Current Reading

This blog is primarily for me to blog my responses to books that I'm reading. Sometimes I blog about other stuff too, though.

I'm currently reading The Demon in Democracy: Totalitarian Temptations in Free Societies by Polish philosopher Ryszard Legutko.

Word cloud

Word cloud

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Myths about learning styles and digital natives

Inside Higher Ed has a nice essay on the helplessness of students, the most extreme example being a student who emailed a professor to ask for the name of the author of a book.  (The student had a copy of the book, and the author's name was on the front cover.)  In the comments section we got to talking about how this helplessness contrasts with the myth of the "Digital Native", the information-savvy student who doesn't need anything traditional in education because they have the world's information at their fingertips.  One commenter pointed me to an article titled Do Learners Really Know Best? Urban Legends in Education.

I don't have time to give a detailed response to the many excellent points in that article, but I will note that it is basically a literature survey that debunks the myth that today's students are information-savvy, great at multi-tasking, and attuned to their own unique learning styles.  I particularly appreciated this cynical observation:
Thousands of articles and books have been written on learning styles and their application in education. Furthermore, a lucrative commercial industry has been set up around (a) selling measurement instruments meant to help teachers diagnose their students’ learning styles and (b) holding workshops and conferences meant to provide information and training to teachers on how to align their teaching to the learning styles of their students. Yet there are fundamental problems with regard to both the diagnosis of learning styles and the alignment of instruction to these styles.
Yep.  The more hype and enthusiasm you see around something in education, the more likely that there's a vendor or workshop presenter hunting for cash.

Interestingly, one of the authors of this article (Kirschner) is also an author on a lovely piece of heresy from the previous decade.