Most people have accepted the assertion that each student has a distinct “learning style” as fact in the educational sector. If one does a little digging, they will find that there are over 70 different styles of learning and teaching style schemes that attempt to classify students according to how they learn best. The notion of learning styles has become so widely accepted that educators are actively urged to recognize each student’s learning style. Teachers also often evolve their teaching style, lesson plans, and homework assignments to help each student achieve maximum comprehension.
To Begin, what exactly are Learning Styles?
Almost all educators would be familiar with the concept that everyone has a preferred method of absorbing knowledge. Students will learn more easily if an educator teaches them in their chosen style. This concept has been around since the 1970s and well-intentioned teachers and dedicated students who want to learn effectively still carry it forward. It is no wonder that everyone wants to learn faster and more efficiently.
Unfortunately, there is no convincing proof that there are different learning styles.
In truth, the best evidence points in the opposite direction. The notion that people perform best when trained in a way that corresponds to their unique “learning style” — Auditory, Kinesthetic, Visual, or a combination of the three — is generally dismissed. According to multiple studies, learners do not profit from their own learning style. Teachers and students have different ideas about what learning styles work best for them, and we have no insight into how much we learn from various approaches.
The Myth of Learning Styles
Every student will differ in terms of skill, interest, and prior experience, but not in terms of learning styles. According to research, when people have a favorite style of presentation, it is typically for a task or topic in which they have a high level of talent and already feel good.
One may think they are an Auditory learner if they are good at music, or a Visual learner if they are creative. While one can prefer a certain method of learning, there is no proof that it can help them learn more effectively.
The myth of learning styles appears to be as widespread as ever. The learning styles paradigm can also be harmful to education in a variety of ways, according to various previous studies. Even though all students will profit from learning by multiple methods, educators expend time and money tailoring lessons to specific learning styles for different students. Even if it will not help them excel, students study in ways that correspond to their perceived learning style.
However, it is not obvious why educators want to believe in them. It is possible that the theory is heavily reinforced during teacher training; it is also possible that teachers are dealing with their students in the same way that their teachers interacted with them. Alternatively, it is possible that efforts to dispel the theory have become close to zero, struggling to reach educators.
Best Teaching Practices to Suit Various Learning Styles
Educators are well aware that no two students are alike, and that there is a wide range of learning styles. As a result, an educator’s teaching style may have a significant effect on a student’s ability to understand and comprehend. This is why teachers must be familiar with a variety of learning styles.
Is Shawn’s preferred method of learning pictures and graphics? It is possible that he is a Visual learner.
Is it true that Kevin learns best by attending seminars, asking questions, and engaging in group discussions? He may be an Auditory learner.
Is it more convenient for Jack and Katie to collect knowledge by reading, taking notes, and writing reports or essays? They may be Reading/Writing learners.
What about Joel, for instance? She is very hands-on and seems to love disassembling and reassembling items in order to learn by doing. It is possible she is a Kinesthetic learner.
That is one common breakdown of the learning styles continuum, but it is by no means the only one. Most teaching types fall into one of two categories: Teacher-Centered or Student-Centered. Here is a breakdown of the differences between teacher-centered and student-centered instruction:
• Teacher-Centered Approach:
The Teacher-Centered approach to education is a teaching style that views the teacher as the authority in charge of imparting information to students through lectures or direct instruction. Students are passive actors or “empty vessels” in this approach (also known as “sage on the stage”). They listen and absorb information.
This Teacher-Centered approach to teaching is the most common, but it is not always the strongest. And, as educators learn more about how to involve students of all learning styles, the teacher-centered approach is becoming less common.
• Student-Centered Approach:
The Student-Centered approach is a teaching style that fosters greater harmony between the instructor and the student by allowing both to participate in the learning process. The instructor is often referred to as the “guide on the side” in this strategy.
While the teacher retains authority, he or she is more likely to serve as a facilitator, coaching and assisting students in their studies. This method promotes student autonomy while also allowing students to engage with one another. Under the student-centered approach to teaching, there are a few styles to consider:
• Approach Based on Inquisitiveness
Students lead the way and receive instruction from their teachers in this Student-Centered learning style. Moreover, this approach promotes flexibility, autonomy, and hands-on learning.
• Approach Based on Co-operation
Cooperative learning is a Student-Centered method of instruction that emphasizes group work and social development. The cooperative model, like the inquiry-based style, promotes individuality and hands-on learning, but places a premium on peer-to-peer collaboration and culture.
Many teaching resources categorize the best teaching styles into the five key categories mentioned below:
1) Authoritative or Lecturer Style
The Authoritative teaching style is based on the conventional Teacher-Centered approach. This includes lecture sessions and one-way presentations. Students are expected to pay attention, process information, take down notes, and ask questions in this approach (also known as the “chalk and chat” style).
2) Coach or Demonstrator Style
The Demonstrator style, which is common in math, science, and music, emphasizes “showing” rather than “telling,” with teachers more likely to back up their points with examples, tests, demos, or multimedia presentations.
3) Activity Style or Facilitator
The facilitator/teacher is focused on encouraging students to learn for themselves and assisting them in developing critical thinking and learning skills. It is a Student-Centered approach that entails designing learning plans. It includes classes that enable students to explore and discover course material in unique and innovative ways.
4) Group or Delegator Style
The Delegator style of teaching is well-suited for curricula that include or emphasize group activities, as it places much of the responsibility for learning on the students, who are motivated to collaborate on projects related to the lesson themes (think science labs, debates, etc.). The instructor is an involved spectator in this style, guiding students in the right direction.
5) Blended or Hybrid Style
The Hybrid approach combines elements of the above-mentioned models, often blending the teacher’s personality and interests with the students’. While this method is considered inclusive because it allows teachers to adapt their teaching styles to the needs of their students within the subject matter, some educators claim it risks diluting the learning process by putting less emphasis on in-depth research than a single, concentrated approach.
The aim of the discourse above is not to categorize the organic practice of classroom teaching into tidy categories. We do not wish to label educators as one “type” of teacher or another, but rather to investigate various methodologies in order to improve our collective understanding of the teaching experience.
It all comes down to getting to know the students and using the respective skills and intuition to figure out the best ways to involve individual students and whole classes with the curriculum. What works for one student or community may or may not work for another.
That is why, in order to be the most successful instructor possible, educators must have a clear understanding of the various student learning styles. They must have a solid grasp of the various teaching styles and strategies available.