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Elementary Science

Learning Styles

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Annette Martell Annette Martell 890 Points

How can I incorporate a science lesson that comprises the three learning styles? (visual, auditory, kinesthetic) 

Richard Lahti Richard Lahti 3070 Points

Annette - FYI, you are asking the wrong question.  (A) there are dozens of catagories of learning styles.  VAK is one way to break them down, but is not even the most common.  (B) learning styles are bunk.  When the UK looked to make learning styles part of law, they actually did some research and generated a couple (nearly 1000 page) reviews of the evidence.  Of the 71 different categories (i.e. VAK is 1 category, but others divide it up a totally different way - Gregorc's concrete sequential abstract random for example - the ones that actually had the highest quality data supporting them were not the ones that K-12 education in the US preaches.  Dunn and Dunn, for example, seems to be a giant ponzi scheme designed to make the church of Dunn and Dunn a lot of money in training ($1000+ per teacher per training) and test fees ($5 per test) without delivering the goods (no one can reproduce the results of their studies, so like cold fusion, this appears to be BS).

Every teacher should read the Coffield reports, particularly science teachers who should know better than their colleagues in other disciplines about what a scientific study is.  It gets very interesting because what you believe about learning styles (some of these 71 styles groups are preahced as consititutionally based - i.e. unchangable, and trying to teach to a student with a different style could cause physical illness, while other style groups say you can, and should, try to have students work on strengthening their weaker styles.  Given what we know about fixed and growth mindsets, internal and external locus of control, etc. we are potentially setting up generations of victims who falsely believe if they failed a lesson, it had nothing to do with their lack of effort, but that it was only because the teacher failed to customize the lesson to their special learning style).

Side note, while not the same thing (although many teachers confuse them) Howard Gardner (father of MI theory) himself had something to say about Multiple Intelligences and whether it was advisible to try to incorporate all 8 MIs in a single lesson - basically, that it was BS and he really could not believe the mess teachers were making of his research.  For example playing music in the background during math class does not engage students' musical intelligence, although many think they are and will write this garbage in their lesson plans as proof they are reaching MIs.  Likewise, he himself says that not all content CAN be taught using each intelligence and in the end, you have to teach the content.  I.e. while you might be able to approach some part of math through music (counting the beats, fractions (1/2 notes, 1/4 notes etc.) in the end, if you don't teach to their mathematical intelligence, you didn't succeed.

I could go on for a couple hundred pages, and do elsewhere, but ...

In conclusion, as teachers, we should realize that not all students learn the same way.  But, the idea that VAK (or any other of the 71) is the best way to differentiate among learners, that a valid and reliable test exists to actually determine these styles within any of these 71, that we should taylor lessons to these styles, rather than helping students develop their weaker areas, etc. is where the problem lies.

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