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Learning Modalities | Nicholas Meier
"There is a common belief in education that knowing one’s, or one’s students’, preferred learning modality is important or at least helpful in designing learning strategies for ourselves or them. When I do a search of learning modalities I find dozens of articles in educational journals about how to use this information and why it is important. The interesting thing is that the empirical evidence does not support the claim, despite its popularity. And this lack of support is not for lack of investigation.

First I want to be clear on what learning modalities are and are not. They are basically the receptive modes of taking in the world, of learning—most commonly aural (hearing,), visual (seeing), and kinesthetic (feeling, touching). These are not to be confused with learning styles (of which there are many versions) such as field dependent or independent, liking to work alone or with others, risk-avoidant or risk-taker, introverted, extroverted. Nor is it to be confused with Gardner’s seven or eight Intelligences, which are ways of understanding, and really more the active side than the receptive side.

We believe in our modality preference for the same reason humans believe many things that are not true. It just seems so intuitively true. We all have a sense of how we best take in information. Also, it is so often repeated – and even accepted by experts – that it must be true. There are lots of tests designed by psychologists to measure this and help you figure out your strength. When I first took psychology in the 1980s this dichotomy between the common sense belief and the evidence was pointed out by one of my professors. Even then it had been studied and found to be false. In the 30 years since then, the literature has continued to pour out on how to teach to modalities, and the evidence that such teaching does not actually enhance learning has also continued, and continued to be ignored by the practitioner side of the field. Special education teachers might say, “Well true for regular education, but in special education these differences are real.” However, most of the research is with special education (as are most of the advise articles), and it is just as false in special education as in regular education.

It is a fact that in humans it is the visual area of the brain that is really the biggest—it is just the way that humans have evolved to take in the world. This is true of everyone unless they are blind or brain damaged in some way. As social beings, however, we also interact with other humans to a large extent though hearing. It is our verbal communication with others that to a large extent fulfills our social needs. Many people claim that, although sight is more central to our taking in the word, being deaf is worse, because it isolates us more than blindness.

And whenever I ask about how people like to learn (not meaning modalities) virtually everyone says “Oh, I’m one of those people that needs to be active.” We are all kinesthetic, we all learn though doing, touching. And again, the humans have evolved to actually need, desire, touch. There is a famous experiment where a baby monkey will choose the artificial mother that provides soft embrace to the one that provides milk.

What I have discussed is that all of these modalities are central to being human. What the research has shown is that when you use all modalities all learners learn better! This is really a boon for teachers, since instead of feeling like you need to test each of your students for their strengths and then designing separate lessons for each type learner, now what you are best off doing is designing lessons that utilize all modalities. The more modalities you use, the more all students will do better. For all students relying on just one or two is exactly that—less.

I give the example of my getting directions. I could just hear it (or read it) (auditory) “Turn right here, turn left there….” Or I cold look at on a map (visual). But getting both helps me remember it even better. And then what I like to do, to really get it down pat, is stand up and point the direction of each turn, in turn, maybe even turning my body as well, as I go over it (kinesthetic).

So take heart, the truth in this case makes out teaching easier, not harder.

As the author of the textbook I am using for my current course on learning theory puts it, “These differences can be reliably measured, but research has not identified the effects of teaching to these styles; certainly presenting information in multiple modalities might be useful” (p.129)."
nicholasmeier  learning  howwelearn  modalities  learningmodalities  learningstyles  howardgardner  multipleintelligences  humans  2015 
march 2015 by robertogreco
The Myth of Learning Styles - Finding Common Ground - Education Week
"Last year, Howard Gardner wrote a guest blog for Valerie Strauss called Multiple Intelligences Are Not Learning Styles. In the blog, Dr. Gardner wrote,
"one unanticipated consequence has driven me to distraction--and that's the tendency of many people, including persons whom I cherish, to credit me with the notion of 'learning styles' or to collapse 'multiple intelligences' with 'learning styles.' It's high time to relieve my pain and to set the record straight."

So why the blog? After all, Howard Gardner posted this last year.

The reality is that learning styles is still a widely held belief in schools. Perhaps it makes teachers feel that everyone can learn...which we know they can... but it also creates an easy fix for students who struggle. There really aren't easy fixes. Students, whether they struggle or not, need a multi-modal approach.

The Science of How We Learn

Enter John Hattie and Gregory Yates. In their new book, Visible Learning and the Science of How We Learn (2014), Hattie and Yates go further to debunk the learning styles myth. Hattie and Yates wrote, "We are all visual learners, and we all are auditory learners, not just some of us. Laboratory studies reveal that we all learn when the inputs we experience are multi-modal or conveyed through different media."

