18 January 2010

Learner's Styles, Aptitudes, Personalities .. do they make a difference?

Learning styles refer to the different ways different people learn information (e.g. visual / audio learners). Learning aptitudes refer to how different people learn in different learning environment structure (e.g. how students learn in highly structured or less structured learning environments). Learner personalities refer to the learner's belief whether his or her successes or failures are a consequence of internal or external factors (e.g. whether students believe their success and failures are a consequence of internal or external factors). Pashler et al. (2009) report that there are inconsistent and insufficient evidences that learning will be effective if instructions are provided in the mode that match learner's styles / attributes / personalities. This does not mean that learners do not have preferences, but in the particular type of evidence that Pashler et al. are looking for, that according to them would be "credible validation of learning-styles-based instruction", such evidence is missing.

The lack of evidence also does not mean that instructors should just stick to one mode of teaching. Students benefit from different representations of information, whether it be verbal, visual, analytical, lecture-based, inductive / deductive reasoning, etc., and that students should not pigeon-holed themselves in learning from any one or two particular styles.


Pashler, H., McDaniel, M., Rohrer, D., and Bjork, R. (2009). Learning Styles, Concepts and Evidence. Psychological Science in The Public Interest. 9(3), pp 105- 119.

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