How useful is the idea of “learning styles”?

Smith, Chloe


Toppo, G. (2019, January 9). ‘Neuromyth’ or Helpful Model? Inside Higher Ed. Retrieved from:

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.



Lester, Debbie
University, H. (2016). 5 Lessons Dr. Carol Dweck Shared on the HPU Campus – High Point UniversityHigh Point University. Retrieved 19 December 2016, from
This article talks about Growth Mindset and 5 ideas behind Growth Mindset
  1. A growth mindset is empowering: having a fixed mindset is very limiting and does not allow for someone to improve themselves. 
  2. Learn what triggers your fixed mindset: even people with growth mindset haveset backsand feel like they can’t do something. 
  3. Value progress, not perfection: telling someone that they are smart isn’t the best way to encourage them. Tell someone that they worked hard to get something done is a much better way to encourage them. 
  4. Be willing to work hard: doing something worthwhile is not going to be easy. It takes a lot of hard work and fortitude to get what you want. 
  5. View failures or setbacks as learning opportunities: ask yourself, what can I learn from this. Mistakes are great learning opportunities.
This is a great article on the difference between a growth mindset and a fixed mindset and the importance of having a growth mindset.

Mindset and Library Instruction

Goodman, Jana


Folk, A. (2016) Academic reference and instruction librarians and Dweck’s theories of intelligence.  College & Research Libraries,77, 302-313.

Summary:  This article summarizes Carol Dweck’s important book Mindset. Mindest lays out the idea that our intelligence is not fixed, rather it is through hard work we can achieve success and goals.  But if our mind set is fixed and we believe intelligence is something we are born with, something we cannot change, then we will not be productive.  If we instead have a growth mindset, we see ourselves as a work in progress and believe in our ability to learn things, rather then thinking we should know them already, we can achieve success.  The author discusses the application of Dweck’s ideas to working with students at both the college and K-12 education level and how this could benefit our students.

Evaluation:  This article is a good starting place and it inspired me to pull out my copy of Dweck’s very influential book Mindset: The New Psychology of Success.  I plan to finally read it as this article inspired me, again, about its importance.  It is a way of thinking that is crucial to impart to our students and I realize valuable to apply to my own life and journey as a learner.