The great misconception of learning styles

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"And then it got me to think, well, what’s going on here? And I realised that because they were different occasions I was thinking about learning different kinds of things or in different contexts.

“And of course you expect someone to learn differently in different situations. If I am studying for a mathematics course than that’s distinct from studying an order to buy my next car,” he said.

He told HRM that the idea that one can have a learning style that’s universally applicable to any kind of challenge that it throws up is a rather odd assumption.

Rather, his view is that what education is about is enabling people to learn appropriately depending on the circumstances that they find themselves in.

This means that we need to help people become more adaptable, more flexible and do whatever is appropriate given the situation they need to address. 

“The other thing is that they have got this kind of superficial appeal where they are a very simple instrument you could administer someone,” he said.

“It gives you something that looks scientific, it looks as if it is giving you an insight into yourself. It’s like taking a quiz in a magazine - it’s a fun thing but don’t take it too seriously.”

Boud emphasised that he is not arguing that different people might not have different learning styles.

“If you are completing one of these instruments in order to illustrate the fact that people learn differently that’s fine.

“However, to use it for the things that the people proposing these things want to use it for is probably going too far.”

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