August 29, 2011

"Think You're An Auditory Or Visual Learner?"

"Scientists Say It's Unlikely."


David said...

And when they get a job and can't read and evaluate written material adequately, is the employer going to give them a visual or auditory dispensation?

This is just one more way the schools evade doing the tough and essential work of teaching reading, comprehension and evaluation skills.

Martin L. Shoemaker said...

I'm not saying the field of psychology should be outlawed; but I sometimes wonder if psychology researchers should be allowed to publish their results where the lay public read them. I think their works gets misused more than practically any other science. "Everyone knows" things about psychology for which there's zero evidence. This article points out one great example, but there are many.

MadisonMan said...

Yes Yes Yes.

Advocating teaching to various learning styles is all over the place at the tech college I teach at. It drives me crazy.

You end up with students saying I can't learn this way because I'm an X learner and you're teaching as if I learn by Y. Education/Psych PhDs have driven this and it only gives people who aren't learning an excuse to fall back on when they fail.

Ann Althouse said...

I don't hear law students saying this. In law you have to understand spoken and written language. If that's not what you're good at, it's not the right field for you.

I did once have a student who said she had a learning problem with diagrams (and I would sometimes put a diagram on the board). I didn't really see why she was telling me. Just ignore the diagram. It's always supplemental to language, intended to help people "see" a concept. If it doesn't help, just use the language.

edutcher said...

The Blonde insists she's a visual learner.

Given the size of the books she had to read, and how many, to get her BSN, I have to agree with NPR - for once.

Dust Bunny Queen said...

that studies show that when students pay closer attention, they learn better.

Duh!! You have to do a study to show this?

Hope it didn't use a million dollars in tax payer money to figure that out.


Martin L. Shoemaker said...

Dust Bunny Queen, we had around a century of Dewey-inspired education "reforms" that were based on dogma more than data. Very often, that dogma insisted that common sense was wrong, and it foisted upon us things like the learning styles fad.

Sadly, we won't overturn that dogma without data; and data costs time and money.

TMink said...

Martin, I am not sure any psychologist had anything to do with this! The whole VAK stuff was written by a teacher, not a psychologist, and certainly not a researcher. In fact, the people who are debunking this stuff are the psychologists.

Not that psychologists have not put forth our own rubbish, but this rubbish, I think, is not ours. It is educator rubbish, not psychologist rubbish so far as I can see.


Martin L. Shoemaker said...

TMink, I tried (but apparently failed) to paint psychologists as the good guys here. Yes, it's the psychologists doing the actual data gathering and analysis -- i.e., actual science.

Sadly, policy gets decided by people who can't tell science from agenda and politics.

I was unaware that there were no psychologists involved here. I assumed that facts were misinterpreted and misused to fit a theory or an agenda. If at root there never were any facts to begin with, that doesn't change my opinion that policy shouldn't ever be based on pop psychology that "everybody knows".

Joe said...

My take on the article wasn't that there aren't people who learn better in different ways, but that the notion you can adjust teaching to accomodate that is highly questionable.

Pogo said...

We waste several minutes on every patient encounter documenting that we have addressed the "patient's preferred style of learning".

I want to punch these nursing buttinskies all right now, smack dab in the schnozzola.

Because I learn better by feeling fist in somebody's mush.

Bart Hall (Kansas, USA) said...

I am an auditory learner, and of that there is no doubt. Comfortable in six languages, every one of them learnt only by ear. Several degrees in the hard sciences and rarely took any notes.

If, however, I missed a class, I was royally screwed. None of this stops me from reading voraciously to this day, and none of it suggests in the slightest that teachers and professors ought somehow to have tailored their teaching style to my learning style.

Acquiring functionally mastery of the material offered is my responsibility, and no one else's. "Learning style" is too often just a cop-out for bad attitude, inattention, weak effort, and an overall lack of motivation. It's why I don't teach.

Pogo said...

Mebbe the educrats would learn not to butt in so much if I threw glitter on them and (glancingly) brushed their necks.

ndspinelli said...

Carol Herman never progressed past learning tactilely, like an 8 month old infant.

Dan in Philly said...

I really hate psychology. Just had to get that off my chest, my therapist says it's good for me...

Michael Farris said...

The whole point of learning styles is not to make teachers repeat everything three times (though that often doesn't hurt).

The idea is for the student to recognize their own style and learn how to apply their preferred style to the material no matter how it's presented to them originally.

My preference (a subjective feeling that needs no confirmation by psycologists thank you very much) is kinesthetic, hearing and seeing in that order and I've learned how to use my preferences to learn things I want to learn.

But there is a current fashion in the US that it's the teacher's job to learn for the students. It's prbobably related to an every bigger fashion in not letting children experience anything for themselves until it's been filtered through any number of caretaker adults.

traditionalguy said...

I see this debate as about a Bell Curve of human abilities.

At either end a few do learn differently, but most are good old middle of the curve folks.

So respect anyone who has the problem.

Ankur said...

How a teacher teaches has to be delineated from how a student learns. In larger classes, like in core courses in tech universities, one cannot tailor the teaching to everyone's learning style. One can provide materials - you choose what material you want, and learn, AFTER listening to the lecture. That's YOUR homework, student.

Secretly, I have always believed that whenever someone said "I am a visual learner" or "I am an experiential learner", it is code for "I am too lazy to read, or pay attention in class".

For example, you CANNOT learn quantum mechanics visually because the only visual representations are half baked, and more misleading than informative. You HAVE to understand it in an abstract, mathematical-model oriented way. And for that, you have to read, and you have to listen.

And no, a wormhole does not look like a tunnel in space, sci-fi watchers. It does not look like ANYTHING, because it does not exist in a three dimensional visual-representational space. So - read.

Michael K said...

I think there are visual learners, as I am. Obviously there are auditory learners since many blind people do very well in school. The demands to alter teaching is nonsense. I wrote and wrote and wrote because that is how I learn. I would take almost verbatim lecture notes, then outline them, then outline the outline. That's how I learn.

Those who don't learn usually don't do the work.

Teri said...

I can read a whole textbook in a day or two, but I have a real hard time listening to spoken teaching. (I can't even listen to directions, thank God for Mapquest!) Sort of like Michael, if I am listening to a lecture that has material I have to remember, I take notes and notes and notes.

I hardly ever read the notes again, because once I have written it I have learned it. This goes for both handwritten and computer-done notes.

The class that I did the worst in was a teacher who refused to use a textbook and taught EVERYTHING through lectures, in such a rambling fashion that it was impossible to coherently pull out what he was trying to say. I begged him to suggest a book that would help me learn and the asshole sent me after an expensive book that bore absolutely no resemblance to what he was teaching.

Even though no one gets through life without encountering asshole teachers, it's still our own responsibility to figure out how we ourselves learn and figure out how to set up our own systems that work for us.

m stone said...

Lots of neuro-linguistic programming information on this topic if you do a search.

The point is that regardless of your dominant sense, you will excel in an area with some exposure. And that happens in the course of a basic education. Visual learners often become artists, audis become writers, and kinos (for kinesthetic-dominact) designers or into tactile trades.

It really all works out in the long run.

Curious George said...

If you are a teacher best to cover both bases.

TMink said...

Martin, please forgive my misunderstanding. I completely agree that actual science beats pseudo-science hands down. Well, except for monster movies.