November 08, 2011
A crusader against learning styles
Today, I was forwarded a slide-deck from the recent Federal Government Distance Learning Association keynote address by Jolly Holden, Ed.D.
The content, sans the narration was highly engaging and informative. Evidence of meta-research on learning styles that have burgeoned over the past few decades. As an self-taught instructional design professional with education in the applied sciences, I found the concept of learning styles intriguing. Learning styles were intuitive, but so are many concepts that may be flawed on skewed observation. Whenever I read up on learning styles in standard sources like Thoery & Practice of Online Learning it seemed like learning styles do have relevance to design and delivery of education, but no way to apply in the batch production environment that I work in.
So, seeing this partial validation of my brief experience with learning styles was exciting and intriguing. Evidence of efficacy of learning styles for improving learning retention is not solid at this point. As one colleague summarized, about 70% of learning variability may depend on prior knowledge and intrinsic motivation of learners. So the question remains, how do we excite these aspects of our learners?
The answers may lie in the field of motivational psychology and persuasion.