Session Type

Presentation

Start Date

6-7-2011 4:00 PM

Keywords

misconceptions, assumptions, evidence-based teaching, educational development, learning preferences

Primary Threads

Teaching and Learning Science

Abstract

As we know with students, unseating misconceptions and deeply held personal myths is a challenging but necessary part of learning. As scientists, we are accustomed to questioning hypotheses and evaluating evidence. However, as science educators, it can be difficult to recognize our own assumptions about teaching/learning, and how they may be affecting our practise.

In this session, we review the literature, weigh the evidence, and have a directed discussion of misconceptions surrounding learning styles (i.e., the idea that some students learn significantly better visually vs. kinaesthetically, etc.) This idea is prevalent not only among faculty, but also graduate students and undergraduates, and students may feel that their needs are not being met. However, the concept of preferred learning styles (as defined above) is not supported by empirical research.

Possible questions for debate/discussion:

1. What’s the harm in propagating the idea of ‘learning styles’?

  • How does the idea of "Learning Styles" shape faculty approaches to teaching? Evaluation of teaching for tenure/promotion? Would the time and effort of faculty who try to accommodate preferred learning styles be better put towards more effective strategies known to promote increased student learning?
  • How do these misconceptions shape student expectations and affect student perceptions of teaching (which often surface on evaluations)?

2. What strategies are most effective for exploring the topic with colleagues (faculty/TAs)? Students?

Attendees will gain knowledge of the literature surrounding learning styles. As well, attendees will be able to respond to individuals who persist in promoting the idea of learning styles.


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Jul 6th, 4:00 PM

Science Education Mythbusters: Challenging “Learning styles”

As we know with students, unseating misconceptions and deeply held personal myths is a challenging but necessary part of learning. As scientists, we are accustomed to questioning hypotheses and evaluating evidence. However, as science educators, it can be difficult to recognize our own assumptions about teaching/learning, and how they may be affecting our practise.

In this session, we review the literature, weigh the evidence, and have a directed discussion of misconceptions surrounding learning styles (i.e., the idea that some students learn significantly better visually vs. kinaesthetically, etc.) This idea is prevalent not only among faculty, but also graduate students and undergraduates, and students may feel that their needs are not being met. However, the concept of preferred learning styles (as defined above) is not supported by empirical research.

Possible questions for debate/discussion:

1. What’s the harm in propagating the idea of ‘learning styles’?

  • How does the idea of "Learning Styles" shape faculty approaches to teaching? Evaluation of teaching for tenure/promotion? Would the time and effort of faculty who try to accommodate preferred learning styles be better put towards more effective strategies known to promote increased student learning?
  • How do these misconceptions shape student expectations and affect student perceptions of teaching (which often surface on evaluations)?

2. What strategies are most effective for exploring the topic with colleagues (faculty/TAs)? Students?

Attendees will gain knowledge of the literature surrounding learning styles. As well, attendees will be able to respond to individuals who persist in promoting the idea of learning styles.