LearniNg Styles: An Educational Myth
Of the educational myths linked to in the Unit 2 agenda, I found the myth about learning styles the most surprising. In many of my teaching classes, I was presented articles about how students have different learning styles and they learn best in different ways. In all of these classes, I took part in some sort of activity in which I was encouraged to try to figure out what type of learner I am and describe what type of activities helped me learn the most in the past. When I was designing lessons for these classes, I was also expected to create a lesson that would “engage many different learning styles” so that my lesson was one that all students would really learn from. Before reading the article about how learning styles are an educational myth, I never once questioned the validity of the supposed research supporting the theory of different learning styles, and I never thought to look for research about it on my own.
Reading the articles about educational myths really opened my eyes to the value of being a critical learner. As a future educator, it is my responsibility to create the best environment for learning for my students, and a huge part of that is thinking about my own philosophies on education and reflecting on which of those philosophies are supported by actual research. I want to be the best teacher that I can be for my students, so it is my professional responsibility to make sure I am reading up on the most current educational research and instilling practices in my classroom that will ultimately benefit students.
If I encounter a critic in the future, the best way that I could convince them that learning styles are a myth is to explain to them that the most current research suggests that students do not have specific learning styles in which they “learn the best.” I would explain that I see the value in allowing students to learn from different representations, because students can gain a deeper knowledge of a concept if they are exposed to different representations. For example, an article about snakes can tell students the information they need to know about the reptile, but a picture of the snake in its habitat can give a student more information, and a chart about the different species of snakes around the world can give students even more information. Students need to know how to collect information from many different representations because being exposed to multiple representations and using the combined information from all of the representations can help students learn more than if they were just exposed to a single representation.