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Learning Styles

Recent researchers (Claxton 2006; Coffield et al. 2004; Geake 2005; Hargreaves et al. 2005) have called into question educators' uses of learning styles theory, including visual, auditory and kinaesthetic (VAK) learning styles, as a basis for guiding and informing instructional practices. Their concerns include:

  • Highly variable or slender scientific research evidence for these styles, since the measures are of doubtful reliability and validity.
  • Lack of evidence that the application of learning styles within the classroom improves learning.
  • Some teachers believe that each student has a particular, innate learning style and attempt to provide students with materials to match that style. Students may then label themselves as this type of learner. Hargreaves et al. (2005) believe "this is poor professional practice that can damage a student's learning and development" (p. 11).

Adapted from David Hargreaves et al., About Learning: Report of the Learning Working Group (London, UK: Demos, 2005), p. 11.

Hargreaves et al. (2005) conclude that "the evidence base for learning styles is profoundly unsatisfactory and needs attention" (p. 12).