Edev_502 response wk7_4

I enjoyed your post tremendously. Not only is your actual writing a model of excellence, you succinctly and clearly expressed many of the points I had engaged with this past week.

Like many, you reject labelling and argue for more student agency. I had prepared this graphic for my own post. It places agency under the locus of control of either the system (i.e. the curriculum, grading, class size and so on), the teacher, or the student.

Figure 1: actors in appropriate pedagogic/ andragogic action selection

I place student agency here because of the reality that many students would rather choices be made for them (i.e. Beaty and colleagues [1997] collegiate or vocational learner, and Atherton’s [2013] strategic learner). by Pashler, McDaniel, Rohrer and Bjork (2009) argue that the popularity of studies into learning styles is partially due to people wanting to know their type (two other reasons are; teachers wanting to see students as individuals and the ability to displace the responsibility when education fails onto a mismatch between learner style and pedagogic method).

I’d like to play devil’s advocate. If we combine the notion that some learners may work better when they know their type with the Hawthorne Effect (or the observer effect; Bethelot, Le Goff, & Maugars, 2011), is there an argument for imposing style-based pedagogic actions knowing that many students will improve because of that? I teach in Japan, a country where belief in blood types is widespread (Evans, 2012; Nuwer, 2011) and that affects personal decision making significantly. Is it unethical to promote learning styles to students who believe in blood types in order to encourage better engagement with learning?


Atherton, J. S. (2013). Deep and Surface learning. Retrieved August 22, 2015, from http://www.learningandteaching.info/learning/deepsurf.htm

Beaty, L., Gibbs, G., & Morgan, A. (1997). Learning orientations and study contracts. In F. Marton, D. Hounsell, & N. Entwistle (Eds.), The experience of learning (pp. 72–86). Edinburgh: Scottish Academic Press.

Berthelot, J. M., Le Goff, B., & Maugars, Y. (2011). The Hawthorne effect: Stronger than the placebo effect? Joint Bone Spine, 78(4), 335–336. http://doi.org/10.1016/j.jbspin.2011.06.001

Evans, R. (2012). Japan and blood types: Does it determine personality? Retrieved August 22, 2015, from http://www.bbc.com/news/magazine-20170787

Nuwer, R. (2011). You are what you bleed: In Japan and other east Asian countries some believe blood type dictates personality. Retrieved August 22, 2015, from http://blogs.scientificamerican.com/guest-blog/you-are-what-you-bleed-in-japan-and-other-east-asian-countries-some-believe-blood-type-dictates-personality/

Pashler, H., McDaniel, M., Rohrer, D., & Bjork, R. (2009). Concepts and Evidence. Psychological Science in the Public Interest, 9(3).

About theCaledonian

Scot living in north Japan teaching at a national university.
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