Thursday, September 09, 2010

everything you know about learning is wrong

Fascinating. Part of the reason I like this article, admittedly, is it validates my long-held theory that all this "what type of learner are you?" stuff I keep encountering in my classes is pop psychology bulls**t:
Take the notion that children have specific learning styles, that some are “visual learners” and others are auditory; some are “left-brain” students, others “right-brain.” In a recent review of the relevant research, published in the journal Psychological Science in the Public Interest, a team of psychologists found almost zero support for such ideas. “The contrast between the enormous popularity of the learning-styles approach within education and the lack of credible evidence for its utility is, in our opinion, striking and disturbing,” the researchers concluded.

Almost zero.

More difficult to deal with is the revelation that mixing up studying venues, rather than using the same spot every day, improves retention. I did a fair bit of this in college, taking study sessions wherever I could get them because of an unpredictable social life and work schedule, but for many students this is going to be a problem due to the importance of establishing routines to maintain discipline. People often set up a particular place and time to study because studying sucks, and things that suck are easier to keep doing once you've established a routine. Furthermore, even in college people tend to regiment their other daily activities pretty tightly, so there will be a tendency to want to do that with studying as well. We are creatures of habit.

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