An examination of the relationship among student learning style, instructor learning style, and student performance in a Georgia technical college
Lawson, Stanley Craig
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Since the 1970s there has been an increased focus on the concept of learning style. While there is a substantial body of literature which examines the learning styles of students in higher education, much of this research has been conducted at four-year colleges and universities and in the context of general education. This study was conducted at a technical college in Georgia. Georgia’s technical colleges offer programs of study that are occupationally oriented and directed toward addressing workforce needs. The study sought to determine whether learning style was associated with student performance. Data regarding instructor learning style was collected in order to determine if student/instructor congruency in learning style was associated with student performance. For purposes of this study, performance was determined by using students’ final course grades. Grades were converted from a letter grade format to a numerical value. The theoretical framework used to define learning style was Kolb’s experiential learning theory. Kolb’s learning style inventory was the instrumentation used to determine learning style. Of the 682 students enrolled during summer quarter 2010 who had final grade data to be analyzed, 513 students completed a useable learning style inventory (75% response rate). Over one-half were found to be divergers, while only seven percent were found to be convergers. Instructors’ styles were much more evenly distributed across the four learning styles. A one-way ANOVA indicated that learning style was associated with student performance. Specifically, the analysis revealed that higher grades were associated with the converger learning style as opposed to other learning styles. Effect size, which measures the strength of these associations, was determined to be small. Final grades were divided into two groups. One group consisted of grades earned under conditions of congruence in learning style—that is, the student and the instructor had the same learning style. The other group consisted of grades earned under conditions of incongruence—that is, the student learning style was different from that of the instructor. T-tests were performed to examine mean scores and variation. The results indicated that there was no statistically significant difference between the two groups.
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