Saturday, June 16, 2018

University faculty believe in Learning Styles and promote it to students while their Teacher Training departments say it's a myth

In a 2017 study by Newton and Miah, from the University of Swansea, Evidence-Based Higher Education – Is the Learning Styles ‘Myth’, 58% believed Learning Styles to be beneficial. Only 33% actually used Learning Styles but remarkably, they report that 32% faculty continued to believe in their use, even after being presented with the evidence that shows it doesn’t work. In the US a study by Dandy and Bendersky (2014) showed that 64% of faculty believed in the efficacy of learning styles.
This is far less than the reported figures from schoolteachers, where Dekker (2012) reported that 93% believed that learning styles caused better learning. Simmonds (2014) reported that 76% of teachers used Learning Styles. What is notable is that the very Universities that have Education Departments that train teachers, who would eschew such theory, still have it as a basic belief in the majority of their teaching staff.
This is understandable, as University teachers get rather cursory teacher training. What is odd is the complete lack of consistency within Higher Education, where they have the expertise to do scotch the myth and where the teaching is clearly at odds with the research and theory that is taught.
What is even more remarkable is that many universities openly and actively promote Learning Styles on their main websites to their students. Surely a simple search would expose this to the education departments who could insist on it being removed? It's a bit like the physics department teaching the Copernican model while other faculty insist that the Sun goes around the Earth.

Here are just a few, after a cursory search. I literally could have added dozens more:
Open University
Trinity College Dublin
University of Southampton
Birbeck University of London
Manchester Metropolitan University
University of Leicester
University of Sheffield
University of Brighton
University of Edinburgh
Cambridge Assessment English (part of Cambridge University) actually teach it on their Futurelearn MOOC.
It would seem that the Learning Styles myth is sustained in many ways but its roots are in education institutions, schools and Universities, that continue to peddle the theory to their students. What is odd is the lack of action around eliminating the phenomenon.
Dandy, K., and Bendersky, K. (2014). Student and faculty beliefs about learning in higher education: implications for teaching. Int. J. Teach. Learn. High. Educ. 26, 358–380.
Dekker, S., Lee, N. C., Howard-Jones, P., and Jolles, J. (2012). Neuromyths in education: prevalence and predictors of misconceptions among teachers. Front. Psychol. 3:429. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2012.00429
Newton, P.M., Miah, M.Evidence-Based Higher Education – Is the Learning Styles ‘Myth’ Important? Front. Psychol., 27 March 2017
Simmonds, A. (2014). How Neuroscience Is Affecting Education: Report of Teacher and Parent Surveys. 

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