Practical Approaches to Using Learning Styles in Higher Education

Practical Approaches to Using Learning Styles in Higher Education

Practical Approaches to Using Learning Styles in Higher Education

Practical Approaches to Using Learning Styles in Higher Education


Dunn and Griggs challenge the traditional instructional process of lecture/discussion in college teaching and describe the theory, practice, and research that support a wider variety of approaches to better accommodate the learning-style preferences of each student. Twenty-five practitioners from varied backgrounds and disciplines, representing 14 colleges and universities, outline alternative strategies they use with diverse students in their instructions of higher education. Some of these practitioners have been using learning-style approaches for decades. Others have conducted research to test the various tenets of the Dunn and Dunn Learning Style Model, and a few, only for the past five years, have begun providing instructional strategies that are congruent with their students' preferences.


The quality of teaching in many of our colleges and universities is perceived as deplorable and is under attack by many outstanding academicians. Former Harvard University president Derek Bok observed that teaching in academe is one of the few human activities that does not get demonstrably better from one generation to the next (1982). A research report, distributed by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, concluded:

In the current climate, students all too often are the losers . . . in glossy brochures they're assured that teaching is important, that a spirit of community pervades the campus, and that general education is the core of the undergraduate experience. But the reality is that on far too many campuses, teaching is not well rewarded and faculty who spend too much time counseling and advising students may diminish their prospects for tenure and promotion. (Boyer, 1990, xi-xii)

Anderson (1992) scathingly asserted that many university intellectuals have betrayed their profession by scorning their students and disdaining teaching. He maintained that the critical problem is not that many professors do not teach well, but that so few teach at all. This has resulted in a significant part of teaching responsibilities being assumed by teaching assistants. Anderson concluded that "students teaching students," often without training, supervision, or expertise, is so extensive and pervasive that it actually threatens the validity of a university education (1992, p. 61).

Some institutions of higher education have begun to address these criticisms by reordering priorities and linking teaching effectiveness to faculty personnel actions for tenure and promotion. Additionally, on selected college campuses, learning and teaching centers have been instituted to help . . .

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