The Truth About Learning Styles

Dr. Rachelle Dené Poth
5 min readApr 19, 2024

Opinions expressed are those of the authors

“Learning styles” is a concept that perpetuates the idea that certain individuals learn better when information is presented in their preferred style of learning (e.g., visual, auditory, kinesthetic). Diagnosing and presenting information according to learning styles has been a prominent practice in K-12 through higher education learning environments for years. There is also a thriving industry devoted to producing learning styles materials, including learning style tests, guidebooks, and workshops, all designed to assist educators in understanding and effectively teaching to students based on their specific style.

Upon copious research, we have concluded that learning styles lack credible validity and should not continue in educational settings. There are serious implications from accepting learning styles as fact. First of all, schools are wasting valuable and limited time and resources dedicating their practice to this misconception. Teachers spend precious time and effort catering to children’s learning styles when they could otherwise be implementing strategies scientifically proven to help students learn. The use of learning styles also limits student’s ability to overcome obstacles and develop a growth mindset, a crucial aspect of resilience. Students who are taught and believe that they can only learn through one style may reject instruction that does not reflect their chosen mode.

Learning styles are commonly chosen based on the individual’s perceived favorable mode of receiving information. However, this self-report may not be accurate and neglects to address the issue that one learning style may not be applicable to the multitude of modes needed to teach the variety of subjects mandated by the curriculum. The fact stands that the modes of teaching are dictated by the subject being taught. For example, students who are being taught geography will benefit from visually seeing a map in order to understand the content. Self-proclaimed “auditory learners” will not better understand geography based on an auditory explanation of the content (Marshik, 2015).

One of the main issues with the concept of learning styles is that it does not encourage students to struggle with learning in different ways. In reality, students need to be able to adapt to learning in different ways. Students will face a diverse set of lessons in their schooling that use different modes of learning. At some point, students will come face to face with lessons that need them to focus on being kinesthetic, auditory, visual, or tactile learners, either individually or all at the same time. The joy of learning and education is that you can do it in so many ways, which begs the question of why are we subjecting students to only focus on one type? Instead of spending so much time on having students figure out which learning style suits them best and altering lessons to fit those results, teachers should aim to help students embrace all styles while keeping an open mind.

Theresa LeBlanc from Texas University did a study on this subject and concluded that “teaching students the cognitive processes and skills involved in learning-those strategies that help learners think, solve problems, and create meaning-can similarly empower students, not with a false sense that one can learn only one or two ways, but with an understanding that learning is multifaceted, reflecting different combinations of learning abilities that make us effective in different ways” (LeBlanc, 2018, p. 39).

Students will be much more effective learners if they can adapt to any style of teaching and learning. Teachers can promote this idea of learning style flexibility while also celebrating student differences. While learning styles don’t have sufficient evidence, it is true that students learn best in different ways. Teachers can help students notice these differences and embrace them as a way to celebrate the uniqueness of learning. This is a much better use of time and resources in school than promoting an idea that has no adequate evidence to back it up.

But why has this educational myth persisted for so long, and more importantly, how can we, as future teachers, examine popular teaching approaches through a critical lens? Researchers, including Riener and Willingham (2010), believe that the confirmation bias has given us reason to believe that one learning style works best for everyone. Reiner and Willingham stated that “when evaluating our own beliefs, we tend to seek out information that confirms our beliefs and ignore contrary information, even when we encounter it repeatedly. When we see someone who professes to be a visual learner excel at geography and an auditory learner excel at music, we do not seek out the information which would disprove our interpretation of these events” (p. 35). These scholars believe that, in order to critically examine popular teaching approaches which might not be based in evidence, or even worse, might be harming our students’ learning, we need to be able to challenge our existing beliefs rather than accept what others say at face value.

Author Bios:

Grace Coderre is majoring in Early Childhood Education and minoring in Psychology at the University of Massachusetts Amherst.

Renee Graczyk is a third year student at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, majoring in Early Childhood Education and minoring in Psychology.

Lucy Vician is majoring in Early Childhood Education and minoring in Psychology at the University of Massachusetts Amherst.

About Rachelle’s blog

Contact Rachelle to schedule sessions about Artificial Intelligence, Coding, AR/VR, and more for your school or your event! Submit the Contact Form. Sign up for my newsletter:

Follow Rachelle on Twitter(X) and Instagram at @Rdene915

**Interested in writing a guest blog for my site? Would love to share your ideas! Submit your post here. Looking for a new book to read? Find these available at

************ Also check out my THRIVEinEDU Podcast Here!

Join my show on THRIVEinEDU on Facebook. Join the group here


LeBlanc, T. (2018). Learning styles: Academic fact or urban myth? A recent review of the literature. Journal of College Academic Support Programs, 1(1), 34–40.

Marshik, T. (2015). Learning styles and the importance of critical self-reflection [Video]. TEDxTalk.

Reiner, C. & Willingham, D. (2010). The myth of learning styles. Change,

42(5), 32–35.

Originally published at on April 19, 2024.



Dr. Rachelle Dené Poth

I am a Spanish and STEAM Emerging Tech Teacher, Attorney, Author and Blogger, Learning Enthusiast and EdTech Consultant