Another big question re: learning styles

This question is an add-on to my last post: I no longer believe in learning styles. You? It might be a good idea to read that to put this in some kind of context :)


If we cater to individual preference in terms of how to receive input

aka match our teaching style to students’ preferred learning styles

how can we possibly properly develop the multiple intelligences that, according to Gardner, we all posses?

If all we have is a hammer all we will see are nails. What happens when we come across a screw?

If Johnny, the supposed visual learner, receives only visual input most of the time (as part of his formal learning, since his teacher will be matching how she teaches to his preference…), he will only be able to deal with what can be dealt with visually to any degree of depth.

Sounds pretty uni-dimensional to me.

ESPECIALLY when we know that for knowledge to enter long term memory it is most successful when dually encoded – visually and verbally! The more diverse the input we have, the better the learning.

I no longer believe in learning styles. You?

A few years ago I had a series of … conversations … with my then PhD adviser about the notion of learning styles. The conversations included a few of us candidates who were also elementary or high school teachers. He maintained, and would not budge, the stance that there was no evidence to prove the existence of learning styles or the value of learning about individual student learning styles in order to improve their learning in a classroom setting. We maintained that we had seen the value in our classrooms! What was this nonsense about learning style theories being wrong? How could I give up all of the work I had been doing around learning styles in my professional and academic life (a portion of my MA included examining learning style for work in organizational development)?

So now it’s a few years later and my coursework for this week falls under the theme of, you guessed it, learning styles. And guess what? My thoughts have changed on the subject. I realize that I have stopped testing for learning styles in my classroom. What I used to see as proof that the individual learning styles existed I now see as proof that learning happens when we have a variety of stimuli or input methods. I focus more on making sure there is a diversity of input – that the material I am presenting (if it is me presenting it) is being presented in a variety of manners. Rather than thinking of each students as having a dominant learning style, I think of how multiple forms of input help to solidify learning in everyone.

And then I did some research and found a number of documents on how learning styles can not be measured, that there is no proof of their existence. Of course, we do always find what we are looking for, don’t we? Regardless, the more I think of this, the more it makes sense.

Yes, it is possible to supply input (material, lessons, ideas, whatever) in different modalities – visually, kinesthetically, aurally, reflexively, actively, tactiley (according to that is a word, I’m not convinced), [add your -ly here] – and I would argue that this is a good thing BUT that the decision to do so is about good teaching and not about accessing the preferred learning styles of students.

It’s good teaching when we

Another thought, not so well thought out so give me some room here but if we think that learning is a social activity, why the emphasis on individual learning styles? Like I said, it’s not so well thought out yet so all I really have is the question as a starting point.


Here are some of those documents I wrote about earlier, in no particular order:

Do Learning Styles Exist? by Hugh Lafferty & Dr. Keith Burley

Matching Teaching Style to Learning Style May Not Help Students by David Glenn

New Research Shows Learning Styles Are Nonsense by Keiron Walsh

Learning Styles: Concepts and Evidence by Harold Pashler, Mark McDaniel, Doug Rohrer, and Robert Bjork (right sidebar has pdf download of full article, free)

Learning Styles Re-evaluated By Rick Nauert

Doubt about learning styles by Jay Matthews

Learning Styles: A Teacher Misunderstands A Paper, and A Psychological Scientist Explains by Liz Ditz

Idea of Learning Styles in Education Further Derided by Psychology Researchers by Mike Smith

Different Strokes for Different Folks? A Critique of Learning Styles (1999) By Steven A. Stahl (pdf)

Cite, I say, Cite! Student engagement & improved learning

I was asked to find some sources to support this statement I made:

Student engagement is primary. Of course it guarantees learning.

Here are a few. I’m hoping you can add some more :)

Engagement Theories

Strategies and how-to’s

And, really, I can go on. Some of you know how much I love to do research! But I’m hoping for you to help out here. What proof do you have that engagement improves learning? What do you base that proof on?


