The myth of learning style

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Introduction

Realizing that the concept of varying learning styles is a myth shocks most people. The media and the education sector promote and popularize the myth based on limited information. In this study, its focus is on scrutinizing shortcomings of a research paper promoting the myth, as well as, an article refuting the myth. Both the paper and the articles present very convincing arguments. The evidence presented in the research paper contains research bias and its presentation is technical. Conversely, the article provides objective, coherent evidence and uses rhetorical questions to present it with a view to refute the myth.

Researcher Bias

The research paper begins by acknowledging the cultural diversity constantly witnessed in classrooms in the 21st century. It continues to outline the behavioral difference of students from various cultures. For instance, it states that Asian students portray a quiet and reflective demeanor that seems odd in the highly participative American classroom (Joy & Kolb, 2009). The paper attributes the demeanor to the high power distance that characterizes most of the Asian cultures. Similarly, based on the high uncertainty avoidance present in some cultures, some individuals approach problematic issues in a cautious and systematic manner at workplaces. Individuals from low uncertainty avoidance cultures have a trial and error approach to problem resolution at work (Joy & Kolb, 2009). The research paper’s introduction highlights these facts based on the psychology and anthropology research of the Hofstede framework of cultural dimensions. The introduction creates some misapprehension for the readers based on the researchers’ bias. Hofstede’s framework of cultural dimensions is acknowledged as legitimate research in the fields of psychology and anthropology. Consequently, any individual reading the introduction already opines that culture will affect the learning process as it does other aspects of life. Therefore, the reader is already inclined to believe the writers’ hypotheses without adequate evidence or experimentation to support the hypothesis.

Being Technical

The researchers use the Kolb Learning Style Inventory (KLSI) as an instrument to measure the extent to which persons present diverse learning styles. The Experiential learning process is also a tool to establish a learner’s position in regard to the learning cycle (reflecting, experiencing, acting and thinking). The researchers engage a technical process where they attempt to analyze the sample using the learning style and the learning sample. The KLSI uses a forced choice format to derive the relative preferences of the dialect modes. The range of score combination is -36 to +36 (Joy & Kolb, 2009). The score is attained by subtracting or adding the cumulative score of CE (Concrete Experience), RO (Reflective Observation), AC (Abstract Conceptualization) and AE (Active Experimentation) (Joy & Kolb, 2009). In a, experiential learning cycle, where a score between

  • AE and CE results in accommodating
  • CE and RO results in diverging
  • RO and AC results in Assimilating
  • AC and AE results in converging

Consequently, an AC-CE shows the preference for abstractness over concreteness while an AE-RO indicates the preference for action over reflection (Joy & Kolb, 2009). Placed in this context, the cultural values in Hofstede’s cultural dimension demonstrate how different cultures affect the learning process. For instance, concerning gender egalitarianism, abstract conceptualization over concrete experience prevails in a high gender egalitarian culture. The technical presentation of the research design and analysis becomes challenging to some readers to follow. Being technical makes the paper appear well thought out and constructed despite the fact that it perpetrates a neuroscience myth. The measures applied in the analysis remain based on empirical evidence as opposed to an experimental methodology. For instance, both models are based on the assumption that using the right teaching method for the right learner leads to the success of the learner. However, despite the teaching method or individual learning process, each student has a unique learning ability. Therefore, even if a group professor used the correct teaching method for Asian or American students inclined to a specific learning process, there would still be students that fail. Consequently, while the technical formula used in the analysis makes the assumption that cultural differences impact learning style, further research is required to make a solid conclusion. However, with learning style being a neuroscience myth, the theory will be challenging to prove.

Sample

According to the sample section, the publishers, Hay Group Transforming Learning provided access to the data of KLSI online users from various countries. While this database offered information on the education level, gender, age group, country of birth and residence, it failed to provide adequate representation from Sub-Saharan Africa, Middle East and Nordic Europe (Joy & Kolb, 2009). The countries failed to attain the minimum requirement for the cluster being analyzed (Joy & Kolb, 2009). The misrepresentation of Sub-Saharan Africa and the Middle East creates a gap cross sectional representation in the sampling (Joy & Kolb, 2009). Furthermore, Sub-Saharan Africa and Middle East are demographics with extremely engraved cultural populations. Consequently, excluding them from the study means that a significant amount of data was excluded from consideration in the empirical study. Additionally, online users provide a weak sample for cultural evaluation concerning learning. In developing countries such as Brazil, Guatemala, South Africa, Philippines, Taiwan and other countries used in the sample, online users are probably high income city dwellers with modern perceptions and limited cultural inhibitions. Individuals with high cultural inhibitions are concentrated in the countries’ rural areas. Therefore, they fail to provide a satisfactory sample for cultural considerations.

Article

On the other hand, the news paper article is a refutation of neuroscience myths. It provides a disclaimer for individuals that continue to believe in information based on response bias, flattery and the representation of opinions as facts. According to the article, the much perpetrated information regarding the person preference of visual, auditory or kinesthetic cues by students in a myth (Goldhill, 2016). The article provides coherent and sufficient evidence on how the articles discussing the learning style encourage readers to believe in the myths. According to the article, the writers present opinions as fact in the articles. It cautions that some writers do not intentionally mislead the readers (Goldhill, 2016).

The writers oversimplify the research provided by neuroscience researchers and present in a positive view. The positive view fosters wishful thinking leading to other empirical researchers to lean towards the conclusion without rigorous evidence. The article continues to refute the research provided by indicating that it stems from “uninformed interpretations of genuine scientific facts (Goldhill, 2016).” Learning myth assumptions fail to account for brain interconnectivity and focus on the functions of each brain organ. Consequently, the researchers inadequately create the learning methods based on visual, auditory and sensory processes of the brain. The article uses rhetorical questions in its presentation of information, as well as, objectivity and coherence in its evidence.

Conclusion

The research paper and the article both provide compelling information. The research paper provides information in a manner believable to most readers. Many individuals prefer to think that the problem is the teaching process, the education system, or the difference in learning style that influences learning outcomes. However, the article proves that the learning style is a neuroscience myth.

Did you like this sample?
  1. Goldhill, O. (2016). The Concept of different learning styles is one of the greatest neuroscience myths. Quartz Media. Retrieved from <https://qz.com/585143/the-concept-of-different-learning-styles-is-one-of-the-greatest-neuroscience-myths/>
  2. Joy, S. & Kolb, D., A. (2009). Are there cultural differences in learning style? International Journal of Intercultural Relations, 33, 69-85. Elseivier.
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