Learning styles & the importance of critical self-reflection | Tesia Marshik | TEDxUWLaCrosse

The belief in learning styles is so widespread, it is considered to be common sense. Few people ever challenge this belief, which has been deeply ingrained in our educational system. Teachers are routinely told that in order to be effective educators, they must identify & cater to individual students’ learning styles; it is estimated that around 90% of students believe that they have a specific learning style but research suggests that learning styles don’t actually exist! This presentation focuses on debunking this myth via research findings, explaining how/why the belief in learning styles is problematic, and examining the reasons why the belief persists despite the lack of evidence.

Dr. Tesia Marshik is an Assistant Professor of Psychology at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse. Her research interests in educational psychology include student motivation, self-regulation, and teacher-student relationships.

This talk was given at a TEDx event using the TED conference format but independently organized by a local community. Learn more at http://ted.com/tedx



  1. Very interesting argument and video.  Tesia Marshik frames learning style as in "a specific mode where a student can ONLY learn from."  Is that really true?  People are different when it comes to learning.  Recognizing different learning styles is not the same as saying people can ONLY learn in their "preferred" way.  Having multi-touch points involving different senses of course help and enhance learning–no one said otherwise.

  2. It's not about matching learning style with teaching style, but it's about 'integrating' preferred and non-preferred (dominant and non-dominant) styles in a way that slightly challenges the learners.

    That's all.

  3. 1. Learning depends on the meanings we give the material 2. Learning style depends on the contents 3. Many subjects can be learned in a mix of learning styles

  4. The USA vaccine court awards millions to family’s of children whom suffered adverse effects (swelling of the brain) form vaccines. This swelling causes “autism” symptoms, but officially they don’t award for autism but for brain damage. However the children are diagnosed with autism. So the govt don’t officially admit vaccines cause autism.

  5. I absolutely disagree with her!!!! Everyone has learning styles. After watching her video until the end, I, therefore, conclude that all she said will go back that learning styles exist.!!!!

  6. Well, this being a video about critical self-reflection she cannot argue that she is right and everyone who believe in learning styles are wrong. Because this is just a belief and not a fact as well as her arguments. Also she accepts the fact that people have different abilities and this can influence the learning styles preferences that people have, and if she stated that the study shows that there is no evidence of any difference by learning in different styles, then believing that one has a learning style doesn't have any consequence for that who believes it.

  7. Perhaps Ms Marshnik would benefit from a quick look at the "hierarchy of disagreement" so she learns how to present an argument without insulting the listener.

  8. I don't think there are learning styles but I believe there are learning preferences..
    just like everyone has the capacity to learn to drive a car or a bike or a bicycle.. but every has their choice to move around the city..
    similarly its like every one is capable of filling their stomachs by eating anything by any method of eating(maybe by hands or forks or chopsticks). but everyone has a preference to eat only certain things in a certain way.
    same is true with subjects.. I believe everyone can learn and progress in any subject…. but because of whatever reasons we have more willingness and tendencies to pursue one subject and prefer to do that than others.
    same way we may be are capable to learn through all the ways.. but with time we develop preferences..
    some people like to read stories and remember the stories, some people prefer to watch a movie, some might prefer a graphic novel.

    sometimes our subjects guides us to the preferable mode of learning and sometime our preference of learning mode decides our subjects.

  9. OMG! I cannot believe that this presentation is delivered in 2015!!! I studied education back in early 2000 at an Australian university and during the second year, we already learnt about these viewpoints. So, why on Earth is this shown in 2015??! This is dated information.

    Big problem here is she never refers to memory recall – because that is a crucial area as to see if a person has learnt something.

    People can learn things – but many ways to ensure learning takes place is through a means of recalling it. Tests, assessments, demonstration, or simply re-enacting an action learned are ways of recalling to see where people remember.

    Learning can be further tested through critical thinking – e.g. once you can recall something, do you agree with this or not and why? Or, what would you do in a situation and why?

    Also, another area of memory recall that hasn't been touched upon is – WHICH EFFECTIVE WAYS can a person demonstrate learning?

    In some assessments, some people are not only required to write down what they know, as a form of illustrating what they have learnt, but through a viva voce assessment – this is where people take your written work and ask questions why or how you came up with that information – seeking reasons for that.

    Through this kind of assessment, we may find that some people have strengths in being able to recall information via spoken word, and others have better abilities through the written word.

    A person with dyslexia, for example, may feel happier to be assessed through a spoken manner, rather than writing, because, if the test requires correct spelling as part of the criteria to pass, the person with dyslexia will feel stressed, which, in turn, can inhibit their ability to recall information, due to the worry of taking time to ensure words are written correctly – OR – they will just continually write down things to the best of their ability and will be graded down, unfairly, due to their disadvantage of writing some words incorrectly.

    This illustrated bias can hinder and falsely display the real recalling potential of someone's learning. Imagine, for instance, someone who has ADHD and Dyslexia.

    The environment, also plays a crucial component for a person's learning, coupled with motivation – is it positive or negative motivation, for instance –

    All in all, the presentation is, quite old information – and I felt like, this was more of a review of some education viewpoints about learning, that should have been updated.

    Technology is a huge influencer for learning, it would have been interesting, for example, to see how that impacts on learning or how teachers integrate that with learning – and memory recall.

    It would have been good for Tesia to indicate the meaning of learning – is it the process of taking in information, or taking in information and recalling it, or recalling information, alone?

    To clarify that, would be beneficial – I'm uncertain here, because, the examples provided shift for the definition of learning.

