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Visual, Auditory or Kinesthetic Learner?

16 July 2020
image of a brain

Researchers at the Cognitive Health Research Laboratory at Laurentian University in Ontario, Canada, authored an article discussing the concept that individuals have preferred learning styles -- commonly classified as visual, auditory, or kinesthetic. Surveys across 14 countries show that 90 percent of teachers share this belief, in spite of the fact that no study to date has been able to prove this hypothesis.

If it is unsupported by scientific study, why do so many people believe what the researchers term a "neuromyth"? The authors ascribe it to confirmation bias. Once someone has heard something described as a fact, they look for examples in their personal experience where it appears to be true. Upon finding such an example, they extrapolate it to their world-at-large. For example, a teacher might observe a student learning quickly from a diagram, and then see it as confimation that this child is a "visual" learner.

Confirmation bias is difficult to counter. The authors designed an activity for apprentice teachers, wherein the teachers saw for themselves that learning style made no difference in their own learning. Nonetheless, 60 percent of those teachers still intended to adapt their teaching to these neuromyth learning styles.

Bottom-line: Don't generalize. Just because a student appears to learn one thing more easily or quickly when presented in a certain style, don't assume that style defines the student's preferred learning style for all material.



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