Do Learners Really Know Best? Urban Legends in Education

July 1st, 2013 | RESEARCH

This article takes a critical look at three pervasive urban legends in education about the nature of learners, learning, and teaching and looks at what educational and psychological research has to say about them. The three legends can be seen as variations on one central theme, namely, that it is the learner who knows best and that she or he should be the controlling force in her or his learning. The first legend is one of learners as digital natives who form a generation of students knowing by nature how to learn from new media, and for whom “old” media and methods used in teaching/learning no longer work. The second legend is the widespread belief that learners have specific learning style sand that education should be individualized to the extent that the pedagogy of teaching/learning is matched to the preferred style of the learner. The final legend is that learners ought to be seen as self-educators who should be given maximum control over what they are learning and their learning trajectory. It concludes with a possible reason why these legends have taken hold, are so pervasive, and are so difficult to eradicate.


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Team Members

Paul Kirschner, Author, Open University of the Netherlands
Jeroen van Merrienboer, Author, Maastricht University


Identifier Type: doi
Identifier: 10.1080/00461520.2013.804395
Identifier Type: issn
Identifier: 0046-1520

Publication: Educational Psychologist
Volume: 48
Number: 3
Page(s): 169

Related URLs

EBSCO Full Text


Audience: Educators | Teachers | Elementary School Children (6-10) | Middle School Children (11-13) | Museum | ISE Professionals | Youth | Teen (up to 17)
Discipline: Education and learning science
Resource Type: Peer-reviewed article | Research Products
Environment Type: Informal | Formal Connections | Media and Technology | Websites | Mobile Apps | Online Media