Australian Journal of Education

Article Title

The enduring appeal of ‘learning styles’


Individualism is the dominant value system in Western cultures and, as such, it affects the conduct of every aspect of human endeavour, including education. One of the most enduring effects on education has been the search for individual differences that can explain and predict variation in student achievement, with the hope that pedagogical methods can be designed that will capitalise on these. ‘Learning styles’ remain a popular choice for filling this role and the number of models of learning styles on offer continues to proliferate. Research conducted over the last 40 years has failed to show that individual attributes can be used to guide effective teaching practice. That ‘learning styles’ theory appeals to the underlying culture’s model of the person ensures the theory’s continued survival, despite the evidence against its utility. Rather than being a harmless fad, learning styles theory perpetuates the very stereotyping and harmful teaching practices it is said to combat.