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How people learn

Since leaving management for education some years ago, I have been repeatedly faced with the concept of learning styles. The whole idea seemed a little dubious to me, especially in how that could possibly be measured. I have occasionally been faced with taking tests at professional development that ask me to answer questions on a sheet that will then tell me my learning style. the whole thing always seemed a little bit like finding my horoscope. Recently in my class I even found myself on the wrong end of a discussion after the whole class watched a scientist explain why the whole idea is incorrect in it’s very foundations. Please note that I do believe that different styles of learning and types of teaching can “engage” different learners, but that is a different conversation than explaining “how” people learn. In any case, my cousin recently sent me this article about some very official numbers that have been floating around for many years, and I thought it seemed apropos:

Will at Work Learning: People remember 10%, 20%…Oh Really?


People do NOT remember 10% of what they read, 20% of what they see, 30% of what they hear, etc. That information, and similar pronouncements are fraudulent. Moreover, general statements on the effectiveness of learning methods are not credible—learning results depend on too many variables to enable such precision. Unfortunately, this bogus information has been floating around our field for decades, crafted by many different authors and presented in many different configurations, including bastardizations of Dale’s Cone. The rest of this article offers more detail.

Categories: learning styles
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