Lecture: Learning Styles: Narrator: Listen to part of a lecture in an educational psychology class. Professor: Some of you may have heard about learning styles, the idea that there are different ways to teach or learn a material, new information, and these are not equally effective for every learner. Different learners prefer different ways of learning. For examples, a visual learner might want to see the vocabulary words written down or be shown a picture or a chart. An auditory learner would want to hear the new word being used. A kinesthetic, or physical learner, would prefer to physically interact with the material in some way like maybe moving around a set of cards with new vocabulary words written on them. And from this idea of learning style, something called the meshing hypothesis has developed. The idea behind the meshing hypothesis is that learning takes place most effectively when it's matched to the individual student's preferred learning style and so if this is the case, it would make sense to match how teach our students to how each one prefers to learn, right? The meshing hypothesis has influenced a lot of schools in the United States which have spent a lot of money to determine how individual students prefer to learn and also to purchase materials for teaching these students by targeting their individual learning style. But is there any evidence to support the hypothesis? Well, teachers do tell lots of anecdotes, stories, about how their students learn best. But as for solid evidence from scientific studies, well, a recent journal article concludes it doesn't amount to much. The article was written by four psychologists who looked at the experimental research that has been done on the meshing hypothesis. They wanted to see how well students did when the learning style of each student was identified, and then all the students were randomly divided into classes where the teaching is based on one particular learning style or another. The only really valid proof for the meshing hypothesis, they argued, would be to give the same test to all the students at the end of the course and see whether students of the class that matched the learning style generally outperformed the students in the class that didn't match the learning style. As it turned out, sometimes performance matched up with the student's learning style and sometimes it didn't. So based on these results, the psychologists argued that there's no point in trying to adapt teaching styles to match the learning style of each student which by the way, has big implications for the push to purchase expensive educational products that target individual learning style. Instead, and this is the key I think, the common thread in the research was that all students tend to do better when the instructional technique was tailored to match the material they were learning. What I mean is, let's say you're a science teacher and you're going to teach your students about molecular structure. You could give your student something to read, or you could design an activity where your students actually build models of molecules. If you accept the meshing hypothesis, you might try to present separate lessons to fit the distinct learning style of different students, but research shows that most students, even those who consider themselves visual or auditory learners, will do best with this particular subject matter if they build models. Interesting, huh? And I'd say, a warning for us to be a bit more critical before we blindly adopt the latest trend. On the other hand, the psychologists booked experiments but not teachers' anecdotes and observations. Teachers can directly observe the results that their instructions have on students and some have some have said that they do see a difference in students' learning when they the teachers match how they teach to how the students learn. So, I have to wonder, if there's not potentially valuable information here. Information that didn't get the consideration it deserves. In any case, it all comes back to the question of what role the meshing hypothesis should play in how we teach our students. Even some experts who totally believe in learning styles agree it's not a good idea to try to tailor teaching to each student. On the other hand, some research has shown that when instruction about learning style is part of the training they receive, teachers do tend to value their approach and their students do benefit.