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Problems with “Learning Styles”

In the article, The Problem with “Learning Styles“, Cindi May makes a strong argument against the traditional notions of learning styles. While she recognizes the popularity and wide spread support of nurturing individual learning styles, especially in education, May supports her alternative solutions with research.

“It is clear that people have a strong sense of their own learning preferences (e.g., visual, kinesthetic, intuitive), but it is less clear that these preferences matter.”

It is important to consider the ideas expressed in this article as education programs and interpretative programs are developed for our individual parks. The examination of various educational theories involving how people learn can help to improve existing educational programs as well as aid in the development of new programs for park visitors. By taking into consideration how people learn in different ways, park staff can use this information in a proactive manner to enhance the effectiveness of essential programs unique to our various parks.

Reflection and Questions

  • What is the main argument that Cindi May makes against the use of specific “learning styles”?
  • How does she use research to defend her main ideas? Give a specific example from the article to support your answer.
  • How could the information discussed in this article influence how educational programs are developed in your particular park?
  • Do you consider the identification and fostering of various learning styles to be more important or do you believe disregarding the popular practice of learning styles would benefit your specific park? Explain why you came to this conclusion.

Check out this video about the myth of learning styles and then answer the questions below.

  • What are the main points made by Anita Acai from TEDxGuelphU about learning styles?
  • Did the information from this video alter any of your answers for the questions above. Why or why not? Explain.

Citation

May, Cindi. “The Problem with ‘Learning Styles'”. Scientific American, 29 May 2018.

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  1. I loved this article! It was a great synthesis of the current research into learning styles, and a good window into the pervasive belief that we each have a distinct learning style and we individually know what is best for us.

    After a review of the literature and scholarship on the subject, the author finds that most of our ideas about learning styles are bunk! She states, “It is clear that people have a strong sense of their own learning preferences (e.g., visual, kinesthetic, intuitive), but it is less clear that these preferences matter.”

    What is most important or learning and retaining knowledge is also clear in the research – and should be incorporated into our education and interpretation programs whenever possible. These best practices include “spacing out study sessions/learning over time (repetition, not cram sessions), experiencing the material in different formats, self-testing, and making meaningful connections to already known information.

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