    E.g. at one point, learning about "types of learner" people are, emphasises on how we take in information – e.g. is a person an auditory or visual learner" – so, there's no clear correlation of the results demonstrated for this – but when Tesia talks about Chase & Simon, learning adds the area of memory recall – e.g. Chess players – so, this switching of what "learning" is, is inconsistent – and as a result, there are holes in her argument.

    I would have liked it if she spoke it as either "the intake of information from learning processes" or "the result / aka the results of recalling from learning processes" for more accurate understanding.

    This is dated information – and I am only amused by her ability to inform, but didn't see any "eye-popping" new information that made me wonder, "wow!" I never knew that!

  10. I was always confused by the different types of learners because I could never really learn well using any one of the types of learning styles. I only do quite well when I practice things over and over again and I always need a lot of time to recall a lot of information.

  11. ~ "we learn best by meaning connection" is an impressive concept and I think the ideas may be 'spot on' here about learning styles. However, I thumbs down the talk overall. Why? Because from my perspective, rejecting the concept of "esp" n schoolyard probability logic, seems to me like a very limiting position to hold- and makes me wonder how do you relate to the concept of genius- in a reality that does not accept power beyond the 'ordinary senses'. It seems you do not accept it. In this sense you propose 'inside the box thinking'. If the art of disproving 'impossibility' has anything to educate us on- it is the good idea that we should at least think of reality as an open box, even if we are not willing to think outside it.

  12. I understand her point, but in both ways whether I just (prefer) visual learning or
    believed that my (style) of learning is visual, I still want my teacher to have some images or slides…
    NOT only listening to her speaking,
    and I still want to buy colorful book over a plain book that doesn't have any images !!

    it doesn't matter if its a learning style or preference because the result is the same for me…
    it makes me more comfortable and easier to learn.
    + I believe that teachers will have better results with their
    students if they put in mind the 5 senses in general.

  13. As a part of my class assignment i watched this video. I found it very interesting and partial holding some truth. The only part i disagreed with is letting science be the determining factor of whats real. Science can only process to a certain level, but lacks the ability to deep dipper and go higher. 🙏🏾

  14. She just undercut her own argument by saying that their people have preferences and not styles. Your preference is often got it by your style but she also make some other points that I have to assess further

  15. Learning styles is not a myth, it is a fact. Some learners learn better through seeing things, some through listening while others through experimenting. At the same time , the best way is to combilne the three styles while teaching.

    Regarding what she said about meaning, she really nailed it with the example of chessboard. It is true "experts" of the game can easily memorize what they are required to memorize because they are familiar with the game and its rules so they understand it, while starters cant cuz their brain spends time raising questions about what it is all and why each element is placed here not there etc. And while this happening the memory is inactive, therefore, the person can't remember a thing.

    Learning through meaning gurantess that the info would last in our memory forever or at least for a long time. I ve seen people learning by heart history lessons without understanding for the purpose of passing the exam and have high grades. Once exam is over, the info goes away.

    Learning through understanding the meaning is the best and the only way for learning.

  16. Whilst this woman may be a professor, she is patronising towards educational professionals, says the word right countless times and frankly her supporting research is outdated and her example about the belief in the yeti is simply ludicrous. This may pass for academic rigour in crazytown these days but I live in the UK and I'm not impressed.

  17. There's a lot of nitpicky comments about memorization vs. learning, but I think this is mostly the defensiveness she mentioned. I thought the talk was well done and gave very good examples AND anticipated the arguments of the audience. Plus, in the end it talked about real-world applications. Well done!

  18. DR… I don't want to write a PhD chapter on LeArning styles, but let me confirm that there are learning styles, never 2 people learn the same way, this issue we learn in the kindergarten and there are tons of research to explain it…

  19. She spends too much time explaining silly reasons why we believe in learning methods, and a lot less time actually giving us evidence on why we shouldn't believe it.
    Oh, and the "we once thought the earth was the centre of the universe" is a non argument. You can basically use it for everything.

  20. I found it pretty believable when I first heard about learning styles. Years went by, and never questioned it. As soon as I started hearing about the opposing viewpoint, I found that believable as well- more so when I started considering the number of people who stand to make a buck off of the idea. I'm no scientist, I never read any studies on it, but my belief is that while we all learn in different ways and while some people might be a little more or a little less able to understand something based on the manner in which it's presented, it's probably not so extreme as to justify all the labels.
    Good teaching addresses a subject in a variety of different ways anyway. Discard all the nonsense and just get down to it.

  21. If misogyny comes into this forum and ruins the potential of the conversation we could have about this controversial topic, so help me God I will lose it. Some things are just too important to miss.

  22. How are you going to use a blanket research system to disprove a belief that everyone has a specific learning style. What if someone uses a little of all 3 learning styles, you are now going to say none of that truly matters? This is just another effort by the powers that be to control the masses with one way of thinking, its toxic. Accommodate people who are comfortable learning the way they want. Smh numbers, stats, evidence. Most evidence based research is just as fragile as beliefs when pertaining to how people think and learn

  23. It's not that learning styles don't exist, but that tailoring teaching methods to specific learning styles is no more beneficial to learning than teaching information and ideas in a variety of ways. This explains experimental studies resulting in students learning the same amount of tested information, even though it was (or was not) presented to them in their preferred learning style.

  24. Who paid for it to spread that BS saying telepathy does not work end learning styles are not there. I give you thousans of exapmles for it. We process much more information visually than from hearing. That is a proven fact. She says it has been proven in many ways. How and who she does not say. Also the moon is influencing earthy environment proven in millions of instances.

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