Learning styles refers to both a theory of how people learn and a group of models for designing instruction and conceptualizing behaviors and actions of others and of ourselves. This page is not meant to be an exhaustive review of learning styles, but an introduction to the concept through resources and points to consider. It is hoped you will begin to consider styles in your instruction in terms of how objectives, activities, materials, and assessments are influenced by learning styles. One eLearning professional had this to say about Learning Styles:
The American classroom traditionally has been geared toward those who learn well by listening to instruction provided by an authoritarian figure in a structured, sit-down-and-learn situation. It favors left-brain, verbal, logical modes of thinking and down-plays more creative, intuitive, right-brain thinking – and this is reflected in curriculum, instruction, and assessment. Learners who “fit the system” are rewarded while learners who prefer other kinds of learning are neglected and even punished. Think of the little boy who bounces around the classroom trying out various hands-on explorations until finally he’s made to sit by himself in a “time-out.” Although he may be just as smart in his own creative way as his more structured peers, he’s the one more likely to fail in school. Understanding learning styles can help teachers meet the needs of such diverse learners rather than just one type of learner, since a knowledge of these styles also can lead to an understanding of why some students struggle with certain activities in your classes — and provide insight on what to do about it. (Kathy Miles, 2007)
Addressing multiple styles in your instruction is strongly encouraged. However, as Felder and Brent (2005) remind us, this is generally a process that cannot be done perfectly. “If it is pointless to consider tailoring instruction to each individual student, it is equally misguided to imagine that a single one-size-fits-all approach to teaching can meet the needs of every student” (Felder & Brent, 2005, p. 57). There is no perfection in implementing learning styles… only a balanced effort grounded in understanding.
Where can I learn more?
Below are just a few resources available online for learning about learning styles. Using any major search engine you can find a lot more!
Advanogy (2007). Overview of learning styles. Available from http://www.learning-styles-online.com/overview/
Businessballs (2007) Kolb learning styles. Available from http://www.businessballs.com/kolblearningstyles.htm
Clark, D. (2000). Learning styles and preferences. Available from http://www.nwlink.com/~donclark/hrd/styles.html
Felder, R. M., & Brent, R. (2005). Understanding student differences. Journal of Engineering Education, 94(1), 57-72. Available from http://www4.ncsu.edu/unity/lockers/users/f/felder/public/Papers/Understanding_Differences.pdf
Felder, R. M., & Solomon, B. A. (n.d.). Learning styles and strategies. Available from http://www4.ncsu.edu/unity/lockers/users/f/felder/public/ILSdir/styles.htm