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  • Writer's pictureJoanne Jacobs

Learning styles: Still no evidence

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Learning styles remain popular, but there’s no evidence that teaching to different learning styles helps students learn more, writes Dan Willingham, a professor of cognitive psychology at University of Virginia, on American Educator.

Researchers have long known that people claim to have learning preferences—they’ll say, “I’m a visual learner” or “I like to think in words.” There’s increasing evidence that people act on those beliefs; if given the chance, the visualizer will think in pictures rather than words. But doing so confers no cognitive advantage.

“Students should be taught fruitful thinking strategies for specific types of problems,” he concludes. For example, “reflective thinking is much better than intuitive thinking for probability problems. Imagery is much better than verbalizing for sentence memory.” What works depends on what the student is trying to learn.

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