In spite of the widespread application and acceptance of the learning styles theory, there is nonetheless still inevitable debate regarding the scientific validity of the models (Pritchard, 2013). Primarily, the proponents of the learning styles view that using classroom-teaching techniques to suit the learner’s preferred methods of learning improves the process of education. On the other hand, the opponents of the learning styles concepts maintain that there exists little experimental evidence to help back up this proposition. Therefore, there the central question that comes in is that, does the learning styles theory scientifically valid? This paper explores the current research as well as existing pieces of literature to come up with a definitive conclusion about this question at hand.
In the recent years, there has been a hot debate regarding the application of learning styles. Many people have struggled to know whether the scientific research conforms to the occurrence of various styles of learning or even the hypothesis that has been suggested that individuals learn best when instructed in a manner that matches their preferred styles.
Unfortunately, the theories of learning styles are not scientifically valid. According to the major report about theories of learning styles published in the journal of Psychological Science, it concluded that sufficient assessment of the hypothesis about learning styles need to a given type of study (Pashler et al., 2009). Furthermore, (Pashler et al., 2009) reports stated that learners having been seen as “auditory learners” or “visual learners,” must then the randomly allotted to the teaching groups emphasizing on both auditory or visual learning methods such that individual students get matched to their unique styles while other get mismatched. The learner’s test scores after the end of the empirical study shall depict whether the matched students have attained better score than the unmatched learners in an attempt to verify the hypothesis regarding various theories of learning styles. However, up to date, no such comprehensive study has been conducted, and the supportive evidence on the theories of learning is widely anecdotal. Almost every study that purports to give substantive evidence for the theories of styles of learning fails to placate basic procedure for the scientific validity.
Many learning styles theories have been documented in pieces of literature. For example, Walter Barbe, as well as his colleagues, suggested three aspects of learning modalities that have been widely identified by using the VAK acronym. The VAK encompasses the visual modality, auditory modality, as well as Kinesthetic modality (Pritchard, 2013). Barbe and the colleagues showed that learning modality strengthens can take place cumulatively or independently, though, the visual or mixed is common. They also suggested that the learning style modality strengths are dissimilar from the preferences where an individual’s self-reported modality might never conform with their experimental measure modality strength. Nonetheless, this VAK model has been widely criticized where some Psychologist have argued that extensive use of the Barbes and colleagues VAK model is just nothing but a psychological or pseudoscience urban legend (Pritchard, 2013). Even though the VAK model has been widely used in the existing learning theories, mainly because of its simplicity, and Seel (2011) state that employing such methods is just nonsense from the neuroscientific standpoint. Moreover, Seel (2011) argues that people do make sense of the world when our minds typically work in unison. It is usually the connectivity in the brains that makes people makes sense of the world and hence any bid to detach the senses may just be very injurious. Nevertheless, the supporters of the VAK model are usually very holistic instead of separatist and barely propose split-up of sensory input.
Therefore, the recent studies have pointed the following. First, within any particular classroom, students do differ, and some may have more learning capacity, more interests, as well as better background than classmates may. Second, learners often express their preferences on how they need information to be given to them. For instance, some individuals like information to be visually presented while others prefer the auditory presentation. Finally, following the careful as well as extensive evaluation of the existing pieces of literature, many researchers have found no concrete evidence that individuals do learn best when a teacher tailors the instruction styles to match with the student’s preferred style of learning. For instance, Pashler et al. (2009) concluded that even though there are vast pieces of literature embracing styles of learning, very few studies have employed valid empirical techniques. Moreover, Pashler et al. (2009) point out that few empirical studies that did carry out the needed valid scientific studies found outcomes that emphatically controvert the widespread hypothesis.
In conclusion, this research asserts that no learning style theory is scientifically valid. There exists no sufficient evidence-base practice to validate integrating learning styles theories evaluation into the overall educational practices. Need to conduct vigorous and extensive empirical studies to justify the learning styles hypothesis is necessary so that teachers can embrace the approaches in the classroom. Just as pointed in this research, there is no need to place much faith in the theory of learning styles.
Pashler, H., McDaniel, M., Rohrer, D., & Bjork, R. (2009). Learning styles concepts and evidence. Psychological science in the public interest, 9(3), 105-119.
Pritchard, A. (2013). Ways of learning: Learning theories and learning styles in the classroom. London: Routledge.
Seel, N. (2011). Encyclopedia of the Sciences of Learning. New York: Springer Science & Business Media.