Related on TestTube:
Why Your Brain Has Trouble Learning
Which Countries Have the Best Sex Ed?
Meshing is an educational paradigm that tailors an instructor's teaching style to a child's individual learning style. For example, if a child is a visual learner, the teacher should use flash cards. It acknowledges that people learn differently. But the topic of learning styles gets super complicated when you take into account all the different learning styles that exist. A study from the Learning and Skills Research Centre in London classified over 70 different types. Most of these are constructed as dichotomous with opposing concepts, like visual learners vs auditory, so it's hard to pinpoint what exactly what we mean when educators talk about learning styles.
Another problem is that there isn't a lot of empirical evidence to support learning styles. It has been studied, but most studies weren't well designed. A 2009 study published in the journal Psychological Science in the Public Interest found a "lack of methodologically sound studies of learning styles". The authors looked for a rigorous approach to testing the validity of claims that learning styles matter. They laid down requirements for a thorough investigation. Divide people up based on their supposed learning style, randomly assign them whatever method of instruction, then test all the students. Basically, the authors were looking for an experiment that "revealed a specific type of interaction between learning style and instructional method". The students who were assigned their preferred method should perform better on the test. They looked at lots of different studies and found that lots of people will proclaim some type of preferred educational experience, but what they found no difference in the end. Because the studies relied on self-reporting, what they found had contradicting results.
So what's the best way to teach a student? A study published in the journal Educational Psychologist found that people who are new to a subject learn differently than those who have more expertise, which is called the "Expertise Reversal Effect". On the other hand, those who are experts or more knowledgeable about a subject might be harmed by too much guidance. People without a lot of experience learn better by looking at examples and those with more experience need to be more hands on, it's better for them if they solve problems by themselves. Other studies show that engaging students is the best way to go. One study published in the journal Science found that a way to teach called "deliberate practice" helped students do twice as well on a test and increased attendance by 20 percent! The trick? This practice relies less on lectures and focuses more on the students.
What's your favorite way to learn? Be sure to let us know down below in the comments.
Education: Learning styles debunked (Science Daily)
"Are you a verbal learner or a visual learner? Chances are, you've pegged yourself or your children as either one or the other and rely on study techniques that suit your individual learning needs."
A Better Way to Teach? (Science Magazine)
"A new study shows that students learn much better through an active, iterative process that involves working through their misconceptions with fellow students and getting immediate feedback from the instructor."