Mahurin Honors College Capstone Experience/Thesis Projects



Additional Departmental Affiliation

School of Teacher Education

Document Type



At post-secondary institutions, student attrition and graduation rates are of great concern. One contributing factor could be a student’s belief in inaccurate information about the brain and human cognition (a neuromyth). Previous studies have shown among teachers, college graduates, and pre-service teachers the prevalence of neuromyth beliefs – the most rampant being the visual, auditory, and kinesthetic (VAK) learning styles myth. Though studies have hinted at some possible negative effects of holding the VAK learning styles myth, none have systematically investigated the matter. Therefore, the purpose of this mixed-methods experimental study was to expose college students’ misconceptions about learning, investigate outcomes to learning for those that believe the VAK myth, and to test the efficacy of a growth mindset intervention designed to correct the VAK misconception. The sample of college students (N = 231) were recruited from an introductory psychology course and randomly assigned to one of two conditions. In both conditions, groups experienced a 20-minute online learning module; however, the treatment group specifically learned about research on neuroplasticity, why learning styles are a myth, and cognitive strategies to improve learning. All participants completed pre- and posttests to assess their beliefs about the brain and neuromyths. The belief in VAK learning styles was highly prevalent in this sample, but intervention had a strong effect on changing college students’ incorrect beliefs. When prompted to describe outcomes of the VAK belief, students most often report limited strategies for learning, poor performance, lack of engagement, and perceived failure.

Advisor(s) or Committee Chair

Dr. Lisa Duffin, Mrs. Melissa Rudloff, Dr. O.E. Mansour


Education | Psychiatry and Psychology