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The Myth of "Learning Styles"

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The Myth of "Learning Styles"

A popular theory that some people learn better visually or aurally keeps getting debunked.

The Atlantic,

5 min read
5 take-aways
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Although you may prefer a particular learning style, you won’t actually retain material better if you use it.

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  • Innovative
  • Applicable
  • Eye Opening


If you came of age in the late 1980s or later, chances are that you’ve been told that you are one of four types of learners: “visual, auditory, reading” or “kinesthetic.” Yet as Olga Khazan reports in The Atlantic, recent studies don’t support the conclusion that students necessarily learn better by using their preferred style. Lifelong learners everywhere will find Khazan’s conclusions eye-opening.


The notion that people have different “learning styles” is now quite widespread. By 2014, around 90% of teachers in various countries subscribed to it. In the early 1990s, Neil Fleming – a school inspector in New Zealand – wondered whether the way instructors presented information had an impact on how many students they reached. He developed the VARK questionnaire that divided students into visual, auditory, reading and kinesthetic learners. His approach was simple and intuitive, and many people turned to the VARK system to find out how to maximize their learning potential...

About the Author

Olga Khazan is a staff writer at The Atlantic and covers health, gender and science.

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    A. A. 3 years ago
    Excellent little paper.... There was an entire industry built around the four learning types. Strange that it didn't prove to be valid. I have always believed that a good learning course / curriculum should have a melange of all four types plus any other if feasible.

    However, a word of caution, this should not lead to intuitive models getting the wrong end of the stick. That would be like going against the philosophical foundations of modern thinking.