This is the final part of my Learning Style blog. It is my intention to help us all understand the differences in how people learn and how we can lean into their individual proclivities regarding how we can help them best learn.
Have you ever heard someone say, “consider the source” when talking about a piece of information? Sometimes it’s sarcastic in tone, but sometimes it is sound advice. I was an Education and English professor at the University of Pittsburgh for 11 years, and I drilled it into my students’ minds that when they wrote their research papers, they must consider the source at all times. Sources that are from 20 years ago, sources that aren’t peer reviewed, or sources that are from sites that do not have a strong reference page are sources we consider to be suspect at best. When researching the importance of learning styles, an article came to my attention that stated learning styles were a myth and educators should not spend time discussing them (Pashler, McDaniel, Rohrer, & Bjork, 2008). I included the reference citation below, but I will save you the time and trouble reading it. It’s bunk.
I would kindly inform the above authors that there is another saying: “the proof is in the pudding.” I have worked with students for 35 years, and I can assure you that the concept of learning styles is not a myth and educators worth their salt must pay attention to how students learn if they want to help them succeed. UMass at Dartmouth (2022) published a paper on accommodating students with different learning styles. The authors told us what we already know, but it is worth revisiting: visual learners learn best with flash cards or drawings and pictures. Auditory learners learn a large amount of information when you put it to a song or a jingle. And kinesthetic learners like to act out the information or watch it done and then want you to get out of the way so they can do it themselves.
So, we believe that there is such a concept of learning styles. We believe that God made us all different (yet, all in His image). The objective of this three-part blog has been to introduce you to the differences in the three noted styles. This third part, however, has one objective that I want to unpack for just a minute.
I made a point earlier that the age of the research is important. And, it is. However, there are some things that don’t change over time. We know that math remains constant (four times four will always be 16, for example). In that vein, there is one concept that will remain constant, no matter how long ago a good research article promulgated it.
Think about it: we teach our children “stranger danger,” good manners, respect for others…etc. But, somehow we think that they will just innately know how they best learn and how to be able to speak up for themselves in the classroom. Koriat (1993) reminded us (29 years ago!) why we must teach our children to be their biggest advocates in the classroom. “The ability to monitor their own thinking can help students identify what they do and do not know, but people are often unable to accurately judge their own learning and understanding” (p. 609).
Greater Things agrees with Koriat’s timeless research, and, heading into our fourth week, we are hitting the floor running with our efforts to help our students recognize and advocate for their particular learning style. This week, I will send home to our families an excellent article about reading logs and the efficacy (or lack thereof) of logging in minutes read with no accountability toward comprehension. The visual learners will excel just logging in minutes (which is always 20, by the way. Somehow, 20 is a magic number to us. LOL). But, the auditory and kinesthetic learners will never improve with that method. So, what do parents do? Hold on tight… so much more to give you! The research is out there. The researchers are showing us the way. We must stay hungry for what God has for us, as we lead and nurture these precious children.
Koriat, A. (1993). How do we know that we know? The accessibility model of the feeling of knowing. Psychological Review, 100(4), 609-639.
Pashler, H., McDaniel, M., Rohrer, D., & Bjork, R. (2008). Learning styles: Concepts and evidence. Psychological Science in the Public Interest, 9(3), 105- 119.
UMass/Dartmouth (2022) How to accommodate different learning styles. Umassd.edu