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Evidence-Based Higher Education – Is the Learning Styles ‘Myth’ Important? / Philip M. Newton, Mahallad Miah, Phil Newton

Frontiers in Psychology, Volume: 8

Swansea University Author: Phil Newton

Abstract

The basic idea behind the use of ‘Learning Styles’ is that learners can be categorized into one or more ‘styles’ (e.g., Visual, Auditory, Converger) and that teaching students according to their style will result in improved learning. This idea has been repeatedly tested and there is currently no ev...

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Published in: Frontiers in Psychology
ISSN: 1664-1078
Published: 2017
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URI: https://cronfa.swan.ac.uk/Record/cronfa32734
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spelling 2018-09-03T12:06:30.0436233 v2 32734 2017-03-28 Evidence-Based Higher Education – Is the Learning Styles ‘Myth’ Important? 6e0a363d04c407371184d82f7a5bddc8 0000-0002-5272-7979 Phil Newton Phil Newton true false 2017-03-28 PMSC The basic idea behind the use of ‘Learning Styles’ is that learners can be categorized into one or more ‘styles’ (e.g., Visual, Auditory, Converger) and that teaching students according to their style will result in improved learning. This idea has been repeatedly tested and there is currently no evidence to support it. Despite this, belief in the use of Learning Styles appears to be widespread amongst schoolteachers and persists in the research literature. This mismatch between evidence and practice has provoked controversy, and some have labeled Learning Styles a ‘myth.’ In this study, we used a survey of academics in UK Higher Education (n = 114) to try and go beyond the controversy by quantifying belief and, crucially, actual use of Learning Styles. We also attempted to understand how academics view the potential harms associated with the use of Learning Styles. We found that general belief in the use of Learning Styles was high (58%), but lower than in similar previous studies, continuing an overall downward trend in recent years. Critically the percentage of respondents who reported actually using Learning Styles (33%) was much lower than those who reported believing in their use. Far more reported using a number of techniques that are demonstrably evidence-based. Academics agreed with all the posited weaknesses and harms of Learning Styles theory, agreeing most strongly that the basic theory of Learning Styles is conceptually flawed. However, a substantial number of participants (32%) stated that they would continue to use Learning Styles despite being presented with the lack of an evidence base to support them, suggesting that ‘debunking’ Learning Styles may not be effective. We argue that the interests of all may be better served by promoting evidence-based approaches to Higher Education. Journal Article Frontiers in Psychology 8 1664-1078 Learning Styles, Higher Education, Evidence-based education, VARK, Kolb, neuromyth 27 3 2017 2017-03-27 10.3389/fpsyg.2017.00444 COLLEGE NANME Medicine COLLEGE CODE PMSC Swansea University 2018-09-03T12:06:30.0436233 2017-03-28T13:33:36.5773658 Swansea University Medical School Medicine Philip M. Newton 1 Mahallad Miah 2 Phil Newton 0000-0002-5272-7979 3 0032734-12042017100156.pdf fpsyg0800444.pdf 2017-04-12T10:01:56.2900000 Output 1739656 application/pdf Version of Record true 2017-03-27T00:00:00.0000000 CC-BY true eng
title Evidence-Based Higher Education – Is the Learning Styles ‘Myth’ Important?
spellingShingle Evidence-Based Higher Education – Is the Learning Styles ‘Myth’ Important?
Phil, Newton
title_short Evidence-Based Higher Education – Is the Learning Styles ‘Myth’ Important?
title_full Evidence-Based Higher Education – Is the Learning Styles ‘Myth’ Important?
title_fullStr Evidence-Based Higher Education – Is the Learning Styles ‘Myth’ Important?
title_full_unstemmed Evidence-Based Higher Education – Is the Learning Styles ‘Myth’ Important?
title_sort Evidence-Based Higher Education – Is the Learning Styles ‘Myth’ Important?
author_id_str_mv 6e0a363d04c407371184d82f7a5bddc8
author_id_fullname_str_mv 6e0a363d04c407371184d82f7a5bddc8_***_Phil, Newton
author Phil, Newton
author2 Philip M. Newton
Mahallad Miah
Phil Newton
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description The basic idea behind the use of ‘Learning Styles’ is that learners can be categorized into one or more ‘styles’ (e.g., Visual, Auditory, Converger) and that teaching students according to their style will result in improved learning. This idea has been repeatedly tested and there is currently no evidence to support it. Despite this, belief in the use of Learning Styles appears to be widespread amongst schoolteachers and persists in the research literature. This mismatch between evidence and practice has provoked controversy, and some have labeled Learning Styles a ‘myth.’ In this study, we used a survey of academics in UK Higher Education (n = 114) to try and go beyond the controversy by quantifying belief and, crucially, actual use of Learning Styles. We also attempted to understand how academics view the potential harms associated with the use of Learning Styles. We found that general belief in the use of Learning Styles was high (58%), but lower than in similar previous studies, continuing an overall downward trend in recent years. Critically the percentage of respondents who reported actually using Learning Styles (33%) was much lower than those who reported believing in their use. Far more reported using a number of techniques that are demonstrably evidence-based. Academics agreed with all the posited weaknesses and harms of Learning Styles theory, agreeing most strongly that the basic theory of Learning Styles is conceptually flawed. However, a substantial number of participants (32%) stated that they would continue to use Learning Styles despite being presented with the lack of an evidence base to support them, suggesting that ‘debunking’ Learning Styles may not be effective. We argue that the interests of all may be better served by promoting evidence-based approaches to Higher Education.
published_date 2017-03-27T03:45:01Z
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