
Question: The idea of learning styles is prevalent in some education circles and popular among the general public, despite lack of evidence. What do you say to an educator who says "Everyone learns differently!" without reinforcing the idea of learning styles?
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Paula commented on :
A useful blog post on the British Council website https://www.britishcouncil.org/voicesmagazine/fourreasonsavoidlearningstylesonealternative
Paula commented on :
And another useful summary here https://www.teachermagazine.com.au/articles/tacklingthelearningstylesmyth
zenamartin commented on :
I have read these responses with great interest. Thank you. What are your thoughts on the evidence behind multisensory teaching approaches? Having had prevalence in specialist teaching for many decades (multisensory language programmes, for example, concrete apparatus and multisensory ways to teach number, and so on), I have been keen to defend these methods and articulate how distinct they are from VAK (VARK). I am interested in your thoughts and understanding on this.
Brian commented on :
The best teachers of dyslexics and dyscalculics that I know, all think that multisensory methods are necessary in the early stages of learning to read or do arithmetic. In mainstream schools, typical Year 1 numeracy lessons use excellent concrete materials are skilfully deployed by teachers, and at the end of the year these materials are put back in the cupboard. Many children, but especially dyscalculics, would be greatly helped by continuing with these methods until their understanding of basic concepts is secure.
In the case of numeracy, learners need to know about sets which are best illustrated by concrete materials, which are visual and tactile , but they also need to count set members aloud – auditory language – and they need to learn the symbols that correspond to the numerosity of sets. So teaching numeracy is almost inevitably multisensory. However, the aim of these methods is to foster an understanding of the abstract nature of numbers and operations on them. Even chalk and talk is multisensory in that it uses spoken language, visual information and if learners have write, then tactile too. But I don’t think this is what you meant.
With manipulatives, such as counters, it is easy to see that 3 plus 5 is the same as 5 plus 3, and hence that addition is commutative. Without them the learner may treat these two equations as unrelated at least for a while.
Incidentally, the latest crazy idea from the Department for Education is that children must learn off by heart the times tables to twelve. This entails learning 5×3 and 3×5 as separate facts rather than using a method that shows that these are two versions of the same fact. Arrays of counters does this very transparently.
Rote recitation of tables is not multisensory learning, will not promote understanding, and will steal time from teaching children mathematical concepts and relationships in sensible way.
y737 commented on :
Rote learning of times tables enables a student to retrieve times table answers very quickly and out of sequence, thus increasing calculation speed. The vast majority of children will notice en passant that 5×3 and 3×5 have identical answers and use that knowledge too, just as they do with addition. It is but one aspect of learning what multiplication, but it’s a pretty important one. Children who, without leaning times tables, take a long time to solve a simple calculation, become frustrated and demoralised students.
Brian commented on :
Is there peerreviewed published data on this?
Courtney commented on :
It might be helpful to think about arithmetic fact fluency and rote memorization separately, where the former is a goal and the latter is an approach. It’s important for students to be fluent with arithmetic fact retrieval, in order to calculate more effectively. How students achieve fluency is also important. Rote memorization often refers to learning arithmetic facts without conceptual understanding (e.g., understanding what multiplication is, the commutative and distributive properties of multiplication). Many see this approach as a missed opportunity and a lesseffective method for developing flexibility with numbers and operations.
As one example, a student could learn that 4 x 7 = 28 and recite it many times. A student could alternatively learn that 4 x 7 = 4 x (5 + 2) = 20 + 8. The latter case provides opportunities to build fact fluency while also developing students’ understanding of the distributive property and strategies for solving other multiplication problems.
Lia  WellcomeTrust commented on :
Another useful blog from the Centre for Educational Neuroscience – http://www.educationalneuroscience.org.uk/neuromythorneurofact/childrenhavedifferentlearningstyles/
Lia  WellcomeTrust commented on :
A useful blog from the Centre for Educational Neuroscience – http://www.educationalneuroscience.org.uk/neuromythorneurofact/childrenhavedifferentlearningstyles/