Are Learning Styles Useful?

Every teacher already knows that each student learn differently from his or her peers. In the last couple of decades a theory emerged that a few key learning styles could explain and define some of those differences in how children learn. We even published this infographic here a couple of years ago that explored the idea:

The seven learning styles described are based on Howard Gardner’s idea of multiple intelligences. In defense of his work, Gardner himself emphasizes that what he described in his original work weren’t learning styles, but rather different facets of how each mind works. Nonetheless, his ideas have gone on to inspire discussions, infographics, teaching theories and quizzes all based around trying to pin down a clearer understanding of the different ways people learn.
How Not to Use Learning Styles
“Learning styles” has become a controversial term due to the fear that it can lead to harmful or reductive ways of thinking about how we approach teaching and learning. In the worst case scenario, students would be identified as one “type” of learner, and never exposed to other modalities. Most of the risks associated with pigeonholing learners can be easily avoided.
Don’t Let Them Limit Your Idea of an Individu
Very few people would look at an infographic like the one above and decide that every student fits neatly into one of the learning styles. Each student displays a mix of these learning styles, but most show greater strengths in some of them …