One of my favorite bloggers (Cathy Moore) recently busted some of these myths, and she cited a great PopSci article that presented evidence, or a lack thereof, in support. If you’ve ever had the thoughts above or wondered why it was so darn hard to accommodate the different learning styles, I encourage you to check out the blog and the article for some food for thought.
The main takeaway is that focusing a course on a particular learning style (i.e, visual or auditory) won’t affect the way we learn. And we use our whole brain, so focusing training on the “left-brain” or “right-brain” won’t help either. The PopSci article points out that “That’s not to suggest that everything should be taught in the exact same way. The best way to teach something might depend on the nature of the material itself. For example, it would be hard to teach geometry without diagrams or reading and writing without words.”
What likely affects how we learn? Our experiences and our strengths. We can’t teach to every one of those. So what to do? Continue to understand your audience (beyond learning styles) and the objectives you want to accomplish with the training course… then develop training based on that. With that focus, your courses will be successful, not to mention, leave you (and me) more sane.
I feel I must add that I am in no way saying that the narration, images and/or text used in your courses aren’t important. They’re extremely important. And it’s not bad to think about learning styles. My point is that trying to label a learner with a specific learning style and then developing with that as your focus may not be the best direction. Let the material and the desired outcome of the training be your guide for design decisions.