learning styles

What do teachers believe?

2017-03-16T20:49:30+00:00March 16th, 2017|research|

It's well-established that various 'myths' about how students' learn are remarkably persistent in the face of contradictory evidence. In 2014, Paul Howard-Jones' article, Neuroscience and education: myths and messages revealed the extent of teachers' faulty beliefs: In the UK, 93% of teachers believe that matching instruction to students' preferred learning style is a good idea, 88% believed in some form of Brain Gym, with 91% being convinced by the left-brain-right brain hypothesis. He concludes with the following: Neuromyths are misconceptions about the brain that flourish when cultural conditions protect them from scrutiny. Their form is influenced by a range of biases in how we [...]

Evidence and disadvantage: How useful is the EEF Toolkit?

2017-02-27T09:01:15+00:00February 26th, 2017|research|

Although everyone's education is important, the education of disadvantaged students is, arguably, of much greater importance than that of students from more advantaged backgrounds. The more privileged your background, the less it's likely to matter what happens at school. Conversely, the more socially disadvantaged your background, the greater the impact of what does, or does not happen at school.Sadly though, access to education is more than likely to experience a Matthew effect. Those who have the best chance in life are the most likely to get a great education. That being the case, it seems reasonable to suggest that whilst all children deserve that the [...]

Just semantics? Subtle but important misunderstandings about learning styles, modalities, and preferences

2016-02-21T22:54:54+00:00February 21st, 2016|Featured|

This is a guest blog from Yana Weinstein, Assistant Professor at University of Massachusetts, Lowell, one of the masterminds behind the wonderful Learning Scientists site. Scientists get quite attached to terms that describe the constructs they are studying. This is because you can’t measure something until you’ve defined what you think it is – and for convenience - labelled it. The naming process itself is fairly arbitrary. A researcher discovers an effect or proposes a process, and if it catches on and further research confirms the construct’s importance, the name might stick. Once a construct is identified and named, hypotheses about it can be formed [...]

One more nail in the Learning Styles coffin…

2016-02-21T10:35:18+00:00February 19th, 2016|myths|

We have scotch'd the snake, not kill'd it: She'll close and be herself, whilst our poor malice Remains in danger of her former tooth. Shakespeare, Macbeth Just when you think you've found a way to put the tortured soul of Learning Styles out of its pitiful misery, it lurches horribly back to life. For a moment I almost believed my last post, The Learning Styles myth debunked on the back of an envelope might have done the trick. Sadly not. If anything, all I succeeded in doing was opening up a new front for misunderstanding. Here was the 4-step debunking: People have preferences for [...]

The Learning Styles myth debunked on the back of an envelope

2016-02-18T21:03:10+00:00February 18th, 2016|myths|

"You don’t have to believe in learning styles theories to appreciate differences among kids, to hold an egalitarian attitude in the midst of such differences, and to try to foster such attitudes in students." Daniel Willingham, Learning Styles FAQ The Learning Styles myth, for those that aren't already clear, is that by aligning teaching to a student's preferred Learning Style, outcomes will improve. Despite lots of research into this claim - the so-called 'meshing theory' - no supporting evidence has turned up. But who needs evidence? In a 2014 survey, 90% of teachers agreed with the claim, "Individuals learn better when they [...]

In praise of signposts

2015-10-31T15:50:10+00:00October 31st, 2015|research|

The safest road to hell is the gradual one - the gentle slope, soft underfoot, without sudden turnings, without milestones, without signposts. C. S. Lewis If you're not sure which way to go, a sign post is very useful. A quick glance confirms either you're headed in the right direction or you're not.If you are facing in the right direction, all you have to do is keep on walking. Obviously you wouldn't expect a signpost to contain much information about your destination; that's not what they're for. This post makes the point that teachers rely on signposts to decide whether they're teaching [...]

It's the bell curve, stupid!

2015-06-10T12:20:07+01:00June 10th, 2015|research|

Like an ultimate fact without any cause, the individual outcome of a measurement is, however, in general not comprehended by laws. This must necessarily be the case. Wolfgang Pauli A month or so back I met Professor Steve Higgins from Durham University's Centre for Evaluation and Monitoring. He presented at researchED's primary literacy conference in Leeds and what he had to say was revelatory. His talk was on the temptations and tension inherent in the EEF's Pupil Premium Toolkit. As most readers will know, the toolkit is a bit of a blunt instrument and presents interventions in terms of how many [...]

Why do we overestimate the importance of differences?

2014-11-05T17:48:31+00:00November 5th, 2014|learning|

"For a difference to be a difference, it must make a difference." William James We're all different. Obviously. Just like snowflakes, human beings are all special, unique and entirely individual. But like snowflakes, maybe those differences aren't as important as we might sometimes like to think. When it snows the difference between individual flakes is irrelevant. For all we have our very own permutations of DNA, the fact our physiognomies are broadly similar means we behave in broadly similar ways. Of course we have an infinite variety of differences in ability, but the way we learn is surprisingly similar. You doubt me? Well, you're not [...]

The 'practice' of teaching

2012-01-16T20:22:57+00:00January 16th, 2012|learning, myths|

Fewer (activities); Deeper (learning); Better (student outcomes). John Tomsett, Headteacher This is not a blog post proper, just some notes on Hattie's introduction to Visible Learning for Teachers. Hattie says what we all know: there is no scientific recipe for effective teaching and learning and "no set of principles that can be applied to all students". That said, I've been engaging in some gentle elbow-digging about Learning Styles again today. For those of you who haven't read my views, I will summarise them by saying I think Learning Styles are deeply unhelpful. If anyone is interested in the dissenting view then [...]

Some thoughts on Learning Styles

2017-03-17T09:34:53+00:00December 5th, 2011|learning, myths|

The rusting can of worms that is Learning Styles has been prised open again and the wriggling mess is crawling all over the educational twittersphere. And on that note I will stop extending the metaphor. A visual metaphor for the visual learners who didn't get my first sentence Last week Ian Gilbert wrote Learning Styles are dead, long live Learning Styles. He said: I have been in too many situations where young people who weren’t ‘getting it’ one way then started ‘getting it’ when we tried a different way, to dismiss the whole learning styles thing as a fad. As [...]

Should we stop doing good things?

2013-07-22T18:03:20+01:00September 12th, 2011|training|

Surely doing good things is something we should do more of? Especially at school. I have seldom met a teacher who is not interested in doing the best for their students and therefore pretty keen to do good things. Good things are, well... good. Aren't they? Having just watched Dylan Wiliam's keynote speech at the SSAT conference in 2010, I'm not so sure. The speech was provocatively titled, "Stopping people doing good things: the essence of effective leadership". Needless to say, this is not a leadership style I have encountered before and until watching, probably wouldn't have been interested in trying. [...]

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