How do we not give zeros? Voicethread response.


I finally had a chance to check out my incoming links and discovered Miss Teacha’s post on how she creates a podcast. At the same time I am reviewing some voicethreads made by students (actually, trying to. Forgot the reminder about making the threads public so I’m kind of locked out of them for the moment! There goes my Sunday morning grading plan because I am sure NONE of my students are up at 8 am on a Sunday morning to make the changes needed for me to view them!) and it made me think that voicethread could be a neat alternative to podcasting.

This morning I learned that you could use your webcam to make a comment on a voicethread! Ms. McMullen-Dent’s class created a voicethread about Self-Control and it was the first time I saw some movie comments (have I been under a rock? or is this new?).

There are 60 some odd comments, mine is waaaaaaaaaaay at the end.

Getting to the point…

It got me to thinking that I could record a voicethread instead of a podcast for my blog and that commentary could come in many forms. Either as traditional blog comments or typed, audio, or webcam comments directly on the voicethread.

So. Let’s try it out. That very same Miss Teacha left a comment a little while ago on an older post of mine Why I Don’t Do Zeros. She asks difficult questions. Let’s try to address them together, shall we?


I warned you I’d be tagging you…Please invite others you think could add to the conversation.

Dr. Jan
Angela Stockman
Angela Maiers

Dr. Douglas Reeves on Toxic Grading Practices. Getting Things Done.

Voicethread image: Report Card by Divine Harvester on Flickr

Blogapalooza 2009

Blogapalooza - What I Learned From 2008 - A huge success! Image from Middle Zone Musings, click to view source.

Blogapalooza: A huge success! Click to view source

It’s a task, trying to trackback how I discovered something via social media. I follow a modest hundred or so people on twitter, have a few hundred friends on the book, and then there are the bloggers in my rss feed. But I am pretty darn sure I found out about Blogapalooza via @Linda704.

Like I needed to find MORE blogs to read! But what can I say, there are some pretty good finds here and I’m glad I participated.

So what is Blogapalooza? It’s Robert Hruzek‘s baby over at Middle Zone Musings.  This year, it’s a group writing project called What I Learned From 2008, and participants were asked to create a list of our favourite blog posts, ones from our own blogs, 1 per month of 2008.

Here’s my What I Learned post. And that list you see at the bottom of this post? It is a list of the 128 bloggers who participated in this year’s event, organized alphabetically by first name.

Aaron UnnaschLiving the Dash

Adam SicinskiIQ Matrix Blog

Alexander EstromDay 8 Debate

Alina PopescuWords of a Broken Mirror

Amber NaslundAltitude

Andy CottichioThe Narrow Road

Angie HaggstromFreedom Freelance

Anita Bruzzese45 Things

Arun RajagopalArun Rajagopal

Ashley WeisA Weis Writer

Barry Wallacewho am I?

Billy CoffeeWhat I Learned Today…

Brad ShorrWord Sell, Inc.

Brett DuncanMarketing In Progress

Carla WilliamsThe Spiritual Mom

Charlie BurlbawStress Management Tips

Chris BrownBranding & Marketing

Chris Dawsoncdawson


Chris GodfredsonExperiencing Grace and Peace


Christine SineGodSpace

Cindy StreamsCitystreams

Conrad HakeLeveraged Intelligence

Cynthia MorrisJourney Juju


Dan RoloffRamblin’ Dan

Daniel NeedlestoneE-Learning Experiences

Danny BrownDanny Brown

David BowlesWestward Sagas

David ZingerEmployee Engagement Zingers

Deanna GernertSoul Like a Spider

Deb BoykenPunctuality Rules

Dena DyerMother Inferior

Derrick SorlesBusiness Blogging Tips

Drew McLellanDrew’s Marketing Minute

Elissa BaxterSquibblog

Elizabeth HowardLetters From a Small State

Erica HaleThese Three Remain

Gavin HeatonServant of Chaos

Geoffrey PhilpGeoffrey Philp’s Blog Spot

George AngusTumblemoose Writing Productions

Gina ConroyPortrait of a Writer… Interrupted

Giovanna GarciaImperfect Action

GL HoffmanWhat Would Dad Say

Glenda Watson HyattI’ll Do It Myself Blog

Heidi PlumleyMoms, Ministry and More

J.D. MeierSources of Insight

Jacob ShareGroup Writing Projects

Jacob ShareJobMob

Janet KaderliPreach It Sister!

