Teaching and learning styles are the behaviors or actions that teachers and learners exhibit in the learning exchange. Teaching behaviors reflect the beliefs and values that teachers hold about the learner's role in the exchange (Heimlich and Norland 2002). Learners' behaviors provide insight into the ways learners perceive, interact with, and respond to the environment in which learning occurs (Ladd and Ruby 1999). Over the years, questions about the congruence of teaching and learning styles and the potential for flexibility in their use have surfaced: Do the teaching styles of teachers match students' learning styles? Can individuals learn effectively when instructional delivery does not match their preferred learning style? Can teaching and learning styles be adapted or modified? These and similar questions are explored in this Myths and Realities.
Do Teachers Teach the Way They've Been Taught or Learn Best?
"Research supports the concept that most teachers teach the way they learn" (Stitt-Gohdes 2001, p. 136). Since a great many teachers have experienced academic success in learning environments that were instructor centered and relied heavily on lecture, it is understandable that their preferred style of teaching, at least initially, would be to repeat "what worked with them." Typically these teachers are field independent, that is, they are more content oriented and prefer to use more formal teaching methods, favoring less student involvement and more structured class activities (Hayes and Allinson 1997; Pithers 2001). This style works especially well for field-dependent students who want to be told what they should learn and given the resources to acquire the specified body of knowledge or skills. This may be why most training is provided through instructor-led classrooms in the corporate environment (Caudron 2000). This strategy can be effective when employees are... [continues]
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