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Center for Teaching Excellence

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Learning Styles: Multiple Models, Multiple Teaching Methods


Low student satisfaction or poor performance in a course or activity may be misinterpreted as lack of knowledge or ability, when it is actually difficulty with a particular style of learning. This presentation addresses five leading learning-style frameworks:

  • Gardner's Multiple Intelligences
  • Felder-Silverman Index of Learning Styles (ILS)
  • Fleming and Mills' VARK Model
  • Kolb's Learning Styles Model and Experiential Learning Theory (ELT)
  • Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI)

In this session, participants learn how these models vary in their utility, validity and reliability, making some more fruitful than others, and what common ground they share, suggesting a partial integration of the frameworks. The styles that emerge from the synthesis have practical implications for teaching and learning, and participant receive a list of activities, learning aids, study techniques and assignments that facilitate learning for each style.

About the Facilitator

Linda B. Nilson, Ph.D., is founding Director of Clemson University's Office of Teaching Effectiveness and Innovation (OTEI) and author of Teaching at its Best: A Research-Based Resource for College Instructors, now in its second edition (Anker, 2003) and The Graphic Syllabus and the Outcomes Map: Communicating Your Course(Jossey-Bass, 2007). She also co-edited Enhancing Learning with Laptops in the Classroom (Jossey-Bass, 2005) and Volumes 25 and 26 of To Improve the Academy: Resources for Faculty, Instructional, and Organizational Development as associate editor (Anker, 2007, 2008). She is now editor of Volumes 27 and 28 (Jossey-Bass, 2009, 2010) while she prepares the third edition of Teaching at its Best (Jossey-Bass).

Dr. Nilson has published many articles and book chapters and presents faculty workshops at institution and conferences in the U.S. and internationally. Among her faculty development activities is directing the annual week-long Institute for Teaching and Learning in Higher Education, sponsored by the South Carolina Teaching Excellence Network (SCTEN). Before coming to Clemson, Dr. Nilson directed teaching centers at Vanderbilt University and the University of California, Riverside and was a faculty member in the sociology department at UCLA. She received the B.A. in sociology from the University of California, Berkeley and her M.S. and Ph.D. in sociology from the University of Wisconsin, Madison, where she was a National Science Foundation Fellow.


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