Are Learning Styles a Myth?

I didn’t read it closely yet, but it looks interesting.

“A popular theory that some people learn better visually or aurally keeps getting debunked.”

1 Like

The topic interests me. I suspect there are times when visual is better, times when aural is better, and times when neither is best. For example, back in early 1990s, I needed to convert my visual memory of morse code into sound so that I could pass the code test for an amateur radio license. I had a visual memory I could see of reading the dits and dahs of the alphabet off of a card my Dad showed me in the 1960s; I had a tactile memory of the deaf finger-spelling alphabet learned from another card also in the 1960s; and, I listened to a morse code training lesson while physically shaping my hand into the deaf letter or number or letter-sequence. This allowed me to connect my visual memory via my tactile memory into auditory memory for just long enough to pass that test and get licensed.

My memory needs and uses may differ from typical. I appreciate the material that I am reading in the forum areas. I’m new here, Mrs.S


I can’t learn from most instructors. I sit in class to take notes and then go home and teach myself the material. The pace is wrong. The explanations seem to answer the wrong questions and anyway, I’m full after 20 mins of listening to anybody I have spent most of my life as an academic taking courses for multiple advanced degrees and I can only remember a few instructors that actually ‘taught me’. I certainly got important tips, guidance and criticism but in comprehending the material I was on my own. If the book was good enough and the instructor would allow it, I might not attend lectures at all. I have the same trouble with videos. I learned by writing my own notes and explaining things to myself - in words mostly. I have boxes of them still. Meticulously hand printed.


Often, when I’m attending a conference, or seminar or class, I feel that it can occupy only 30% of my brain and I get very impatient. I always bring a notebook with me (analog or digital) and begin to write and develop other ideas, based on what I’m listening, or not at all. In very few cases a professor of speaker manages to catch 100% of my attention. Only by writing I can manage to think independently of what I’m listening.

I don’t know if it is related or not, but I profoundly dislike phone calls.


For the same reason, if im teaching a course at the university and for any reason the students HAVE to attend, I tell them that if they want they are welcomed to read other books or materials (but not to use the phone :-))

1 Like

Completely agree about phone calls. Twenty minutes worth of conversation and feigned social niceties for 30 seconds worth of info and you have no control. In fact, I just bawled someone out for that. In the middle of writing code. It can take 30 mins to pick all the cards up off the floor and stack them back up in the air.

I’ve sat in many classes as you describe. Those are a disaster for me. My brain has only two attention modes - total focus or not hearing a word. If they bore me, I’m far far away.


Yes, it’s a myth.

The matching hypothesis (learning styles in essence), as the article said, refers to the subjective preference of learning by the subjects. Moreover, it’s considered an urban legend in psychology: “The second legend is the widespread belief that learners have specific learning styles and that education should be individualized to the extent that the pedagogy of teaching/learning is matched to the preferred style of the learner”.

You’re right.

A 2008 study found the importance of teaching something in a mode that corresponds with the topic. For example, visual representation for geometry.

Phones, in a lecture? I’d never imagined it was an issue. I haven’t been in a classroom for a while now.

I felt the same way. As long as you can demonstrate command of the material in exams and homework, how you got there was up to you. I’m available if you want.

Maybe it really is a myth !

The proof being that I have yet to find anyone able to teach me calculus in my preferred learning style of olfaction or even my alternative gustatory learning style.

But I understand the struggle some instructors may have with these learning styles, so I try to be flexible, yet even with my least preferred style
of interpretive dance, learning calculus seems hopeless.

Maybe I will just have to be like everyone else and worry about learning the material as presented, rather than trying to get everyone to accomodate to me. I really can’t help but feel offended that my needs are being brushed aside like this; I better go see my counselor.


Whoa! Relax! Help is here. I’ve taught calculus many times and I’m also a decent cook. How about some Vanishingly Small Croissants ? Not sure how much will be left by the time they arrive (all croissants go to zero as x goes to infinity - which is why you don’t see many two day old croissants) but if you give me an address, I’ll try.

1 Like

I can’t recall the article that studied this, but…

Apparently, learning about your learning style and being taught according to it, helps magnify the confirmation bias. People subjectively feel like it works better. However actual performance does not change. Mabye that was in “Make it stick”?