Growing up I was always told by my teachers that I was a visual learner. I only learned best from drawing out metabolic pathways instead of listening to videos from Khan Academy. A part of me has always believed that the only way something will stick in my brain is if I write it out or draw it out—manifesting what I have been told even in my college studying habits. What if I told you that this “learning style phenomenon” might not be true? What if I told you that in fact there is no such thing as specific learning styles?
The learning style phenomenon is known by scientists as a neuromyth. According to Macdonald, a neuromyth is defined as “a misconception generated by a misunderstanding, a misreading or a misquoting of facts scientifically established (by brain research) to make a case for the use of brain research in education or other contexts.” In simpler terms, it’s a myth that we choose to believe about our brains because it scientifically makes sense. Neuromyths come about due to technical language barriers that makes understanding neuroscience papers difficult for non-experts. These myths then flourish in cultures where beliefs about the brain are not scrutinized on a regular basis. In fact, many people believe this myth because a startling 94% of research papers have positive views on learnings styles, which undermines education as a research field. Additionally, specific classrooms approaches are easier to teach for some educators and make the classroom more fun.
In fact, most research shows that a mix of all learning styles is what it is best for learning. So maybe instead of sticking to a certain style of learning, switch it up a bit. Instead of always just being visual, talk through the points with friends or move around while memorizing. I know I could benefit from switching up my studying, so maybe others can give something besides their learning style a try? College is all about exploration anyways and learning what works best for you—even if that means reworking your entire studying style. In fact, maybe you’ll catch me jogging while memorizing equations for physics! Jokes, I don’t jog—but you might find me talking through concepts with friends now.