These are the results of a completely unscientific survey I did of people who happened to see these tweets, with a sample size of 75 < n < 147.
My hypothesis, which remains unproven by these polls, is that many of the people who say “it’s important to address student learning styles” actually mean “it’s important to use a variety of modalities”.
This is important because, after a number of reviews of the research (lit review, letter in The Guardian, research summary), there seems to be convincing evidence that adapting instruction so that teaching meshes with each individual student’s learning style does not improve learning. That’s important for teachers to know. It’s also a pretty narrow claim. If I am working to provide visual learners visual instruction, auditory learners auditory instruction, and so on (or other variations on learning styles) then the research has something to offer me. If, when teachers talk about learning styles, they really mean that they try to use a variety of representations and activities in class, that is a separate pedagogical strategy, and one that many more educators agree with. My experience is that it’s actually fairly rare for a teacher to attempt to determine student learning styles and tailor instruction to those styles. It’s not a unicorn; it does exist, and the research suggests it’s an ineffective use of teacher time. But pretty rare.
I think this is worth noting because discussions between educators on learning styles can quickly become angry and bitter. I think some of those conversations would benefit from a pause and clarification of what is actually being discussed. I think those who believe the research that learning styles are a myth could be much more careful to ensure that they are being critical of learning styles theory, and not other, related ideas that a teacher is using learning styles as shorthand for. And I think all teachers could be much more precise in their language and what they actually mean when they talk about learning styles.