Jean BrowmanTransforming Stress and Cheerful Monk

Jeanne DininniWriter’s Notes

Jennifer LeeGetting Down With Jesus

Jennifer Linkous12 Steps Closer

Jennifer TidwellDust Bunny Hostage

Jesse & Sarah LopezGod Is Not Finished With Us Yet

Joanna YoungConfident Writing

JohnJohn is Fit

John KoetsierSparkPlug

Julie DonahueMom Two Ways

Julie RichardsonBloom Blog

Karen HanrahanBest of Mother Earth

Karen SwimWords For Hire

Karin H.kiss 2

Kay MartinThrive Christians

Ken LeonardA True Believer’s Blog

Kevin LamImpacta Blog

Kevin MartineauShooting the Breeze

Kevin TracyKevin Tracy

Kimberlee FerrellFreedom Writing

LanceThe Jungle of Life

Lelsie DoyleScripted Notions

Lillie AmmannA Writer’s Words, an Editor’s Eye

Linda ClintonLiteracy, Learning and Sharing

Lore FergusonUnskewed

Lori PoppingaThoughts From the Tub and Life, Love and Laughter in a Large Family

LorrieGrow Up Deep

Lucille ZimmermanRumors of Glory

Lucy NixonCorporate Eye

Luke GedeonLuke Gedeon

Lyla LindquistA Different Story

Marcus GoodyearGoodWord Editing

Maria HendersonSpiritual Birdwatching

Mark DykemanBroadcasting Brain

Marty GordonThe Renzntzman

Mary DeMuthRelevant Blog

Mary Ellen MerriganProfitMeister

Melissa DonovanWriting Forward

Merry MaryA Merry Life


Michael SnellLife by Design

Michelle VandepasDivinePurposeUnleashed

Mike ShieldsThe Rant, Who Is The Watchmaker and Poker Riot!

Nancy BabyakWork Life Balance Blog and PMO Training Wheels Blog

Nancy KourmoulisTreasures of Darkness

Nichelle StrzepekDance Advantage

Nick GrimshaweBeautiful Summer Morning

Paul MerrillMy Part of Colorado

Peter PollockRediscovering the Church

Phil GerbyshakMake It Great Guy

Phil GerbyshakSlacker Manager

Red Letter BelieversRed Letter Believers

Reeta PindoriaParadox of Reality: Better Thinking, Better Success

Rich BordnerThe Pugnacious Irishman

Richie LawryAn Arkies Musings

Rick MahnRick Mahn

Robert HenruReason 4 Smile

Robert HruzekMiddle Zone Musings

RonnicaIgnorant Historian

Sara HutchinsonUnblocked

Scott RocheSpiritual Tramp

Sheila GlazovSheila Glazov

Shelley KrauseBut Wait, There’s More!

Steve WoodruffSticky Figure, Steve’s Leaves, Impactiviti and MarketingProfs Daily Fix

Steven NorrisThy Grace is Sufficient

Tabetha GedeonDenim & Silk

Terry StarbuckerRamblings from a Glass Half Full

Thomas TurnerEveryday Liturgy

TillermanProper Course

Tina HowardSpaghettipie

Tony CradicTony C Today

Tracy RosenLeading From the Heart

Travis StephensYour Everyday Christian

Ulla HennigUlla Hennig’s Weblog

Vanessa RogersVanessa Rogers

Vicky HenniganRemarkable Parents

William TullyLOGICal eMOTIONs