Teachers and pupils don’t always agree on learning styles

A study published in Frontiers in Education investigates whether there is an association between pupils’ self-reported preferred learning styles and teachers’ evaluation of each pupil’s learning style, and whether teachers’ assessments are informed by their pupils’ intellectual ability.

The term “learning styles” is used to account for differences in the way that individuals learn, and the idea that pupils learn better if teachers can tailor their teaching to a pupil’s preferred style of learning, often described as either visual, auditory or kinesthetic.

In the study conducted by Marietta Papadatou-Pastou and colleagues, 199 fifth and sixth grade pupils from five schools in Athens, Greece, chose which was their preferred learning style (visual, auditory or kinesthetic). They also completed a short IQ test (the Raven’s matrices). Their teachers were asked to identify each of their pupils’ preferred learning style. Each pupil’s learning style was judged by one teacher.

There was no significant correlation between the teachers’ judgements of their pupils’ preferred learning styles and the pupils’ own assessment. There was also no association between the teachers’ judgments of their pupils’ learning style and the students’ intellectual ability, suggesting that the teachers were not using intellectual ability as a proxy for learning style.

In Best Evidence in Brief, we have previously reported research showing that there is no practical utility in knowing pupils’ learning styles. This latest research reinforces this conclusion.

Source: The learning styles educational neuromyth: Lack of agreement between teachers’ judgments, self-assessment, and students’ intelligence (November 2018), Frontiers in Education

A whole-school approach to tackling bullying

An article in the July issue of the Scandinavian Journal of Educational Research describes the impact of an evidence-based framework designed to help schools tackle bullying. Based on research on both bullying and educational effectiveness, the framework is a whole-school approach that considers three elements:

  1. The school policy for teaching;
  2. The school learning environment, including behaviour outside the classroom, interaction between teachers, and collaboration with stakeholders including parents and psychologists; and
  3. School evaluation.

A total of 52 schools in Cyprus and Greece were randomly allocated to experimental and control groups. Experimental schools were offered training and support to develop strategies and action plans for confronting and reducing bullying based on the data on what was occurring in their schools. The intervention was implemented for approximately eight months.

The authors found that the approach had a direct effect on improving school factors and both direct and indirect effects on reducing bullying. In both countries, schools that used the approach reduced the extent to which their pupils were being victimised and reduced the extent of bullying compared to the control schools. However, the article acknowledges that the effect of the intervention may partly be attributed to differences in the effort put in by schools in the two groups with regard to implementing their strategies to reduce bullying.

Source: Improving the School Learning Environment to Reduce Bullying: An Experimental Study (2014), Scandinavian Journal of Educational Research , 58(4).