Are Learning Styles Real?

When I was learning to be an instructor, I was taught two key points that I was told to ensure all of lessons plans addressed.  One was the Learning Pyramid and the other was learning styles; it was stressed that to be a good instructor, these needed to be in every lesson.

The Learning Pyramid is a theory that people learn only a small part of a lecture, learn 10% from reading, learn 20% from audio/visual, and so one till you get to the base of the pyramid that says we learn much more by ‘doing’.

If you’ve heard of that theory, I hope you’ve also heard that it’s false.  There are a number of articles out there that show it’s not true, including some that show the supposed source never put out the stats that the pyramid claims:

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/answer-sheet/wp/2013/03/06/why-the-learning-pyramid-is-wrong/?utm_term=.c1f9a1dd7d90

https://acrlog.org/2014/01/13/tales-of-the-undead-learning-theories-the-learning-pyramid/comment-page-1/

I quickly picked that up and have dropped it from my materials and teaching plans.  Now it seems the other ‘must do’ I was taught is also false; teaching styles are myth says a lot of research, and yet it persists:

https://www.insidehighered.com/news/2019/01/09/learning-styles-debate-its-instructors-vs-psychologists?utm_source=Academica+Top+Ten&utm_campaign=d835e28cab-EMAIL_CAMPAIGN_2019_01_09_05_51&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_b4928536cf-d835e28cab-51944493

Rather than try to cater to every learners’ style, it’s more important to be clear and gain understanding by teaching material in a variety of ways. The type of material and understanding being sought will play a larger role than ‘learner style’ – teaching someone to do something (like play soccer) needs tactile / hands on work, while teaching someone to be able to define concepts will lean more to discussion or lecture.

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