Hattie and Yates go on to write,
"Claims such that 'some students learn from words, but others from images' are incorrect, as all students learn most effectively through linking images with words. These effects become especially strong when the words and images are made meaningful through accessing prior knowledge. Differences between students in learning are determined strongly by their prior knowledge, by the patterns they can recognise, and not by their learning style"

In the end

In his guest blog, Howard Gardner went on to offer some better suggestions as we all move forward away from the learning style approach. He wrote,
• Individualize your teaching as much as possible. Instead of "one size fits all," learn as much as you can about each student, and teach each person in ways that they find comfortable and learn effectively. Of course this is easier to accomplish with smaller classes. But 'apps' make it possible to individualize for everyone.
• Pluralize your teaching. Teach important materials in several ways, not just one (e.g. through stories, works of art, diagrams, role play). In this way you can reach students who learn in different ways. Also, by presenting materials in various ways, you convey what it means to understand something well. If you can only teach in one way, your own understanding is likely to be thin.
• Drop the term "styles" It will confuse others and it won't help either you or your students.

For many years, educators, including me, were under the false notion that there were learning styles. It's harmful if we box students into one way of learning, because that creates a one-size-fits-all mentality. However, offering different ways of learning is really helpful to students because they need to take in information in a variety of ways."
learningstyles  multipleintelligences  education  learning  howardgardner  johnhattie  gregoryyates  2014 
may 2014 by robertogreco
Exploring Multiple Intelligences
This quiz from edutopia is intended to allow the participant to explore their strengths and intelligences to think about how they might learn best or see where they might practice to improve. For me, it was fun to see where I fall in terms of multiple intelligences and think about how this might affect my teaching practice. I think this quiz is only really helpful if we take it and then look at our results in conjunction with reflection or other discussions of multiple intelligences in the classroom. (Therefore, I'd also like to add in this link discussing the history of multiple intelligence theory I think it is helpful to think about lessons in terms of multiple intelligence theory because it means that I can reach many learners in ways that are fun for me to plan and ways that create well rounded lessons. Edutopia also featured a school which is centered on MI theory and allows students to rotate to explore different intelligences with teachers who know this theory well and who try to integrate different learning styles into their work. One teacher focuses on "creative movement" but uses movement to teach other subjects as well. (

I think it is important to think about different learning styles for students but also understand your own natural biases going in. I might currently be more comfortable teaching reading, writing, and art but I can push myself to improve my abilities and understanding in other areas. I can also push myself to integrate multiple disciplines and methods of teaching so that I can reach as many different students as possible.

I know that I added a number of links in this post, but I promise they are all very connected on the edutopia website!
multipleintelligences  creativethinking  connectedk12  @yoteach14 
march 2014 by connectedk12
Steven Berlin Johnson: Instead of building cathedrals in learning, we need to learn to build cathedrals | Creativity, Imagination, and Innovation in Education Symposium
"“Collaboration between different intelligences is the hallmark of innovative spaces,” he remarked. But it wasn’t always easy for Johnson, who has an undergraduate degree in semiotics from Brown University and a graduate degree in English Literature from Columbia, to see how science and the humanities could be entwined. It wasn’t until he was exposed to the work of former Columbia Professor Franco Moretti that he realized bridges could be built joining the two.

Moretti gained fame for controversially applying quantitative scientific methods to the humanities. Johnson mentioned reading Moretti’s Signs Taken for Wonders, and the mind-blowing impact the professor’s use of Darwinian techniques to analyze literature had on him. It was the first time he saw scientific procedures being employed to evaluate literature.

From that moment on, Johnson began researching iconic innovators."
cathedralsoflearning  everythingbadisgoodforyou  gaming  games  multidisciplinarythinking  connectivesyntheticintelligence  connectiveintelligence  multidisciplinary  interdisciplinary  crossdisciplinary  generalists  specialization  interconnectivity  patterns  conenctions  innovation  multipleintelligences  diversity  problemsolving  systemsthinking  parenting  videogames  teaching  schools  collaboration  gutenberg  crosspollination  feathers  exaptation  devonthink  evolution  stephenjaygould  commonplacebooks  creativity  darwin  francomoretti  semiotics  hunches  learning  2011  stevenjohnson  charlesdarwin  interconnected  from delicious
july 2012 by robertogreco
The Great Animal Orchestra - Water
Bernie Krause is one of the world's experts in natural sound, and here we listen through Krause's ears as he collects the sounds of purring jaguars, snapping shrimp, cracking glaciers--and the roar of the wild. It is an intensely personal narrative of life as it hits the ears, and of the planet's deeply connected natural sounds and music.
multipleIntelligences  science  from delicious
may 2012 by mizkiz
Language Meets Music
the teaching channel 4th and 5th graders
spin off a Duke Ellington book to create similes
integration  multipleIntelligences  literacy  ESL  from delicious
may 2012 by mizkiz
Making Music Together Increases Kids’ Empathy
2012 research New research from the U.K. suggests certain types of group music-making can help kids develop empathy

In a year-long program focused on group music-making, 8- to 11-year old children became markedly more compassionate, according to a just-published study from the University of Cambridge. The finding suggests kids who make music together aren’t just having fun: they’re absorbing a key component of emotional intelligence.
multipleIntelligences  advocacy  affect  from delicious
april 2012 by mizkiz
Visibli: Giving your links more value
A REAL GEM! Big Thinkers: Howard Gardner on #MultipleIntelligences | Edutopia #edchat #elemchat
MultipleIntelligences  elemchat  edchat 
october 2011 by sharnon007

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