Research disputes accepted learning theory

Published in Journal of Educational Psychology’s Online First

For immediate release: Monday, July 28, 2014

BLOOMSBURG — Learning style does not matter.

That is the conclusion of Beth Rogowsky, assistant professor of education at Bloomsburg University, based on research conducted with two colleagues and recently published in the Journal of Educational Psychology

Beth Rogowsky

Rogowsky said 94 percent of educators believe students at all levels perform better when they receive information in their preferred learning style — auditory, visual or tactile — and offer classroom instruction following this theory. However, she added, there is no research to support this nearly universal practice.

Rogowsky and colleagues Barbara Calhoun, Vanderbilt University Brain Institute, and Paula Tallal, Center for Molecular and Behavioral Neuroscience, Rutgers University, and Center for Human Development, University of California, San Diego, investigated the effect of learning style preference on college-educated adults.

“Results demonstrated no statistically significant relationship between learning style preferences and learning based on instructional method,” she said. “We believe our findings may have considerable theoretical as well as practical implications to the field of education psychology.”

A public school teacher for 14 years, Rogowsky said the research findings apply to older adolescents, as well as adults. She hopes to receive a grant to pursue similar research with sixth- and seventh-graders.

“Preferences may help with motivation of reluctant learners,” Rogowsky said, “but students have to be able to read, process and comprehend information.”

Rogowsky earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees from BU, a second master’s degree from Marygrove College and a doctoral degree from Wilkes University. She completed postdoctoral training at the Center for Molecular and Behavioral Neuroscience at Rutgers University.

The Journal of Educational Psychology is published by the American Psychological Association.

Bloomsburg University is one of 14 universities in the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education. The university, celebrating 175 years of excellence in 2014, serves approximately 10,000 students, offering comprehensive programs of study in the colleges of Education, Business, Liberal Arts and Science and Technology.