How useful is the idea of “learning styles”?

Smith, Chloe

ET

Toppo, G. (2019, January 9). ‘Neuromyth’ or Helpful Model? Inside Higher Ed. Retrieved from: https://www.insidehighered.com/news/2019/01/09/learning-styles-debate-its-instructors-vs-psychologists

This article describes the divide between advocates and critics of the idea that different individuals have different “learning styles,” while pointing out that the theory, while popular with many educators, has been largely debunked by scientists. Toppo points out that the idea is not supported by current psychologists and educational researchers. He quotes Scott Barry Kaufman’s argument that belief in learning styles can actually be a “harmful myth,” since it encourages students to have fixed mindsets about what and how they can learn. On the other side, educators who support the idea of learning styles say it’s about encouraging students identify their preferences, not their inherent abilities. Toppo concludes by pointing out that, while the idea of learning styles is a limited and inaccurate paradigm, the larger context is that different ways of learning are appropriate to different tasks. The important thing is to individualize instruction and present information is multiple ways.

I found this article to be a clear overview of current thinking on the topic of learning styles. It is geared towards educators at the college level, but the ideas are relevant to teaching and learning in a wide array of venues.

On Being in Libraries

Lepine, Sierra

ID

Miller, K. (2018). “On Being in Libraries.” Educause Review. Retrieved from https://er.educause.edu/articles/2018/8/on-being-in-libraries

Fascinating article talking about conducting renovation and rebuilding of physical library space with student inquiry in mind. Written by academic librarian at the University of Miami, discussing a recent project involving University library/librarians, University faculty, students, and educational community members in a conversation about modern student needs and desires regarding both physical library space and intellectual/research processes. Ultimately came up with plans for a Learning Commons area in the library, newly built and designed to cater specifically to 21st century students needs in regards to individualized learning, creative inquiry, learning by doing, community-based knowledge building, etc.

 

Not only did I appreciate the discussion about how design thinking and inquiry can be used in terms of lesson planning and teaching, but also in terms of how to actually design a physical space! I also liked that article ended with an acknowledgement that now students request more quiet space in library, and a rueful acceptance that, while community learning is in vogue, it is still library’s responsibility to provide quiet and contemplative learning spaces for students, too!

Blended Instructional Practice: a review of literature.

Johnston, Jeff

ET-Blended learning

Brown, M. m. (2016). Blended instructional practice: A review of the empirical literature on instructors’ adoption and use of online tools in face-to-face teaching. Internet & Higher Education311-10.

Summary:  Blended learning has been discussed and researched by academia, but the primary focus has been student-centered.  Most students enrolled in degree programs have experienced some form of blended learning practices.  What has not been researched as greatly is the impact that blended learning shifts have on pedagogy, institutional practices, student and faculty behaviors, institutional infrastructure and more.  This article reviews existing literature to identify influences on blended learning in higher education.  

Analysis/Opinion:  Rather dry empircal review of existing research regarding blended learning practices.  I found it interesting that most of the research has been driven by examining the student role, receptivity, and success in blended learning classrooms.  Very little research exists about the instructor role, particularly in higher education, and what internal and external influences exists.  The tables at the end of the article are useful in that they define the four external and two internal influences on collegiate and university instructors utilizing blended instructional practices (BIP), and point to further research which both supports, is neutral toward, and is opposed to these influences.