In the last 20-30 years, learning styles has been a heavily debated topic in the field of education. Many teachers and schools have adopted the learning style approach into their classrooms. The idea of teaching students according to their preferred learning style is attracting to many, yet some believe it is another generalized theory that has little or no validity. Research over time has investigated the implications of using the learning style theory in classrooms and in the work place. Much of the research that has been conducted thus far show positive results of its effectiveness. Many elements play a role in teaching effectively. This literature review discusses the effectiveness of teaching according to learning style, the criticism of learning style theories, and the different aspects that affect the learning style theory. Keywords: learning styles, multi-modalities, multiple intelligences, learning processes, learning theories
Every person has a preferred style in which they learn. This is called learning style or is also referred to as multiple intelligences. Most educators agree that the level of learning achieved by a learner is one of the most important factors that determine the success of a learning environment (Yilmaz-Soylu & Akkoyunlu, 2009). Traditionally, most students are taught the same material in the same manner. Often times teaching is through direct instruction, seat work and students learn mostly from listening and observing. The trend of student-centered teaching has become more common in classrooms for the last 10 years. Teachers have generally reported learning success when teaching and learning is more student-centered or student directed. “Tailoring teaching to individual needs” seems to be the norm in today’s classroom (Allcock & Hulme, 2010). The topic has been under debate, weighing both the positives and negatives and considering the many elements that play a vital role in determining the effectiveness of teaching according to student learning style. Learning Theory Models
Dunn and Dunn Learning Styles Model
Several learning theory models exist in the education world. Rita and Kenneth Dunn introduced their learning theory model in 1976. Rita and Kenneth Dunn define learning as the way in which each learner begins to concentrate, process, and retain new and difficult information (Dunn, Beaudry, Klavas, 1989). They believe that process is different for every individual. Rita and Kenneth Dunn developed an inclusive model that identifies each individual’s strengths and preferences across the full spectrum of five categories that include environmental, emotional, sociological, physical, and psychological (Dunn & Dunn, 1978). The model suggests that all 5 aspects play a significant role in successful student learning. Dunn and Dunn emphasize the importance of learning about students’ preferences and adapting teaching according to their personal needs. Kolb’s Experiential Model
David Kolb developed another learning style theory model in 1984. Kolb developed a 4 stage model of learning that combined experience, perception, cognition, and behavior. He believed learners were assimilators, convergers, accommodators, or divergers (Kaya, 2009). Kolb’s model initiated the Learning Style Inventory which is an assessment used to determine individual learning styles (Kolb, 1984). Kolb believed that it was vital for people to learn through experience. His model, similarly to Dunn, stressed that each learner has a learning style and that teaching style should match the style of the learner. Howard Gardner’s Multiple Intelligence Model
Howard Gardner developed the idea of multiple intelligences in 1983. He believed that intelligence should be categorized into different modalities, rather than...