There are strengths and weaknesses in relying on learning styles or learning preferences for educators, parents, mentors and learners. A careful evaluation of the underlying purposes to understand one’s learning preference should be considered while gaining a knowledge of the learning style. Many educators may use the learning styles to help aid in their teaching while some researchers debate on the effectiveness of this dependency on a methodology.
Relying too heavily on a learning style can cause dilemmas for students as they may refuse to reach for additional opportunities to learn which may be outside of their comfort zone. Study skills become a crutch and an excuse instead of an asset. This approach can even create pre-conceived ideas when it comes to learning, boxing individuals into a stereotype or a label which shackles the learner. Students have even been noted to blame failure for learning a concept or within the confines of a learning experience on how the information was presented, differing from their preferred learning style, using it as a type of self-fulfilling prophecy.
Educators also contribute to the weaknesses in learning styles as they may or may not favor one style over another. Teachers may have a tendency to cater to the educational needs of students who favor the same learning preferences as the educator. Sadly, there can even be favoritism while instructors continually indulge a favorite student’s learning style. Lastly, educators, with generally good intentions, determine to strengthen the weaknesses of students.
In contrast the strengths balance the scale for the use of learning preferences as the methodology aids individuals in an understanding of themselves as learners and increases self-awareness. Learning styles, additionally, increase self-esteem, learning effectiveness, motivation and even retention, giving learners a locus of control in educational environments. Using these styles, students may even morph an inactive learning situation to a more active and engaging opportunity (Wood, 2017).
For educators, using learning styles or preferences provides a foundation for conversations with students with a common vernacular. Students and teachers bridge generational gaps to arrive at a mutual understanding. Instructors may use this language to assist students in comprehending their learning capabilities and even promoting a continued effort to assume responsibility for their learning.
Teaching strategies may be built upon the understanding of learning styles, promoting a variety of experiences to learn which in turn avoids a point of boredom from repeated instructional usage. The classroom, in turn, changes into a hands-on laboratory, encouraging learners to expand their preferences, test new hypothesis and even link prior knowledge to new knowledge through scaffolding. Through this usage, students feel empowered in their learning process.
For other learning styles: MBTI Learning Styles – A Practical Approach Available in paperback; Kindle; and pdf versions
Wood, D. (2017). Reasons to Incorporate Learning Styles in Teaching. Retrieved from http://study.com/academy/lesson/reasons-to-incorporate-learning-styles-in-teaching.html.
By Tracy Atkinson
Tracy Atkinson, mother of six, lives in the Midwest with her husband. She is a teacher, having taught elementary school to higher education, holding degrees in elementary education and a master’s in higher education. Her passion is researching, studying and investigating the attributes related to self-directed learners. She has published several titles, including The Art of Learning Journals, Calais: The Annals of the Hidden, Lemosa: The Annals of the Hidden, Book Two, Rachel’s 8 and Securing Your Tent. She is currently working on a non-fiction text exploring the attributes of self-directed learners: The Five Characteristics of Self-directed Learners.