ERIC Number: EJ1182080
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2018
Ask the Cognitive Scientist: Does Tailoring Instruction to "Learning Styles" Help Students Learn?
Willingham, Daniel T.
American Educator, v42 n2 p28-32, 43 Sum 2018
In this regular "American Educator" column, findings from the field of cognitive science that are strong and clear enough to merit classroom application are considered. Research over the last 10 years measuring whether participants learn better when new content fits their purported learning style shows little to no support for style distinctions. However, there is emerging evidence that people have a propensity to engage in one style of processing over others and that the type of mental processing people use often has a substantial effect on task success. According to the research, people can control the type of processing they use, and there is no evidence that overruling their processing bias incurs a cost to thinking. This research suggests that educators need not worry about their students' learning styles and that students should be taught fruitful thinking strategies for specific types of problems. Students can be taught useful strategies for committing things to memory, reading with comprehension, overcoming math anxiety, or avoiding distraction, for example, and their learning styles will not influence these strategies.
Descriptors: Cognitive Style, Teaching Methods, Thinking Skills, Cognitive Science, Cognitive Processes
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Evaluative
Education Level: N/A
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