In the third and final part of this series we look at another misconception: That learning styles lead to better performance.
The link to improved performance is another popular concept surround the learning styles trend. The reason for this popularity is very simple; customisability. The idea that courses and curriculums can be molded to match the individual needs of learners is one that garners serious attention. Parents, organisations, and pupils like the idea that their training is tailored to their specific preferences and strengths. The opposite is also true; it is easier to blame a lack of comprehension and poor performance on the training style not matching your individual style rather than you being a low-achiever. But is this a meaningful idea that is supported by scientific evidence?
In actuality, this is an out-and-out myth. There is an abundance of evidence that shows no link between learning styles and performance. Where relationships have emerged, the predictive power has been weak at best.
The explanation for this is clear. When learning guitar, there are several modes of learning that facilitate your learning and help you perform well. You can pick up the guitar and practise; you can listen to your efforts and examples of how it should be done; you can read about different techniques and styles; or you can watch videos of other people playing. However, it is impossible to be a great guitar player by only focusing on one of these. The same is true of all forms of performance; a combination of approaches is needed.
However, the misconception exists in writing off learning styles entirely because of this myth. Tailoring to the individual learning styles of your students will not help improve their performance. What will help is using these styles to identify processing weaknesses in your leaners. Effective trainers use learning styles to design material that confronts, compensates, and corrects their learners’ shortcomings, not avoid them. By using learning styles in this way makes them meaningful, resulting in trainers improving the impact of their material and the performance of their students.
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