Why Classroom Accommodations for Learning Styles Don't Necessarily Improve Outcomes
Although educators and researchers disagree on how many learning styles may exist, there are at least four that many accept as as general classifications:
• VISUAL LEARNER: Learns well when aided by images, pictures and spatial organization of elements
• AUDITORY LEARNER: Learns well when aided by music, sound, rhyme, rhythm, speaking or listening
• READING/WRITING LEARNER: Learns well by reading or writing the material
• KINESTHETIC LEARNER: Learns well when moving and/or using hands and sense of touch. (Writing or drawing diagrams are physical activities that can fall into this category as well.)
Criticisms of learning style models
There are two major concerns over these classifications:
No. 1: No one can say for sure what makes up individual learning styles. Are they psychological? Preferences? Habits? Or driven by biology?
No 2: There is no real evidence showing that accommodations in the classroom improve academic outcomes.
One possible explanation to explain learning styles
It’s possible that learning styles can be explained and understood by considering the key role played by cognitive strengths and weaknesses. Cognitive skills are the core skills the brain uses to think and learn, and explain why some students struggle to learn in various settings. Cognitive strengths and weaknesses can even explain learning style preferences.
While a very smart student with slow processing speed may (eventually) get 100% on a test if given more time than his/her peers, the accommodation doesn't address the root cause of the learning struggle: weak processing speed.
Likewise, while a child with attention struggles may perform better on tasks when put into a separate room alone with no distractions, the accommodation doesn't address the root cause of the learning struggle: weak attention skills.
Targeting and training weak cognitive skills
Cognitive training, also known as brain training, is a method by which cognitive weaknesses can be strengthened. Brain training, when done one-on-one with a trainer, uses intense mental exercise to target and strengthen skills that aren’t performing as well as desired. At LearningRx, we start with a one-hour Brain Skills Assessment to determine which cognitive skills are weak, than create a personal brain training program to target and strengthen those skills. For most students, the results have made learning easier and faster in ANY subject and confidence soars!
To learn more, visit www.LearningRx.com.