Learning styles and the human brain: what does the evidence tell us?

2018-10-01T21:55:33Z (GMT) by Francisco J. Álvarez-Montero
Learning styles are a widespread idea that has high levels of acceptance in education and psychology. The promises of adopting the construct range from gains in academic performance, to the development of respect for the self and others. Nevertheless, from a scientific perspective it remains highly controversial. Most studies indicate that matching teaching to the learning styles of students does not improve learning, and that their psychometric instruments do not show enough reliability and validity. In this sense, this paper investigated if the postulates of learning styles are consistent with the way the human brain process information. Moreover, the trend of the accumulated evidence about learning styles was analyzed, using a simple algorithm, to determine if they are a proven, debatable, improbable or denied phenomenon. Results show: (1) that learning styles, along with the multiple intelligence theory and the left or right-brained hypothesis, are not compatible with what is currently know about the inner workings of the brain; (2) that the trend of the evidence, although still limited, does not favor learning styles; (3) that as a phenomenon styles are classified as improbable.