The explosion of educational technologies in the past decade or so has led everyone to wonder whether the landscape of higher education teaching and learning will be razed and reconstructed in some new formation. But whatever changes might occur to the learning environments we construct for our students, the fundamental principles according to which human beings learn complex new skills and information will not likely undergo a massive transformation anytime soon. Fortunately, we seem to be in the midst of a flowering of new research and ideas from the learning sciences that can help ensure that whatever type of approach we take to the classroom—from traditional lecture to flipped classes—can help maximize student learning in our courses.
Research on learning styles now spans four decades and occurs across a wide spectrum of disciplines, including many quite removed from psychology, the disciplinary home of many of the central concepts and theories that ground notions of learning style.
Thanks to new technologies of brain imaging and major breakthroughs in cognitive research, neuroscientists now know more about the functioning of the human brain than ever. This new knowledge should help us revolutionize our teaching methods, but what about those of us who can’t tell a hippocampus from a hippopotamus? As an English professor whose gray matter has frequently proved more or less impervious to scientific discourse, I decided to tackle this challenge head-on, so to speak. Here are some of my findings, along with their implications for teaching and learning…