The learning styles neuromyth: when the same term means different things to different teachers


Although learning styles (LS) have been recognised as a neuromyth, they remain a virtual truism within education. A point of concern is that the term LS has been used within theories that describe them using completely different notions and categorisations. This is the first empirical study to investigate education professionals' conceptualisation, as well as means of identifying and implementing LS in their classroom. A sample of 123 education professionals were administered a questionnaire consisting both closed- and open-ended questions. Responses were analysed using thematic analysis. LS were found to be mainly conceptualised within the Visual-Auditory-(Reading)-Kinaesthetic (VAK/VARK) framework, as well as Gardner’s multiple intelligences. Moreover, a lot of education professionals confused theories of learning (e.g., behavioural or cognitive theories) with LS. In terms of identifying LS, educators reported using a variety of methods, spanning from observation and everyday contact to the use of tests. The ways LS were implemented in the classroom were numerous, comprising various teaching aids, participatory techniques and motor activities. Overall, we argue that the extended use of the term LS gives the illusion of a consensus amongst educators, when a closer examination reveals that the term LS is conceptualised, identified and implemented idiosyncratically by different individuals. This study aims to be of use to pre-service and in-service teacher educators in their effort to debunk the neuromyth of LS and replace it with evidence-based practices.

European Journal of Psychology of Education