I'd still love to supervise a comparative study into the use of learning styles vs use of astrology or phrenology to pick a teaching strategy. I strongly suspect there'd be no significant difference. It would be equally good fun to invent a plausible but totally unfounded learning style theory and compare that. Maybe something based on the big 5 personality types so that it seems sciencey.
Your comment on personalization is spot on. In some ways it would actually be worse if it worked. Even if a system does increase the speed/efficiency of learning as a result (as measured in tests) the assumption that the teacher-specified outcome is the one and only point of the learning process describes pretty much everything that is wrong with our educational systems today. Not a recipe for cognitive flexibility, not transformative, not life-changing, just a better form of indoctrination.
Jon Dron March 15, 2017 - 10:18am
I think we could get a grant for a phrenology study. Surely, it will be resurrected as a new fad in education any day now.
So, you are saying indoctrination is a bad thing?
Gerald Ardito March 15, 2017 - 12:35pm
Interesting article Jon. I can believe that 80% of teachers in the UK and the Netherlands believe that student learn best in their prefered style. (I wonder what the percentage would be in Canada.)
I used various learning style inventories for quite a few Septembers for a couple of reasons. They gave me a chance to learn a lot about students and their approaches to things like following directions in a way that engaged them - who doesn't like thinking about themselves? It also gave me the opportunity to introduce the concept of metacognition and using strategies for learning. I was also curious about the whole idea and noticed that although I had inventories that were designed to be age appropriate, students didn't develop preferences until they were 10 or 11. Until then their profiles were flat.
In the end, if they prompt teachers to accept learning strategies that are different from their own and encourage students to think about how they learn, there is some good in them, but they're a long way from science.
Mary McNabb March 15, 2017 - 10:30pm
Thanks so much for your comments about my presentation. The feedback I've received from you and our other classmates will make my project a lot more rigourous.
To answer your procedural question, I will do an online DACUM (the junior/entry-level psychometrician) with a group of 6 experts. I will note and report on what worked and what didn't. As you know, DACUM is a pretty reliable process. If the result of the online DACUM is not comparable (number of competencies and tasks) to a F2F DACUM, I suspect the causes will be with me, as the facilitator, or the online process/tools, or a combination of both. I will make changes to the my facilitatin technique and/or the online process/tools in a second, related DACUM (senior psychometrician) with the same group of experts.
This is not ideal. But I believe it will provide enough information as an exploratory study to "plant a stake in the ground" from which further research may be done.
Angie Parkes March 6, 2017 - 1:09pm