More research is needed to back up learning styles theories

by Cindy Spence
Master’s student, University of Florida

Cindy Spence

Cindy Spence

Intuitively, learning styles theory makes sense. Many of us have an orientation toward a certain kind of stimulus: visual, aural, kinesthetic. And many of us believe we learn better if a lesson caters to our orientation.

The evidence, however, says our intuition is wrong.

University of Virginia psychology Professor Daniel Willingham, who studies the role of cognitive psychology in kindergarten through university education, says the evidence for learning styles just does not exist. Learning styles, he says, are one of those things people think they have figured out. They believe science has settled the issue, in favor of learning styles, when very little research has been done at all.

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Tips for teaching college students with different learning styles

by Sining Kong
Ph.D. student, University of Florida

Sining Kong

Sining Kong

Learning style can be described as a set of factors, behaviors, and attitudes that facilitate learning for an individual in a given situation. It influences how students learn, how teachers teach and how the two interact with each other. The idea of learning styles usually refers to a preferred way of learning. It implied that each individual has a natural inclination toward learning, and if that preference can be identified, both teaching and learning experiences can be more effective.

Teachers can use VARK questionnaire to know students’ learning styles. According to VARK inventory, there are four types of learning styles: 

* Visual learners prefer to use pictures, images, diagrams, colors, and mind maps.
* Aural/Auditory learners prefer using sound, rhythms, music, recordings, clever rhymes, and so on.
* Reading and writing learners enjoy reading and taking notes, turn diagram and charts into words.
* Physical (Bodily-Kinesthetic) learners prefer to use their body to assist in their learning, such as drawing diagrams, using physical objects, or role playing.

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Motivating college students — recognizing learning styles and role of intrinsic & extrinsic motivation

by Jung Won Chun
Ph.D. student, university of Florida


Jung Won Chun

Motivating students is not easy but is one of the most fundamental and important issue in teaching. If students lose their motivation to learn and engage with you as a teacher, they not only aren’t gaining as much as they could from your class but they could become academic discipline problems.

So, the key question is: “How can we motivate students?”

To answer this question, we need to understand different types of motivations. Here are two types of motivation:

Extrinsic motivation

  • Goal-driven: “I need a B to get into law school.”
  • Rewards: “I can earn extra credit if I do well on today’s quiz.”
  • Pressure to perform: “If I flunk this course, I will lose my scholarship.
  • Competition: “I should do a better performance to win the first prize in this project.”
  • Achievement: “I want to earn A for this course.”

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Consider different learning styles when you plan your teaching

by Jessica Marsh
Master’s student, University of Florida

A learning style is defined as the preferred, or best, method for an individual to gain knowledge. It is important to realize that though a student (or yourself) may have a preferred method of learning, learning styles are not fixed. This means that learning styles can be developed and improved over time. So if you took the quiz below and learned you were primarily an auditory learner you can still work on developing skills to become a better visual, or tactile learner.

Learning styles are unique like fingerprints. They vary from individual to individual and from subject to subject. You may use a different learning style when attempting to learn Algebra than you do attempting to learn Chemistry. Similarly learning styles can vary based on what you are being asked to do with the information (synthesize, memorize, apply, construct, etc.). When constructing assignments and presentations, it’s important to

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