Meta Analysis Summary: Learning Overview
Adults and traditional students often describe that they learn differently than others. For example, adults may suggest that they have specific learning styles, left brain right brain dominance, and specific multiple intelligences. However, data suggest that learning styles (Lilienfeld, Lynn, Ruscio, & Beyerstein, 2010b; Pashler, McDaniel, Rohrer, & Bjork, 2009; Willingham, 2009b), left brain right brain theory (Alferink & Farmer-Dougan, 2010; Dekker, Lee, Howard-Jones, & Jolles, 2012; Gazzaniga, 1985, 2002; Lilienfeld, et al., 2010a; Lindell & Kidd, 2011; Willingham, 2010), and multiple intelligences (Waterhouse, 2006) do not exist. Traditional students may suggest that they that they are good at multitasking, and therefore desire to use laptops in class. Some educational professionals even claim that because of the digital revolution, Generation Y learns differently than other generations (Prensky, 2001). However, research suggests that the current generation does not learn differently than other generations (Bennett, Maton, & Kervin, 2008; Devers, 2012), that students do poorly when multitasking (Dretzin, 2010; Ophir, Nass, & Wagner, 2009; Rubinstein, Meyer, & Evans, 2001; Tugend, 2008), and that using laptops during class hinders learning (Fried, 2008; Hembrooke & Gay, 2003; Sana, Weston, & Cepeda, 2013; Truman, 2005). Much has been written about how we learn (Blakemore & Frith, 2005; Bransford, Brown, & Cocking, 2000; Byrnes, 2007; Dunlosky, Rawson, Marsh, Nathan, & Willingham, 2013; Stigler & Hiebert, 2009; Willingham, 2009c), and when it comes to differences in learning, Willingham (2009a) summarized it well when he states, "there are different abilities, but really, we all learn the same way."
- Instructors and students should focus on learning similarities instead of differences, as the data suggest, that for the most part, "we all learn the same way."
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Last updated: 06/02/2015