In writing my new book, CEO’S Guide to Training, eLearning & Work: Reshaping Learning into a Competitive Advantage, I have a chapter on learning myths that learning teams should be worried about. I don't provide a full list of myths, just a dozen major ones. For a larger list see excellent books like Clark Quinn’s Millennials, Goldfish & Other Training Misconceptions, and Pedro de Bruyckere, Paul Kirschner, and Carl Hulshof’s two books on Urban Myths about Learning and Education.
I did, in the chapter notes for the book, compile some of the recent research on learning styles, and I thought you might be interested--maybe you could use this to convince your stakeholders--so here it is, in first draft form:
There are very strong reviews that show that the learning styles notion is a myth worth avoiding. The Association for Psychological Science published a definitive review in 2008 from four of the top learning researchers.
- Pashler, H., McDaniel, M., Rohrer, D., & Bjork, R. (2008). Learning styles: Concepts and evidence. Psychological Science in the Public Interest, 9(3), 105–119. Available at: https://www.apa.org/pubs/journ...
Famed educational researcher Daniel Willingham and colleagues conducted their own review and found learning styles a poor way to design learning.
- Willingham, D. T., Hughes, E. M., & Dobolyi, D. G. (2015). The scientific status of learning styles theories. Teaching of Psychology, 42(3), 266–271.
Here are two reviews each examining aspects of one learning-styles approach—and finding them wanting.
- Klitmøller, J. (2015). Review of the methods and findings in the Dunn and Dunn learning styles model research on perceptual preferences. Nordic Psychology, 67(1), 2–26.
- Calderón Carvajal, C., Ximénez Gómez, C., Lay-Lisboa, S., & Briceño, M. (2021). Reviewing the structure of Kolb’s Learning Style inventory from factor analysis and Thurstonian Item Response Theory (IRT) model approaches. Journal of Psychoeducational Assessment, 39(5), 593–609.
One researcher who once advocated for designing elearning differently based on people’s cognitive learning styles did further research and now disavows learning styles.
- Cook, D. A. (2012). Revisiting cognitive and learning styles in computer-assisted instruction: Not so useful after all. Academic Medicine, 87(6), 778–784.
Researchers have begun to come to grips with the widespread dispersion of the learning styles myth, tracking its history, lamenting its current reach, and strategizing ways to limit the damage.
- Dekker, H. D., & Kim, J. A. (2022). The widespread belief in learning styles. In D. H. Robinson, V. X. Yan, & J. A. Kim (Eds.), Learning styles, classroom instruction, and student achievement (pp. 11–20). Springer Nature Switzerland AG.
- Olsen, A. A., Romig, J. E., Green, A. L., Joswick, C., & Nandakumar, V. (2022). Myth busted or zombie concept? A systematic review of articles referencing “learning styles” from 2009 to 2019. In D. H. Robinson, V. X. Yan, & J. A. Kim (Eds.), Learning styles, classroom instruction, and student achievement
(pp. 39–57). Springer Nature Switzerland AG.
- Nancekivell, S. E., Shah, P., & Gelman, S. A. (2020). Maybe they’re born with it, or maybe it’s experience: Toward a deeper understanding of the learning style myth. Journal of Educational Psychology, 112(2), 221–235.
There are even research-based discussions that show how harmful the learning-styles myth can be for those designing learning.
- Nancekivell, S. E., Sun, X., Gelman, S. A., & Shah, P. (2021). A slippery myth: How learning style beliefs shape reasoning about multimodal instruction and related scientific evidence. Cognitive Science, 45(10), Article e13047.
- Yan, V. X., & Fralick, C. M. (2022). Consequences of endorsing the individual learning styles myth: Helpful, harmful, or harmless? In D. H. Robinson, V. X. Yan, & J. A. Kim (Eds.), Learning styles, classroom instruction, and student achievement
(pp. 59–74). Springer Nature Switzerland AG.
Lots of people deserve credit for debunking this damaging myth, but I don’t want you to overlook an important new contribution from Daniel Robinson, Veronica Yan, and Joseph Kim, editors of a research-focused book on learning styles, Learning Styles, Classroom Instruction, and Student Achievement.