My take on learning style is that it is a name for an empirical concept (with respect to learners) that we commonly call “preference.”
Our experience informs us that there are several components to what we call “individual differences” and that understanding these differences can help us support individual learners.
I think of these components as follows:
- ability (prior knowledge)
- capability (intelligence)
- motivation (extrinsic and intrinsic)
- preference (learning styles)
That support should be considered more vital, the more you conceive of learning and knowledge as something at least in part that is highly individualized or “idiosyncratic.”
With this conceptual framework, I conducted an experiment to see how learning style might relate to learner satisfaction in the context of contrasting course delivery modes (traditional classroom instruction vs. e-blended).
My literature review and the (significant) results of my study have influenced my thinking about the use of visual materials in courses (and the highly visual nature of online courses), especially where learners self-identify as having a more visual preference and/or I measure learning preferences using learning style “inventory” such as the free Web-based questionnaire and automated data analysis described in my presentation).
Here is a Web-based PowerPoint of my conference presentation (optimized for Internet Explorer browser):
And here is a link to the published research paper in an online (open access) journal (requires Adobe Reader for file in .pdf format):
Your comments are welcome in reply,