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How Have Ideas of Learning Styles Changed?

Since the 1960s, the idea that people learn differently and retain information when taught in a specific manner has become popular in the education community. Many resources tout the advantages of teaching students based on their learning style by using assessments. However, even though this theory is commonplace throughout education, research suggests different learning styles might not exist.

If learning styles don't exist how we think they do, how can this impact curriculum development and instruction practices? An online Master of Science in Curriculum and Instruction with a Specialization in Educational Leadership from Texas A&M International University can help address questions such as these by examining contemporary research and instructional practices while learning to implement curriculum and teaching strategies.

New Viewpoints Regarding Learning Styles

While good instructors understand how to appeal to the various learning preferences of their students, they should also note new research that suggests individuals do not have as distinct learning styles as we originally believed.

The most famous research was the 2009 study published in the Psychological Science in the Public Interest journal. The study states that people "express preferences about how they prefer information to be presented to them. There is also plentiful evidence arguing that people differ in the degree to which they have some fairly specific aptitudes for different kinds of thinking and for processing different types of information. However, we found virtually no evidence for ... validating the educational applications of learning styles." 

Another study tested whether comprehension improved in subjects when matched to their learning style and found no evidence to support that theory. Although there are proponents that heavily support the concept of learning styles, there is no hard evidence to prove their existence. In a 2017 study, there was no relationship between a subject's learning preference and performance on a comprehension test.

The Future of Curriculum Development

Instead of focusing on learning styles or student preferences, some educators teach according to the content and what works the best to effectively communicate information in a particular context. For example, certain topics are explained better with visual representations than others. It makes the most sense to teach art history or architecture with photographs and diagrams, and it would be challenging to learn these subjects without visual aids. Other researchers suggest that it is more beneficial to strengthen students' weaknesses rather than simply teaching to perceived strengths. This process incorporates different styles of teaching based on the content and encourages teachers to collaborate for improved student achievement.

Pursuing an Online Master of Science in Curriculum and Instruction

The 100% online coursework from Texas A&M International University can strengthen students' communication, decision-making and problem-solving skills to give students an advantage in today's rapidly changing field of education. This program emphasizes practical applications of advanced theories of research, pedagogy, coaching and assessment to improve the learning of all students. Students in this master's program will learn to ensure culturally competent teaching and learning, use evidence-based teaching practices and analyze current trends to develop curriculum and instruction models.

Specialization course options include Curriculum Development for Continuous Improvement, Decision Making in Curriculum Development and Ethics and Curriculum Implementation.

Learn more about Texas A&M International University's online Master of Science in Curriculum and Instruction with a Specialization in Educational Leadership program.


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