Learning Stlyes – A Summary

Again, wrapping up a second forum posting I wanted to share the key points and resources that came form this discussion group.

I really felt that I left this discussion feeling like I had many new perspectives and ideas about what learning styles are – do they exist or are they a myth?  I certainly see both sides to this “argument” and I take away a few key points – Maybe we don’t have learning styles, maybe each lesson is subject to be taught naturally in a certain style.  Perhaps as educators we need to look at our subject matter and think of outside the box ideas to create teaching methods that do not always land in the lessons “comfort zone”.

Like I mentioned, I am not one sided on this argument, I agree that they exist and that they don’t exist and that it is not as black and white as some professionals set it out to be.

As promised…here is the forum summary for the “Learning Styles” discussion forum 

1.       what learning styles are and how they are described.

Amber led this discussion and offered a quiz that classifies three styles; Auditory, Visual and Tactile. You can check out the quiz at: http://www.personal.psu.edu/bxb11/LSI/LSI.htm. Amber challenged us with the question “Why is important or beneficial for us as educators to understand our student’s learning styles and what kind of barriers do we face when dealing with a learning style diversity in our students?” She also guided us to the Duquesne University website to explore why it is important for educators to understand their students: http://www.duq.edu/about/centers-and-institutes/center-for-teaching-excellence/teaching-and-learning/understanding-your-students.

Lindsay contributed additional resources to this topic and provided the following resources for consideration:

Allcock, S., J., and Hulme, J., A. (2010) Learning styles in the classroom: Educational benefit or planning exercise?  Retrieved from: http://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/EJ920100.pdf

Another resource with well laid out comparisons is: http://www.tecweb.org/styles/gardner.html.

The topic was explored in more detail by other students who contributed valuable perspectives from their teaching and educational experiences.

 2.learning style related to profession to see if there were any ‘preferred’ learning styles associated with various professions. What we learned from these articles (see list below) was that several faculty favored their own personal learning style (Crawford, Alhreish, & Popovich, 2012), some students “preferred learning through sight and physical sensation” (McCrow, Yevchak, & Lewis, 2014), there could be a link between learning styles and critical thinking (Andreou, Papastavrou, & Merkouris, 2014), teaching styles might need to be modified to the cultural context (Manee, Nadar & Jahrami, 2013), time and technology may influence a student’s preferred learning format (Doyle & Jacobs, 2013), recommendations for educators to focus on innovative methods and adopt a learner centered approach (Rajeswari, 2010), and students often switch between learning styles (Landry, 2011). (Reference detail posted at end of blog).

 3.Cognitive styles versus learning styles. I started the discussion off with content from Merriam, Caffarella and Baumgartner’s (2007) book entitled Learning in Adulthood. The authors highlight the difference between the cognitive and learning concepts as being where the researchers place their emphasis:

  • Learning style researchers emphasize the learning situation, whereas
  • Cognitive style researchers focus more generally on how people perceive, organize and process information overall.

This topic generated a lot of discussion and our instructor jumped in to stir the pot, and offered the video https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=k39MUZn_ozo and article:

http://www.ukessays.com/essays/education/educational-theories-and-learning-styles-on-teaching-practice-education-essay.php to challenge our thinking.

Julie directed us to Kathy Kolbe’s work on the ‘conative connection’: http://kathyblog.kolbe.com/, which is certainly worth checking out.

Allen suggested we take a look at Taylor Hartman’s work: http://www.amazon.com/The-People-Code-Innate-Motive/dp/1416542302.

Marilyn reminded us of the Myers- Brigg Personality Inventory: http://www.myersbriggs.org/my-mbti-personality-type/mbti-basics/ but Rhonda cautioned that we “keep their ideas and opinions in perspective.” Brent also jumped into the discussion with the challenge “Do I really need a scientific study to prove that I don’t like reading when learning a new concept?”

 4.       Learning Styles: where is the evidence?

The discussion started with a Rohrer & Pashler (2012) argument that “style-based instruction” is lacking such evidence. Several classmates weighed in on this ‘hot’ topic with Rhonda offering a resource suggesting that there may be seven learning styles: Advanogy.com (2014).  Overview of Learning Styles.  Retrieved from http://www.learning-styles-online.com/overview/.

Then Lindsay challenged us to ‘’think about the multiple deliveries and standards we put in place as educators” and suggested we read Martin (2010). Barbara drew our attention back to Brookfield (2006) and said “We can only do our best to appeal to the student with respect and an awareness of individuality.”

 Nicolette offered the perspective that “people do learn differently, and to me, it’s obvious that different learning styles exist” and provided several resources to challenge our thinking:

  • The Myth of Learning Styles Infographic, Deconstructing the Myth of Learning Styles


  • Learning Styles Debunked: There is No Evidence Supporting Auditory and Visual Learning, Psychologists Say


  • Learning styles Re-Evaluated


 But I think that James summed it up nicely when he said: “I really can’t help feeling that all of this “learning styles” propaganda can really be best described as “presentation methods” instead.” And the icing on the cake in this debate was when our instructor, Doug, said, “I do agree that we all learn differently but the evidence does not support creating lesson plans that cater to learning styles….” Doug offered up several engaging resources including:

 Amber reminded us (as educators) that “it is important to look at the learning style of WHAT you are teaching and not always WHO you are teaching”.

Great discussion everyone.

Watch for this summary on my blog (sans names!)


Andreou, c., Papastavrou, e., & Merkouris, A. (2014). Learning styles and critical thinking relationship in baccalaureate nursing education: A systematic review. Nurse Education Today, 34, 362-371.

Barkley, E. F. (2010). Student engagement techniques: A handbook for College Faculty. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

Brookfield, S.D. (2006). The skillful teacher. San Francisco:  Jossey-Bass

Crawford, S. Y., Alhreish, S.K., & Popovich, N.G. (2012). Comparison of learning styles of pharmacy students and faculty members. American Journal of Pharmaceutical Education, 76(10), 1-6.

Doyle, N.W. & Jacobs, K. (2013). Accommodating student learning styles and preferences in an online occupational therapy course. Work, 44, 247-253. doi:10.3233/WOR-121501

Landry, J., M., (2011). Learning styles of law enforcement officers: Does police work affect how officers learn? Retrieved from:


Manee, F., Nadar, M., & Jahrami, H. (2013). Learning styles of allied health sciences students at Kuwait University. International Journal of Therapy and Rehabilitation, 20(5), 255-260.

Martin, S., (2010) Teachers using learning styles: Torn between research and accountability? Teaching and Teacher Education, 26(8), 1583–1591. Retrieved May 18, 2014 from:


McCrow, J., Yevchak, A., & Lewis, P. (2014). A prospective cohort study examining the preferred learning styles of acute care registered nurses. Nurse Education in Practice, 14, 170-175.

Merriam, S. B., Caffarella, R.S., & Baumgarterner, L.M. (2007). Learning in adulthood: A comprehensive guide (3rd ed.). San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

Rajeswari, S. (2010). The challenges of applying learning styles in nursing education. International  Journal of Nursing Education, 2(1), 32-33.

Rohrer, D. & Pashler, H. (2012). Learning styles: Where’s the evidence? Medical Education, 46, 634-635. doi: 10.111/j.1365-2923.2012.04273.x


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