly/ hear congruently} what the student expresses


        2.) Your assumptions about what is going on within the thinking of each student is guaranteed to be "95-Plus-%-Wrong!"


        3.) You must always test your hypotheses. If you test {by digging deeper, by reflecting, by asking for restatement} , you will know. If you fail to test, you remain {"lost and groping," "out of focus in a fog," and, "distracted by your own static}."


        4.) When students are {relaxed and feeling comfortable/ in focus/ in tune with} themselves, they think "Primarily" with their preferred (strongest/ sharpest/ most amplified) modes of sensory thought


        5.) Under stress, students (and their teachers) revert to their least-favored (weakest/ dimmest/ least amplified) modes of sensory thought


        The steps:


        1.) Listen to verbs that each student uses (This is not a group exercise, although you can manage group observations with structured data recording techniques.)


        2.) Ignore the content of what the student is saying. You are listening only for sensory thinking processes (those verbs)


        3.) Classify the verbs as:


                  a.) Tactile, Kinesthetic, Proprioceptive (Sense of Touch) [About 75% of students {will fall into/ be seen as/ sound congruent with} this category


                  b.) Visual (Sense of Vision) [About 24% of students {will be found to be placed/ be seen to be targeted/ resonate with} this category]


                  c.) Auditory (Sense of Hearing) [About 1% of students {will feel comfortable/ see themselves clearly in/ be in harmony with} this category]


        This model demonstrates the reason that "Teacher Talk" proves so ineffective for instruction. While teachers talk, students {squirm and squiggle on their chairs / daydream and watch their own internal picture shows/ tune out and listen to their own self-talk}.


        The reason that you need to ask sensory processing questions, and test your hypotheses concerning each person's preferred mode of thinking is that...


        1.) Some communicators develop/ learn/ adopt/ adapt with an "instinctive/ intuitive " skill for matching the patterns of others


        2.) Some communicators, such as teachers and counselors, train themselves to map verbs of all three sensory processes into one sentence


        3.) Bilingual folks, whose native language is Verb-Driven (such as the Romance Languages), process thoughts based upon ideas in relationship to verbs


        4.) There is a difference between inductive thinkers and deductive thinkers


        One benefit of discovering the sensory processing preferences of your students is to assign "Visual" students to student project groups as "Resources." Students with visual processing skills enrich projects, so make sure that the project group knows the visual/ graphic/ image-related abilities that the group can take advantage of. If there are not enough "Visual" students to assign one to every group, share these students' time among multiple groups.


        And, if you discover an "Auditory" student; teach them to ask questions, and assign them as consultants!


        Practice mapping verbs of these three sensory modalities into single (sometimes two) sentences. Also, acquire the habit of using verbs that are mapped to multiple senses:




        • Aim
        • Target
        • Focus
        • Sense
        • Perceive
        • Realize
        • Concentrate
        • Discover
        • Tone
        • Fade


        Refinement: When speaking to groups of students, and mapping verbs; look at the "Visual" students as you speak the verbs related to visual senses.


        As you master these skills, you may discover that your language becomes "Hypnotic."


        Example of a Hypnotic Suggestion for Positive Outcomes:


        "Enjoy and be delighted by the harmony and satisfaction of knowing, doing, seeing, feeling, realizing and making contact with the soft, gentle tones that images of success play upon using the keys and strings of self-image that vibrates in the heart of your feelings and in your mind's eye.


        Discover how stress dissolves, fades and dissipates; as the light of solid reasoning and the self-confidence of apparent problem-solving-success soothes, smoothes and silences distractions, irritations and suppresses any sense of off-key, faded-color; undoing the unbalance in your experience of yourself.


        Face newly-formed,bright and sweet-sounding optimism; enlightened with smiles, calling a glimmer to your eye and a fragrant, dancing sound in your heart as you apply the intuitions and wisdom of mastery and achievement in those most desired and most wanted self-improvements in your capacity for holistic, boundless, learning success."


        When you use verbs in this way, you "Overload" and "Overwhelm" students' sensory-resistence-barriers so that defense mechanisms (that operate at 1/36th of a second***) prove unable to reject the positive message.


        *** I wish that I could remember this reference.

  • Re: What's your opinion about learning styles?
    Lynne Hoffman Apprentice
    Currently Being Moderated

    As additional food for thought regarding learning styles, I suggest that you read the blog All in a Data Filled Day by cgiddens posted in the Community Hub.  She shares some sites to help assess multiple intelligence and cognitive styles.  Also, she mentions some Thinkfinity resources and activities that address a variety of learning styles.

    • Re: What's your opinion about learning styles?
      cmuller Novice
      Currently Being Moderated

      Hi Lynne,


        I am a hard worker so I will help anyone having difficulties and change my teaching style to meet the needs of my students' specific learning styles. I also use my students interests along with their learning styles. When a Homebound Instructor, I had a variety of students. One was very strong with oral presentations, some others were tactile or kinesthetic and artistic, and another student liked to take things apart and place them back together.



  • Re: What's your opinion about learning styles?
    abeanland New User
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    My students have learning disabilities so I do a great deal of activities in which the students determine their learning styles.  I feel that in order to learn compensatory strategies, they must understand everything about themselves.  If they know that they are an auditory learner, then they probably need to read out loud in order to hear themselves read, etc.  As a teacher, we do not need to know every students learning style, we must teach in a multisensory way.  If we engage the students and force them to use all modalities, then every learning style is covered.

  • Re: What's your opinion about learning styles?
    jvoneye New User
    Currently Being Moderated

    Many learning styles. In a shop setting Reading instructions is good but demonstrations and hands on are the best for me, they have to see.  It is great when your doing a hands on their eyes light up and you know they got it.

  • Re: What's your opinion about learning styles?
    Lynne Hoffman Apprentice
    Currently Being Moderated

    Jane Brown shared these comments in another discussion on learning styles.


    So much is written about identifying learning styles, but does knowing your students' learning styles really help them learn or help you teach?


    Matching Teaching Style to Learning Style May Not Help Students by David Glenn (The Chronicle of Higher Education, December 15, 2009)


    Are some lessons just better suited to one teaching style over another? Do students learn because you match their learning style or because you excite them with the way you present the topic? Cite an example from your professional experience that supports your view

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