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PSY FPX 7411 Assessment 3 Current Debate in Learning Theory


Capella University

PSY FPX 7411 Learning Theories in Psychology

Prof. Name


Debunking the Learning Styles Theory Myth

Overview of the Learning Styles Myth

In his work, Newton (2015) examines the widely held belief in the learning style theory, which has deeply ingrained itself in educational practices despite being debunked as a “neuromyth.” This theory posits that learners can be categorized into specific styles, such as visual, auditory, or kinesthetic, and that teaching methods tailored to these styles would improve learning outcomes (Newton, 2017). However, substantial evidence refutes this idea, revealing it as a myth perpetuated by a lack of critical awareness rather than supported by empirical data.

The Persistence of a Debunked Theory

Despite numerous studies disproving the learning style theory, it continues to be widely accepted among educators and learners alike (Newton, 2015). This persistence can be attributed to decades of indoctrination and a lack of critical evaluation. Although some educators report anecdotal successes with its application, empirical evidence consistently contradicts its efficacy. Alarmingly, even recent academic papers still advocate for its use, reflecting a troubling disregard for scientific findings (Newton, 2015).

Understanding the Learning Style Theory

The learning style theory claims that individuals have distinct preferences for learning modalities, such as visual, auditory, or kinesthetic, and that teaching should align with these preferences (Newton, 2017). However, this simplistic categorization ignores the complexity of human learning, which often involves a blend of multiple styles. While some individuals may prefer certain modalities, strict adherence to these categories undermines the richness of the learning experience.

Origins and Spread of the Theory

The learning style theory originated in the 1980s, fueled by misconceptions about behavior and cognition (American Psychological Association, 2019). Its rapid spread can be attributed to a cultural preference for individualized educational approaches, often implemented without rigorous scrutiny of their effectiveness. Despite growing evidence against its validity, a significant number of educators continue to endorse the theory, perpetuating a cycle of misinformation (Digest, 2021).

The Potential and Pitfalls of the Theory

Advocates of the learning style theory argue for its flexibility and adaptability, suggesting it might be useful in certain contexts (Nancekivell et al., 2020). However, this perspective overlooks the lack of empirical support and the potential harm it may cause. Although proponents believe its widespread acceptance may not have immediate negative consequences, it promotes a flawed understanding of learning and teaching strategies (Digest, 2021).

Unraveling the Myth

A critical analysis reveals fundamental flaws in the learning style theory. Kirschner (2017) contends that the theory confuses learning preferences with fixed learning styles, leading to misguided educational practices. Moreover, studies claiming to support the theory often fail to meet scientific standards, casting doubt on their validity (Kirschner, 2017). The theory’s ambiguous constructs further complicate its assessment, fostering misconceptions among educators and learners (Digest, 2021).

Implications for Education and Beyond

The persistence of the learning style theory has significant implications, particularly in fields that rely on evidence-based practices like psychology (APA, 2019). Embracing a more nuanced understanding of learning—one that recognizes the diversity of cognitive processes—is crucial for effective education and professional practice (Newton, 2017). By dispelling the learning styles myth, educators can adopt more inclusive and evidence-based approaches to teaching and learning.

PSY FPX 7411 Assessment 3 Current Debate in Learning Theory


Despite its widespread acceptance, the learning style theory remains a myth unsupported by empirical evidence. Educators and learners must critically evaluate its validity and adopt a more nuanced understanding of learning processes. Debunking this myth enables educators to implement more effective and inclusive educational practices, grounded in empirical evidence and tailored to individual needs.


American Psychological Association. (2019). Belief in learning styles myth may be detrimental [Press release]. Retrieved from

Digest. (2021). The “Learning styles” myth is still prevalent among educators — and it shows no sign of going away. Retrieved from

Kirschner, P. A. (2017). Stop propagating the learning styles myth. Computers & Education, 106, 166–171.

Nancekivell, S. E., Shah, P., & Gelman, S. A. (2020). Maybe they’re born with it, or maybe it’s experience: Toward a deeper understanding of the learning style myth. Journal of Educational Psychology, 112(2), 221–235.

Newton, P. M. (2015). The Learning Styles Myth is Thriving in Higher Education. Frontiers in Psychology, 6.

PSY FPX 7411 Assessment 3 Current Debate in Learning Theory

Newton, P. M. (2017). Evidence-Based Higher Education – Is the Learning Styles “Myth” Important? Frontiers in Psychology, 8, 444–444.

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