In the 1990s, every community college teacher had to sit through workshops about learning styles and how to plan our teaching to address these  styles.  The idea was that you’d give students a test (we all had to take it too) to identify what style or mode they’d learn in best: tactile, auditory, visual, spoken word, etc.  Supposedly then, a teacher would try to deliver content in your best (self-identified) learning style, to maximize your learning and retention.

But while the learning styles concept was great for pigeon-holing, how was a teacher supposed to tailor the curriculum specifically to each and every student?  And what if, as a student, your teacher taught mostly using a learning style you supposedly didn’t have?  Does that mean you’d flunk the course because you wouldn’t learn anything?   About the only useful thing I got out of it was to take a multimedia approach to teaching, so the same content was available across several learning modes– something for everybody.

But “learning styles” have fallen on hard times, and they’re almost unheard of in colleges now.  Are they considered “old hat”, or are learning styles still useful.  Julian Stodd moderates a lively discussion of whether “learning styles”  is still a useful concept in instructional design. Thanks to Julian for weaving so many opinions together and Christy Tucker for the heads up on this post.


About eric

I am a storyteller who enjoys using a variety of media, especially visual, to teach about life and the natural world. My portfolio can be found at
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