Busting the Myth of Learning Styles

Wednesday, September 27, 2023
12:00 PM - 1:00 PM


Center for Teaching Excellence
Thomas Cooper Library, Room L511

This session is being delivered in a face-to-face format. You'll need to come to the offices of the Center for Teaching Excellence to attend. There is not a virtual option available to attend this presentation.


You may have heard a student comment, “I’m a visual learner so I prefer to watch videos,” which you immediately recognize as a description of their “learning style”. The idea of learning styles holds that by matching instruction to students’ preferred mode of learning or media preferences, students learn better, and there are scores of frameworks categorizing learning styles (visual/auditory/kinesthetic, imaginative vs. analytic, sensing vs. intuition, etc.). But did you know that the idea of learning styles has been definitively debunked in cognitive psychology and neuroscience research literature? The myth of learning styles has been persistent in education for numerous reasons, primarily because for decades, research findings on learning have been incorrectly interpreted, and many practitioners simply don’t know the science that disproves it. Despite the intuitive appeal, there is little to no empirical evidence that learning styles are real.

So as an instructor, what does this mean for your teaching techniques and students’ learning abilities? In this workshop, you will learn about some of the more common learning style models and their fallacies, and apply a model to your own preferences that better illustrates our understanding of student learning abilities (Felder and Silverman, 1988). We’ll also explore some of the cognitive neuroscience behind how students learn, along with techniques and recommendations for being more inclusive in your teaching style to address all abilities, not just specific “learning styles”. A broader teaching approach is needed to improve learning outcomes, one that invites students to reflect on their learning, rather than narrow their style down (Ambrose et. al, 2010).

Participants will be asked to complete in advance several “Learning Style Inventories” (i.e. quizzes) prior to the event in order to discuss participants’ results, perceptions, and experiences with them.



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Michelle L. Hardee
Program Manager, Graduate TA Training
Center for Teaching Excellence

Michelle L. Hardee is the program manager for graduate student teaching assistant training and professional development in the Center for Teaching Excellence. She received her Ph.D. in marine science from the University of South Carolina and a master's from Grice Marine Laboratory at the College of Charleston. Throughout her 19-year teaching career, Michelle has been actively involved in marine science education and teacher training. She taught throughout her graduate program, as an instructor at Coastal Carolina University and as an adjunct professor of geology at the College of Charleston and is currently an instructor in the Marine Science Program at UofSC. She is a staunch advocate of all graduate students and of the critical need that GTAs develop pedagogical knowledge and professional skills for any future career pathway.