I have always been suspicious of the whole “learning style” thing. You know, you’re supposed to match the style of teaching to the “learning style’ of the student. Here’s a typical quote:

Tactile/Kinesthetic persons learn best through a hands-on approach, actively exploring the physical world around them. They may find it hard to sit still for long periods and may become distracted by their need for activity and exploration.

Uh huh. Welcome to middle school, pal. They all wiggle, waggle, squirm, sway, pace, jog, skip, squat, flap, slap, tap, dance, and shake. They all have a need for the “exploration” of the desk next door or pencil sharpener across the room. You try to match your teaching style to that, and you are “done fer” as Huck might say.

Anyway, I was just reading a great article in the NYTimes, about how much of the conventional wisdom about “study skills” and “learning styles” isn’t really wisdom at all.

They quoted  researchers who looked at much of the literature about the learning styles fad, who said, “The contrast between the enormous popularity of the learning-styles approach within education and the lack of credible evidence for its utility is, in our opinion, striking and disturbing.”

They said there were very few studies even conducted to test the theory, and those that were conducted showed no improvement in learning.

I knew it!

The link to the research abstract is here.

Most of the Times article talks about how much of what people think about how to study is wrong. Having a couple different places to study, and alternating them, rather than your cliched single quiet place, works much better. Also studying several different, but related things, is better than concentrating on a single subject.

And in another vindication for the way I like to teach, the article said that a period of study followed by practice/pretests is more effective than two periods of study. The act of trying to retrieve the information somehow helps us retain it.


There’s more, and you should read it yourself.

Forget What You Know About Good Study Habits

(The quote about kinesthetic learners is from LDPride.net.)