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Learning Styles and Student Achievement of Industrial Technology Students: Is There a Relationship?. Patricia Ryaby Backer San Jose State University. Kolb Learning Style Inventory. Kolb & Kolb (2001) concrete experience or the ability of a learner to become involved in a new experience

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learning styles and student achievement of industrial technology students is there a relationship

Learning Styles and StudentAchievement of Industrial TechnologyStudents: Is There a Relationship?

Patricia Ryaby Backer

San Jose State University

kolb learning style inventory
Kolb Learning Style Inventory

Kolb & Kolb (2001)

  • concrete experience or the ability of a learner to become involved in a new experience
  • reflective observation or the ability to reflect upon and observe experiences from many perspectives
  • abstract conceptualization or the ability to create theories to explain observations
  • active experimentation or the ability to use theories to solve problems and make decisions
four learning styles
Four Learning Styles
  • Accommodators focus on the question, “what would happen if I did this?” These learners learn well from hands-on experiences and rely more on feelings rather than logical analysis. Kolb (1999) notes that this learning style is evidenced in “action-oriented careers such as marketing and sales.”
  • Assimilators like to answer the question, "what is there to know?" These learners can understand a wide range of information and put this information into a logical and organized form. This style is seen often in those who are in information and science-related careers (Kolb, 1999). Previous research at SJSU on Engineering students (Mourtos, 1996) found that 40% were assimilators.
  • Convergers seek to find practical use for ideas and theories and prefer to work with technical tasks and problems rather than with interpersonal tasks. People in technology careers tend to have this learning style (Kolb, 1999).
  • Divergers are focused on the "why" of a situation. They tend to be very cognizant of their environment and like to gather information from a wide range of sources. Divergers are prevalent in the arts, entertainment, and service fields.
methodology
Methodology

This research was done in support of a curriculum revision that was undertaken by the Department of Aviation and Technology last year. In addition to redesigning the content of the classes for Industrial Technology majors, the faculty of this department was interested in determining whether there were any dominant learning styles in the student body.

research questions
Research Questions

There were two research questions in this study: (1) Is there a dominant learning style among Industrial Technology students at San Jose State University? and (2) What is the relationship between student achievement and learning style?

population
Population

This research was focused on surveying students who had taken most, if not all, of their BSIT classes.

The sample was limited to senior-level students in the BSIT. All seniors in the Industrial Technology program at San Jose State University were surveyed in Spring 2002 using the Kolb Learning Style Inventory.

demographics
Demographics
  • The Department of Aviation and Technology at San Jose State University (SJSU) offers two bachelor’s degrees: the BS in Industrial Technology (BSIT) and the BS in Aviation.
  • There are two different concentrations in the BSIT: Electronics and Computer Technology and Manufacturing Systems.
  • The students are not distributed equally between the two concentrations; 25% of BSIT majors are Manufacturing Systems students and 75% are Electronics and Computer Technology (BSIT-ECT) majors.
demographics cont
Demographics (cont)

SJSU also has a diverse student population with 62% of all undergraduates identified as having non-White ethnicity. A higher percentage (69%) of the undergraduate students in the BSIT are non-White and there are significantly more students from Asian backgrounds in the BSIT than in the university as a whole.

sample
Sample
  • In Spring 2002, there were 152 seniors in the BSIT. A total of 52 students returned the survey; this represents a 34% return rate.
gender and learning style
Gender and Learning Style
  • Industrial Technology students are reflective of the general public; there were approximately the same number of students with each learning style.
  • BSIT majors do not have the learning style that would be expected from previous research at SJSU on Engineering students (Mourtos, 1996) that found that 40% were assimilators.
results gpa in bsit and sjsu courses
Results GPA in BSIT and SJSU courses
  • Each student’s academic record was reviewed to determine their overall SJSU GPA as well as their GPA in BSIT courses.
  • Overall, students receive higher grades in their BSIT courses than they receive in SJSU overall although there is a positive correlation (r = 0.57) between the two GPAs.
  • Accommodaters (These learners learn well from hands-on experiences and rely more on feelings rather than logical analysis) earned the lowest grades and Divergers (They tend to be very cognizant of their environment and like to gather information from a wide range of sources) earned the highest grades of all the students for both BSIT and university courses.
results gpa vs learning styles
Results GPA vs Learning Styles
  • There were differences between the BSIT and overall SJSU GPAs for the different learning styles. The average GPA for two groups, Accommodators and Convergers, is equivalent for both SJSU and BSIT courses, 2.38 and 2.7 respectively.
  • Divergers earn significantly higher grades in their BSIT courses than the other groups (Pearson correlation = -.61, p < .01)
  • Both Assimilators and Divergers received significantly higher grades in their BSIT courses than in SJSU overall.
    • Assimilators had an average GPA of 2.9 in their BSIT courses as compared to an overall SJSU GPA of 2.73 (t = - 2.0; P < .05).
    • Divergers had an average GPA of 3.15 in their BSIT courses as compared to an overall SJSU GPA of 2.99 (t = - 3.43; P < .01).
implications for technology education
Implications for Technology Education
  • Since the data suggests that there is a relationship between learning style and achievement, this research brings up further questions. Since Divergers are most successful in their BSIT classes, are these classes primarily designed to appeal to this type of learner?
  • Students with the accommodating learning style had the lowest average GPA both for BSIT courses and for SJSU overall.
how could one integrate research on learning styles into the classroom
How could one integrate research on learning styles into the classroom?
  • Accommodators gain knowledge through concrete experience and they process information through experimentation.
  • They are active learners who learn best by doing projects, homework and small group discussions and activities (Rasmussen & Davidson-Shivers, 1998).
  • An instructor can be effective with an accommodator by acting as an evaluator and a motivator and allowing the students to discover things for themselves.
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Convergers, in contrast, “perceive information through abstract conceptualization and process it actively” (Larkin-Hein & Budny, 2001, p. 280).
  • These students like to take things apart to see how it works and to learn by doing. Here, the instructor should take the role of a coach and provide guidance and feedback.
  • In contrast to the accommodator, convergers work best with problems and/or laboratories when there is a single correct answer.