Tuesday, January 17, 2006
All styles no substance
I always wince when I hear people warble on about Learning Styles. Roger Schank thinks educationalists are simply confusing personality with the flaky, faddish idea of ‘learning styles’. Frank Coffield proved him right. Through Learning and Skills Development Agency research, he found a ‘bedlam of contradictory claims’ with a ‘proliferation of concepts, instruments and strategies’. In total they uncovered 71 competing theories. All were found ‘seriously wanting’ with ‘serious deficiencies’. Many were downright dangerous as they ‘over-simplify, label and stereotype’. But when did serious research ever affect the behaviour of the education and training world?
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Even if learning styles exist there's almost nothing a trainer can do practically to accommodate them all. Life's simply too short to provide alternative strategies/materials to suit different preferences.
Another damaging use of learning styles is to argue why certain types of people shouldn't be asked to do e-learning, particularly if they are categorised as an 'activist' or 'pragmatist'. Apparently these people believe e-learning's just for theorists/reflectors - didn't anyone tell them about games and simulations?
It seems that some people interpret a 'diagnosis' of pragmatist/activist as borderline ADHD...
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