Learning styles – where’s the science?

by Viv on August 27, 2008

Over many years of running Train the Trainer courses and coaching facilitators, I’ve spent time talking about learning styles e.g. Honey & Mumford and occasionally Visual, Auditory & Kinasethetic. Whilst I feel like participants have got great learning value from them, I’ve had a growing sense of unease about the robustness of their scientific basis and how much you could validly infer from them. The ELN website highlighted a clip on YouTube which I think that anyone running a Train the Trainer course should watch.

Whatever side of this scientific debate you support, I think that discussing learning styles does make two important practical points for a budding facilitator:

  1. Not everyone learns the same way that you did, so you primarily need to think about what will work best for your participants not yourself.
  2. You need to work to gain and maintain learners’ attentions. Avoiding being trapped in one style will enable you to achieve greater variety and hence better learning outcomes.

Apart from a moment of confusing Chad with Algeria, here’s Professor Willingham’s excellent clip. Let me know what you thought about it.

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