Mustn't Miss: Jennifer Hofmann Says Stop Blaming Learning Styles

Thursday, March 27, 2014

In the blog post, “Learning Styles Don't Work—But Who Cares If They Help?” located on the InSync Training blog, Jennifer Hofmann addresses a favorite topic among L&D professionals: the age-old debate about the role of learning styles in the development of training. 

First she poses the question: If there is so little evidence as to the value of learning styles, why do so many designers cite their importance in design. And why do the collective “rest of us” seem to buy into it? 

The answer she supposes is because the concept is easy to understand and apply to program design—especially when paired against organizational constraints and operational limitations. And she adds that often these programs are “visually stimulating, kinesthetically engaging, and well-scripted interactions that draw on a variety of technologies and treatments of the subject matter.” So, who cares, right?


The problem with many failed programs, Hofmann reminds designers, isn’t an investment in learning styles. Instead, the true fault lies with the fact that they allow Level 1 evaluations to define quality of instruction. Without Level 3 evaluations, designers never know that the fun, engaging programs aren’t meeting the intended outcomes. 

Hofmann concludes: “When organizations start investing in defining and measuring against performance outcomes rather than learner reactions, we can stop worrying about the validity of learning styles, and turn instead to what organizations really want out of learning: employees who learn, retain, and use what they've learned from the training on the job.” 

Read the complete blog post, “Learning Styles Don't Work—But Who Cares If They Help?” to learn more.

About the Author

Ryann K. Ellis is an editor for the Association of Talent Development (ATD). She has been covering workplace learning and performance for ATD (formerly the American Society for Training & Development) since 1995. She currently manages ATD's Community of Practice blogs, as well as ATD's government-focused magazine, The Public Manager. Contact her at 

About the Author

Jennifer Hofmann, a pioneer in the field of virtual classrooms, is the president of InSync Training, a consulting firm that specializes in the design and delivery of virtual and blended learning. Featured in Forbes Most Powerful Women issue (June 16, 2014) as a New England Women Business Leader, she has led InSync Training to the Inc. 5000 as the 10th Fastest Growing Education Company in the U.S. (2013).

Hofmann is the author of The Synchronous Trainer’s Survival Guide: Facilitating Successful Live and Online Courses, Meetings and Events (Pfeiffer, 2003), Live and Online! Tips, Techniques, and Ready-To-Use Activities for the Virtual Classroom (Pfeiffer, 2004), and How To Design For The Live Online Classroom: Creating Great Interactive and Collaborative Training Using Web Conferencing (Brandon Hall, 2005). Additionally, she is a chapter contributor to The Handbook of Blended Learning (Pfeiffer, 2006), The AMA Handbook of E-Learning (The American Management Association, 2003), and The ASTD Handbook for Workplace Learning Professionals (ASTD, 2008, 2014). She has co-authored, with Nanette Miner, Tailored Learning: Designing the Blend That Fits (ASTD, 2009), a book focused on taking advantage of distributed technologies to create the best blended training solution possible.

Her most recent projects include a monthly Training Magazine Online series titled Virtually There and her newest book Body Language in the Bandwidth – How Facilitators, Producers, Designers, and Learners Connect, Collaborate & Succeed in the Virtual Classroom (2015).

Follow Jennifer Hofmann at her blog, Body Language In The Bandwidth at or on Twitter @InSyncJennifer.

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