Jay Mathews dug up a report that suggested there was little evidence “to justify incorporating learning-styles assessments into general educational practice.” I think most teachers would agree that it’s obvious that kids learn in different ways. But it’s fair to say that books like multiple intelligences was taken to crazy and ineffective extremes.
Perhaps more important is the subject of motivation. High standards require hard work. Finding and nurturing the ‘hook’ that will improve persistence of struggling students may be even more important than ‘learning style.’ Attempts have included:
- Themes: thousands of high schools feature a career or interested-based theme in an attempt to provide integration, application, and motivation.
- Money: AP Strategies in Dallas and REACH pay students for passing Advanced Placement exams.
- Awards, competitions, and a variety of classroom bargains.
- Graduation (when it hadn’t seemed likely) or AA degree with diploma (e.g., Early College High Schools)
On the subject of motivation, I think game developers are a more sophisticated than we are as educators. We’ll learn a lot about motivation in the next few years as adaptive learning content matures.
It’s also worth noting that another personalization strategy–teaching at a students instructional level–is becoming easier and also improves motivation.
Learning platforms of the future will consider learning level, interests and motivational profile, as well as most productive learning modality (i.e., a more sophisticated view of learning style).