Learning Style Again Where Is the Empirical Evidence Dr

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					     Learning Style Again:
Where Is the Empirical Evidence ?
          Dr. Ellen S. Menaker, CPT
         Dr. Susan L. Coleman, CPT
      Intelligent Decision Systems, Inc

• Introduction
• Why again? Why now?
• Limitations of models and instruments
• What does the empirical evidence show?
• What does that mean for designers and
  trainers and curriculum managers?
• Conclusion
• Polarizing concept
• Popular appeal versus empirical evidence

                            I’m an ENTJ, what are you?

          I’m an auditory learner, so tell me
                what I need to know.
           Why again, why now?
• Academics often dismiss the subject
• Interest continues to resurface in training
   –   Search for efficiency and effectiveness
   –   Desire to reduce design to templates
   –   Increase in independent self-paced instruction
   –   Renewed interest in “how people learn”
• More than 71 models and instruments address
  learning or cognitive styles
     Limitations of models and
• Conceptual issues about what a learning
  style is
• Psychometric deficiencies
• Flawed research leading to findings that are
  not repeatable or generalizable
• Lack of empirical evidence to support
  matching instruction to styles
           Conceptual issues
• No single theory unites the research
• Multiple terms and related concepts
  – Learning styles- way to approach learning task
  – Learning preferences- favoring one method over
  – Learning strategies- adopting a distinct plan or
  – Cognitive styles- way of organizing and processing
  – Cognitive strategies- plan for organizing and
    processing information.
          Conceptual issues
• Disagreement about the nature of styles
  – Are styles stable or flexible?
  – Unitary or multifaceted?

                           Vermunt as cited in Coffield et al, 2004
       Methodological issues
• Can we identify a set of learner
  – Lack of psychometric rigor of instruments
  – Lack of independent research
  – Lack of longitudinal studies
 Limitations of Popular Models
• Dunn & Dunn’s LSI
  – lacks predictive validity
  – may impact adult learners in motivation and learning how
    environment supports or distracts them
• Myers-Briggs MBTI
  – impact for educational settings inconclusive
  – best for stimulating discussion in counseling and employment
• Keirsey Temperament Sorter
  – recommended for use as personal exploration for career
           Promising Models
• Allinson & Hayes: Cognitive Style Index (CSI)
• Apter: Motivational Style Profile (MSP)
• Entwistle: Approaches and Study Skills
  Inventory for Students (ASSIST)
• Hermann: Hermann's Brain Dominance
  Instrument (HBDI)
• Jackson: Learning Styles Profile (LSP)
• Vermunt: Inventory of Learning Styles (ILS)
         Impact on Learning
• Do learning/cognitive styles provide a roadmap
  for designing instruction?
           Research Findings
• No compelling empirical evidence that matching
  a style to instructional strategy or teaching style
  increases learning
• Discussion of learning/cognitive styles may
  provide common language for discussing
• Nature of the task, learner’s prior experience,
  and understanding of how content will be used
  are keys to good design
 What does empirical evidence
• Developing learners metacognitive
  – Strategies
  – Conditions under which strategies are most
  – One’s own strengths and weaknesses
• Designing to manage cognitive load
  – Provide scaffolding
• Promoting learner self-regulation
• Models fraught with psychometric deficiencies
   – No evidence for making decisions about learners or
• Congruence between identified style and
  instructional style has little impact on learning
   – No evidence instructional strategies for one purported
     style are more effective than others
• Focus on tailoring instruction to properties of
   – Evidence for managing cognitive load and developing
     learners metacognitive and self-regulatory skills